A monkey beetle (Scelophysa trimeni) burrowing in the disc of a daisy flower (Arctotis decurrens) while feeding photo: Julie Anne Workman, Wikipedia
The Insect Highway Project is about connecting patches of insect-appropriate plants to one another, so that insects can have a whole network of plant populations to rely on and use. This helps the insect populations to become more resilient. If one patch is affected by disease, mowing, or other threats, then they have other patches to move to. If they were isolated and rely on a single patch, then they are much more vulnerable.
Secondly, the plants themselves benefit from this because they get pollinated by a wider range of plant populations, which prevents inbreeding with only a small number of neighbours, which would make them more vulnerable in the long term.
Protecting insect species through indigenous gardens is important for the following reasons:
This project is currently under development. We have been setting up a first few gardens in which we have taken insect plant species into account when deciding on what to plant. Furthermore, we are collaborating with PhD candidate Peta Brom to use her insect monitoring protocol to get a better idea of the impact of our gardens on monkey beetles.
After we have tested which plants work well for our greening efforts and also benefit insect, and once we have gotten a better understanding of insect monitoring, we will seek funding to take this project to the next level. Our 3 year goal is to densify our existing garden network so that insect-friendly stepping stone gardens are added between our existing patches. Insects generally have a smaller range than birds, so in order for our garden network to become a corridor for insects, we need to ensure that the network becomes more dense. Furthermore, we will need to add a larger variety of plants to our patches, to ensure that there are flowering plants throughout the year.
These species of plant are important in support our insect life, which is a very important part of our ecosystem by pollinating our indigenous flowers to that they can create seeds and reproduce. Some insects are culturally and spiritually significant, such as the praying mantis (//Kaggen) which are beings that represent and embody shamen for the Khoi. Insects are also very important to human food production because a healthly and diverse insect community helps to keep pest insects in control. Insects pollinate plants such as fruit trees, helping them to produce fruit.
|Carpobrotus acinaciformis||Easy to grow|
|Carpobrotus edulis||Easy to grow|
|Plectranthus neochilus||Easy to grow|
|Moraea cf. fugax|
|Moraea cf. virgata subsp. virgata|
|Moraea fugax subsp. filicaulis|
|Moraea lewisiae subsp lewisiae|