National Insect Week runs from 18th – 24th June, run by the Royal Entomological Society the week encourages people of all ages to learn about insects, their habitats and behaviours.
Mount Stuart is home to many Creepy Crawlies from bugs in the garden, to pests in the Collection and many more inside the house if you know where to look! We’ve got some amazing activities for you to enjoy and discover more about bugs throughout the week but we’ll also be exploring our gardens and collections for insects of all shapes and sizes!
In the garden we use predators to control pests especially in the Glass Pavilion. The warm conditions mean that pests can breed rapidly and need to be controlled.
Mealybugs feed on sap and can weaken plants, their excretions, known as ‘honeydew’, can encourage the growth of sooty moulds. To protect plants from this pest we use Cryptolaemus or Mealybug ladybird, which is a beetle native to Queensland and New South Wales in Australia. Their larvae feast on mealybug and look very similar to their prey, a tactic known as aggressive mimicry. One of their common names is Mealybug Destroyer!
We also have to occasionally deal with whitefly which causes similar problems to mealybugs. To control these little insects we use a predatory wasp called Encarsia Formosa which has been used as a form of pest control since the 1920s.
It’s not all pests and predators in our gardens, we also keep our own bee hives which provide us with honey and help to pollinate our fruit trees ensuring successful crop production. And of course we always encourage butterflies, bees and bugs – anything that doesn’t eat our plants!