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Busy bees hope native plantings a lure for insects

Thursday 22 September 2022 8:39am

gardenmainEmma Brooks (left) and Jennie Henderson are working to increase insect biodiversity on the Dunedin campus.

A team of busy bees has been at work introducing new native plants to help improve insect biodiversity on the Dunedin campus.

Led by organisers Jennie Henderson and Emma Brooks, the volunteers spent a recent lunchtime planting and weeding the Kia Ora Peace Garden in Albany Street.

Jennie and Emma have a Green Your Scene-based vision to diversify campus insect life and are using the Peace Garden as a testing ground.

“With advice from Associate Professor Janice Lord in Botany, we asked the Otago Entomological Society to do a BioBlitz on the garden,” says Jennie, a Prospect Researcher in the Development and Alumni Relations Office.

“Three members of the society spent two hours observing and recording all the invertebrate species they found in the garden and produced a report outlining where there could be areas for improvement, and what kinds of plantings would help with this.”

Despite the OES members finding 72 invertebrate species, the garden received a biodiversity score of .065, suggesting poor biodiversity.

This score reflected the small size and limited age of the Garden. The area which offered the most biodiverse habitat was a memorial area to the rear of the Garden with a variety of plant densities, heights, and textures. To improve the insect outlook in the Garden, the OES recommended planting flax, coprosma, kōwhai and tussock.

Jennie and Emma, a Senior Publications Co-ordinator, have been working with OUSA Association Secretary and Corporate Support Manager Donna Jones, the default guardian of the garden, to ensure their work is approved by the property owner.

“Donna has been organising working bees and doing a great job of keeping everything tidy. We are excited to be working with her and the property owner to take the Garden in a slightly different direction.

“We look forward to inviting the OES back in summer next year to do another BioBlitz so we can assess the impact of our plantings – hopefully an increase in the insect life and variety,” says Jennie.