Jewels in the Garden

groundbeetlesmDigging potatoes for dinner yesterday, I came across one of my favourite New Zealand insects—the metallic green ground beetle.

When I teach about this insect, I always tell the kids it’s magical because at first glance it appears to be just a large black beetle. A closer look, however, reveals shimmering green around the edges.

Some individuals are more spectacularly green than others, and the one I found yesterday was one of the most vibrant I’ve seen.

Metallic green ground beetles are welcome in the garden. As larvae and as adults they eat slugs, grass grubs, and caterpillars—some of my worst pests.

But I think that what makes metallic green ground beetles most special is that they are endemic, not just to New Zealand, but to the Canterbury region. That means they are found nowhere else on Earth but in this little region of New Zealand.

They aren’t rare or endangered—they thrive in nearly every environment. They have close relatives nearby. But I appreciate the fact they are our own unique jewels.