By Rebecca Le Grice, Curator Natural History
& Johnathon Ridden, Associate Curator Natural History
Often we don’t notice the most abundant and diverse part of the Waitaha Canterbury community. This landscape is home to thousands of insect species which have lived here for millions of years. From beetles to admiral butterflies and perfectly camouflaged stick insects, some of these insects are so committed to the Canterbury lifestyle that they are found nowhere else in the world.
Bordered by ocean on one side and mountains on the other this landscape has a wide range of different habitats where insects can live. Before people arrived, this region was covered in vegetation including vast forests and wetlands. It isn’t possible to overstate the ecological and social importance of these often-forgotten critters. They are found in a variety of unique environments, from coastal dune ecosystems to sub-temperate rainforests, all the way up the mountain into grasslands and rocky scree slopes.
Sadly, extensive changes in the landscape and the climate have marginalised many species to pockets of remnant habitats and, in some cases, they have disappeared from the area.