Need Assistance? 01384 442752 (UK)

Permaculture Insects

Insects are an important component of any permaculture system. They will exist there whether you want them or not; and they will have both negative and positive impacts upon the system, irrespective of what you do.
A good permaculturist will strive to understand and appreciate those insects inhabiting a property, the way they can potentially damage or control the ecosystem and learn how to manage the insect populations for optimum benefit of the site.
Remember too insects can damage plants and animals. They can spread disease, eat living tissues and disrupt the normal functions of other organisms (e.g. impairing reproduction). They are also important for pollinating plants, removing organic waste, maintaining soil fertility, and provide an important food source for many other animals including birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. Insects are also eaten by around 80% of the world’s human population.
If you wish to be truly self-reliant on a permaculture property, you may consider including insects in your diet; however, for many people (particularly from western culture), it may take some adapting to get used to the idea of eating insects rather than steak and chicken.
Insects that are eaten include:
  • Agave Worms –Large fat moth larvae; eaten as part of a meal in Mexico.
  • Leafcutter Ants –said to taste like a cross between pistachio and bacon; eaten in South America
  • Honeypot Ants –part of the body is swollen and filled with a nectar like substance.
  • Bee larvae –sautéed in butter.
  • Centipedes –Sold and eaten as street food on skewers in China
  • Cicadas –harvested just after moulting when the body is softer and tender. Eaten in parts of Asia
  • Crickets –Eaten in South East Asia and Mexico, either fried, roasted or boiled
  • Grasshoppers –Roasted and eaten with chilli in Mexico
  • Termites –taken from mounds and eaten raw in Kenya
  • Lots more
Populations of insects are continually changing according to:
  • Climate (how suitable it has been in recent times for the insect)
  • Host plants for the pests (Their prominence)
  • Predators (The activity of other animals which affect the insect)
People’s general activities such as removing from, or adding to the system (e.g. pruning, grazing animals, harvesting, spraying chemicals) may affect the insect's growth or decline.
These factors must be continuously considered and action taken to compensate any undesirable affect being delivered upon the insect populations. A plan for these types of activities should be devised for each quarter or season and written records outlining the action taken need to be kept.
An insect is an animal classified into the class "insecta". It has the following characteristics:
  • An exoskeleton (i.e. the skeleton is a hard shell on the outside of the body not hard bones within the body like in fish or higher animals).
  • The body is segmented into three sections - the head, the thorax, the abdomen
  • There are three pairs (6 in total) legs attached to the thorax.
  • There are normally one or two pairs of wings (occasionally no wings).
  • There is one pair of antennae attached to the head.
  • The head contains a pair of eyes, antennae and mouth parts.
Characteristics of the mouth parts and antennae are used in distinguishing one type of insect from another.
Bees are another type of insect that can become an integral part of a permaculture system.
Bee keeping can provide honey; but it can also be an important tool in increasing the productivity of fruit trees and vegetables. 
A mutually beneficial relationship in the permaculture garden requires a holistic approach. In order to fulfill this, we need to understand how the colony works as a complete living entity, also how it interacts with the environment including other living organisms around.
Keeping bees for honey can be done in a small scale. The small scale farming enterprise is ideal as overcrowding of populations is completely unnatural – like it is for most species. Honey bees which are mass farmed do become susceptible to disease and parasites.
Remember one of the basic principles of permaculture is having knowledge of and appreciation for the inter connectedness all of living things in an environment.
The Hive
A beehive consists of a base, boxes which hold the frames, a lid and some sort of fastening device to hold the whole lot together so it does not fall apart in a strong wind. Beehives are made of a number of sizes - boxes can hold either 8 or 10 frames and they come in 3 different depths. When starting off try to have boxes of the same dimensions so all the frames are of the same size and everything fits together neatly.

[17/08/2022 18:29:06]

More from ACS

Permaculture Systems

This courses includes the PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate); and more.