Author of the book "Housing and sheltering insects in the garden" by Delachaux and Niestlé, Vincent Albouy returns to us on the role of insects in the garden and gives us some advice.
Where does your interest in insects come from?
Since childhood, I have been interested in nature, and especially in what moves in nature. My parents had a garden, and I spent most of my free time observing the life there. The more particular passion for insects came around the age of 10, when I discovered Jean-Henri Fabre's "Entomological Memories". I wanted to see with my own eyes the observations he related with so much talent and communicative passion. And today, 45 years later, I continue to observe insects.
What role do insects play in the garden?
Insects play 4 main roles in the garden. - The vegetarians , which consume living plant tissue, are responsible by nature for controlling the proliferation of plants and preventing one from dominating the others. This is what bothers us when we want to artificially favor a crop plant and a "pest" begins to proliferate. But if it weren't for all these vegetarian insects, the "weeds" that most gardeners complain about would be even more invasive. - The recyclers , which consume dead organic matter (plant waste, corpses, droppings, etc.), help maintain the natural fertility of the soil. Plants cannot absorb the complex organic molecules that make up living tissue through their roots. These must be degraded to transform into assimilable mineral salts, and the recycling insects participate in this degradation. - The carnivorous , which mainly eat other invertebrates, prevent one species from dominating the others. As the enemies of our enemies are our friends, they contain many auxiliaries of cultures attacking pests. Aphids have such a reproductive ability that they could cover the plants in a matter of weeks. This does not happen because many predators and parasites, such as ladybugs, hover flies or wasps, attack them. - All these insects, vegetarians, recyclers and carnivores, represent an important food resource for garden vertebrates. Without them, no toads, orvets, chickadees, sparrows, hedgehogs or bats.
What insects are found mainly in the garden?
All insects can be found in a garden, because it is often a reflection of the environments that surround it. A large rural or suburban garden will of course be richer than a small garden in the city center, but the latter will be able to accommodate a diverse fauna, whether permanent or simply passing through. So butterflies and caterpillars, wasps, bees, ants, flies, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, earwigs, bedbugs, dragonflies can be observed in the gardens.
Can everyone welcome insects?
Anyone can welcome insects into their garden, no matter how small. It is even possible to arrange an insect shelter in a balcony planter! Of course, the larger the garden, rich in various plants and especially wild, close to natural environments still preserved, the more it will welcome various insects.
What are your tips for getting started?
To get started, the best thing to do is to work less. Forget, at least on part of the garden, mower, tiller, hedge trimmer or mulcher. Let the plants express themselves, and spend the time saved observing the life that will develop gradually. Bring a magnifying glass to see the smallest species such as aphids, or better a camera with macro function that will allow you to keep track of your observations. You will then discover an amazing world, and if you are passionate about it, you can take the next step, planting and landscaping to encourage insects. Thanks : - Vincent Albouy, author of the book "House and shelter insects in the garden", Delachaux and Niestlé editions. - Yannick Lemesle (//yannicklemesle.fr/sculptures-entomologesabris-dinsectes/).