Inviting Nature to Dinner | By Helen Schwencke & Dick Copeman (book)

$32.00 Incl GST

The benefits of bringing biodiversity to our backyards

By Helen Schwencke & Dick Copeman
Brisbane: Earthling Enterprises, October 2020.


Nature is at a crisis point. Land clearing, climate change, chemicals and invasive species are decimating the living creatures with whom we share the planet. We may feel powerless to challenge these global trends, but we are not. This book shows how, by starting in our own gardens, we can begin to make a difference, amply shown by Helen’s 33-year-old butterfly and wildlife garden.

Insects comprise the great majority of all animal species and play key roles in the ecology of our world, including converting plants into food for other creatures. Many insects depend on specific plants to feed their larvae. By planting these native host plants in our gardens, we can support healthy populations of insects that will not only support the whole complex web of life but will also help protect our plants from the very small percentage of insects that can adversely affect them. An added bonus is that some of these native host plants are also edible for us.

Helen Schwencke and Dick Copeman take the reader on an exciting journey into the world of small creatures. Based on both academic and citizen science, eminently readable and beautifully illustrated, their text also provides practical advice on designing your garden and sourcing plants for it, so that you too can join them in Inviting Nature to Dinner.


Table of contents

1 Why this book? 1
   Decline of insects and other invertebrates    2
Habitat destruction    3
Chemicals   3
Invasive species    5
Climate change    5
Ecological simplification    5
A role for gardeners    6
2  The diversity of life – why every species counts    7
    Overview of life-forms, classification, life cycles, behaviour and ecology   8
Lifeforms on Earth – how they are classified    8
The diversity of life    10
Insect diversity   12
Insect life cycles    12
3  The ecology of growing our food    16
   Plants    16
Food webs    16
Insects    18
Allies and competitors    19
Population cycles    20
Plants and insects    20
Larval and adult food plants    23
Pollination    24
Coming face-to-face with our subject    25
4  Wildlife friendly gardening    30
   How to support native wildlife in your garden    30
Grow local native plants    30
Grow a diverse range of plants    31
Grow host plants for caterpillars other insect larvae    32
Grow local native flowering plants, especially those that are good nectar producers    33
Grow local native plants that are edible    34
Attract native wildlife to your vegetable garden and orchard    34
Grow plants with dense or prickly foliage    35
Grow plants that produce a lot of seed or fruit    36
Leave the old and the dead in place    37
Protect and nurture the soil    38
Provide water    39
How to plan a wildlife-friendly garden    41
Goals for the garden    41
Other considerations    41
Sketch a plan    41
Assess and analyse your site    42
Select your plants    42
Place your plants    43
5  Native food plants we can share    46
Case studies of native food plants that are also
food for butterfly larvae and other wildlife       47
Native Mulberry for Jezebel Nymph    49
Scrub caper for Caper White    51
Flame Tree  for Tailed Emperor    53
Macadamia for Bright Cornelian    55
Finger Lime & Pink Limeberry  for Dainty & Fuscous Swallowtail   57
Long-leaved Bolwarra for Eastern Dusk-flat  59
Slender Grape Vine for Joseph’s Coat Moth    61
Zig Zag Vine for Pale Triangle    63
Millaa Millaa Vine  for  Indigo Flash    65
Stinging Nettle for Yellow Admiral    67
Emu Foot  for Chequered Swallowtail    69
Kangaroo Grass for Evening Brown   71
Shade Plantain for Meadow Argus    73
6  Ecological strategies to control common garden ‘pests’     74
   Lepidoptera   75
Diptera    77
Hemiptera    78
Orthoptera   80
Other Invertebrates    80
Arachnida    80
Molluscs    81
7  Building ecological complexity      82
8  Recipes for native food plants we can share      84
   Macadamia, Warrigal Greens  and Lemon Myrtle Pesto   84
Bunya Dooja Cake   85
9  Conclusion – What can we do?    86
Appendices       88
   Appendix 1:  Site assessment and analysis
Appendix 2: Some plants (mostly edible) that support butterflies and other wildlife in
south east Queensland and northern NSW
Appendix 3: Where to obtain native and bushfood plants in south east Queensland
References   100
Bibliography and Further Reading   103
About the authors   105
Index    106

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