Kids Go Gardening - happy habitats

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A habitat is a home for living creatures, a special place to find their favourite food and shelter to raise their families. In the garden there are different kinds of insect habitats. It might be a wood pile, a pond, or a beautiful flower garden you grew from seeds. A habitat is vital to survival!

Why do we need insects?

  1. Insects pollinate our food crops. Without these busy little creatures, most of our plants wouldn’t produce any fruit or seeds. Yikes! If we wanted any fruit at all, we would have to go around brushing the flowers together to pollinate them ourselves.
  2. Insects help nature turn dead plants and animals back into soil.
  3. Insects are important food for other insects and animals.


Go on a bug safari in your garden. Roll over logs and look closely at flowers. How many different insects can you find? Scientists have discovered and named more than a million insect species in the world but say there are millions more that haven’t even been discovered! You could be looking at one in your garden that doesn’t even have a name yet.

Sow a colourful habitat….

Choose a pack of nectar and pollen-rich flower seeds such as Yates Magical Creatures Wildflower Mix. These flowers will thrive if you scatter them straight into garden soil, but you can also grow them in pots.

  1. Clear a sunny patch of garden soil.
  2. Rake the soil lightly and scatter your seeds as evenly as possible. Like magical fairy dust!
  3. Water the soil (if it doesn’t rain) to keep it moist for 4 – 6 weeks and watch your plants grow. Flowers should start to appear after about 8 weeks.
  4. At the end of summer, once they have finished flowering, your plants make seeds for next year before they die down. These will fall to the ground to germinate before winter and flower next spring. You could gather some seeds and scatter them yourself.

Build it and they will come!

A bug hotel is an ideal insect habitat! It’s a home for tiny garden friends like ladybirds and other beetles, tiny hover flies and parasitic wasps. Create your own piece of garden architecture!

Some wasps sting, but most wasps are actually garden friends. Teeny tiny wasps called parasitoids, live alone and lay their eggs in the bodies of pest insects. The eggs hatch and baby wasps eat their way out of their hosts. Gross! New Zealand has thousands of parasitoids, including Lusius malfoyi, named after the Harry Potter character.

Friend or foe?
Most insects are our friends. Others are pests. What would happen if we killed off all of the annoying insects in our gardens?

Weird and wonderful
Aphid poo is sweet 'honey dew', which ants love to eat. Ants protect aphids from their predators and move them about to help them feed on plants. In other words, ants are aphid farmers!

TIP: Plant flowers with lots of different colours and shapes to attract loads of different insects.

Fun facts:

  1. A ladybird can eat 5,000 insects in its life time.
  2. Butterflies taste with their feet.

Look for these products, tips and advice at an Go Gardening garden centre near you.



Four common NZ butterflies. Clockwise from top left - Copper, Monarch, Blue, and Red Admiral.

Honey bee on apple blossom

Bumble bee on coneflower

Build a bug hotel