A single Red-back female can produce up to 1000 eggs over her lifetime.

Beneficial Bugs

People often think that all bugs are pests. In fact, the vast majority of bugs are harmless, and many are beneficial to humans. Insects and other bugs pollinate human crops, decompose dead plants and animals, and are a major source of food for other animals.


Pollination is the process of transferring pollen from the male parts to the female parts of flowering plants so that they can form seeds and fruits. Partnerships between bugs and flowering plants began over 100 million years ago and insects have always been the main pollinators. Humans are very dependent on this process, as flowering plants are the main source of food, timber and fibre, and provide forage crops for livestock.

Environmental Indicators

Water bugs are excellent indicators of water quality and ecosystem health. This is because each aquatic bug species can tolerate a particular level of pollution, temperature, mud or silt in the water. While a few bug species are highly tolerant, most will die with changes to their environmental conditions or increases in pollution. By sampling the aquatic bugs in a pond or stream, scientists can accurately assess the water quality and detect changes in that area over time.


Many bugs live by transforming dead plants and animals into nutrients. These decomposers are essential for healthy ecosystems, and are as important to natural environments as they are to suburban compost bins.

Dung Beetles

The dung beetle is an important decomposer. There are about 7000 species of dung beetles worldwide and between them they clean up the mess left behind by the rest of the animal kingdom. By burying dung, these beetles recycle nutrients, aerate the soil and reduce fly numbers.

Australia’s 400 species of native dung beetles are efficient at cleaning up the small, dry dung pellets produced by kangaroos and wombats. Cowpats, however, are a different story! When cows were introduced to Australia, our native dung beetles could not cope with their huge, wet cowpats. Soon grazing land became fouled and fly numbers rocketed to plague proportions.

To solve the problem, 56 different species of dung beetle were introduced from around the world. Of these, 20 species are still happily eating and burying the 12 million cowpats produced every hour by Australia’s 30 million cows.

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Wood White Butterfly Pollinating, link to large image Pollination

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Mosquito Larvae, link to large image Environmental indicators

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Dung Beetle, link to large image Decomposers
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