In cities, a little native greenery can go a long way. Australian scientists found that, after adding native shrubs to a planting in Melbourne, the number of insect species at the site increased sevenfold.
The planting previously consisted of two trees and a grass lawn. In April 2016, scientists transformed the site, ripping up weeds, adding new soil, and planting 12 different kinds of native plants. Their aim: to see if the restoration of local flora would boost the diversity of native insects.
Researchers tallied the number of ants, bees, wasps, beetles, and other insects at the site, finding the number of species jumped nearly fivefold after one year and more than sevenfold after three years. In all, researchers counted 94 different insect species, 91 of which are native to the region. Their findings were published in the journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence.
The study shows how even small bits of greenery can help restore native insects to cities, said lead author Luis Mata, of the University of Melbourne. He added, “I’d love to see many more urban green spaces transformed into habitats for indigenous species.”