What's looking at you from your compost heap?
A compost heap should be full of different types of insects. Broadly these are “shredders” and “predators”. Shredders are key to breaking down the organic matter. Predators prey on them. If you don’t have either your compost heap is probably not in very good shape.
We are often asked about insects in the compost pile.
In addition to having a healthy population of microbes and fungi, the presence of insects in your compost is indicative of a healthy ecosystem.
There are broadly two types of insects that you'll find in your heap: predators who eat the browsers/shredders.
The following is a list of insects that you'll generally see in your compost heap. This is not an exhaustive list and I've only focussed on the common visible insects. One can generally categorise these bugs into predators and shredders.
COMPOST HEAP PREDATORY INSECTS/ARACHNIDS
Frogs and Toads of various sorts.
This is a picture of the endangered Leopard Toad.
Various Types of Spiders
With all these insects running around the compost heap we'd expect to see spiders as well.
COMPOST HEAP SHREDDERS
These shred and help decompose the compost material. They are mostly beneficial in the compost heap (but some, like the Rose Beatle larvae, become a garden menace in their adult form).
Fruit Beatle Larvae
While doing a good job in your compost heap. As adults they’re a bit of a problem.
Black Soldier Fly and their Larvae
Sow Bugs and Pill Bugs
If you've seen any different insects in your compost pile please let us know.
Remember that these should be in balance. Too many of one type indicates that the heap is not healthy. The more diversity in the heap the healthier it is.