Larraine Roulston July’20

Gardening with Beneficial Insects

By Larraine Roulston

During WWI, Canadian residents were encouraged to utilize their yards to grow Victory Gardens. During our current lockdown, more people than ever are turning towards creating home veggie gardens. As current agricultural practices are also a concern, growing one’s own food Is an investment towards a healthier future.

While seeds grow, The Compost Council of Canada points out that “Compost’s role in the soil health story does not stop with fertility. Studies have shown that compost can be instrumental in raising disease resistance in soils, reducing the need for pesticides. Plants have immune systems that are very dependent on partnerships with microbes.”

Seedlings that contain organic compost, will continue to thrive. A handful of rich soil will hold a trillion microscopic creatures. The Rodale Book of Composting quotes, “By far the most important microscopic decomposers are bacteria, which do the lion’s share of decomposition in the compost heap.”

Fertile soil is created by a community of tiny decomposers. E. O. Wilson referred to insects as, “The little things that run the world.” In a compost heap you will find, ants, ground beetles, millipedes, sow bugs, spiders, springtails and worms. The following living creatures convert organic matter into compost:

Ants feed on a variety of things but will only remain if the heap is relatively cool. They have been contributed to making the compost even richer by moving materials into different areas.

Ground Beetles lurk in litter and soil spaces. Most of them feed on the organisms, but some nibble seeds and other vegetable matter.

Millipedes break down plant material by feeding directly on it

Sow bugs feed on rotting woody materials and highly durable tissues such as ligneous leaf veins.

Spiders contribute by feeding on insects and tiny invertebrates. They also help control garden pests.

Springtails are principally fungi feeders, though they eat nematodes and small bits of organic debris.

Worms are the champion recyclers. They have a brain and five pairs of hearts. An earthworm can produce its own weight in soil every 24 hours by eating and digesting material. The red wiggler worms are those used in vermicomposting but they will also thrive in a backyard composter.

During the 1980’s to help promote backyard composting, Joan Gilmour pended ‘The Compost Song’ sung to the tune of The Hokey Pokey. I thank Joan for allowing her ditty to be included in my books.

You put your wet greens in,
You spread your dry browns out,
You add a little water and you stir it all about.
You invite in all your bug friends
To have a two month feast,
Then shovel your compost out!

Related link:

~ Larraine writes children’s books that highlight the joy of composting and pollinating with the adventures of Pee Wee at Castle Compost. With illustrations, songs, and poems, the stories unearth the miracles of nature’s cycle of life. Fun and factual for all ages. To order, postage free visit: