Natural Pest Control: Invite the Right Wildlife into Your Yard
Author: Melanie DearringerNo Comments
You may not realize it, but your garden is a wild land filled with predators, pests, pollinators and a number of intricate subsystems. When all of this wildlife is in balance, the garden is healthy and requires little intervention from you to grow and produce fruits, vegetables and flowers. When the wildlife is out of balance, everything suffers. To attract the right inhabitants to your landscape, you have to first know what they are and how they’ll work for you.
What You Do Want
Ladybugs, spiders, hoverflies, wasps, lacewings, birds, bats, bees, butterflies and frogs are some of the most beneficial wildlife to have in your garden. Each of these creatures is a predator, eating unwanted pests, or a pollinator, fertilizing your garden naturally. There are three easy steps you can take to attract more beneficial wildlife:
- Plant a variety of species. Fruit trees and fruit-bearing shrubs provide food and shelter for birds. Flowering plants provide pollen nectar for bees and butterflies. Ground-cover plants give walking predators like beetles a safe place to roam.
- Never use pesticides. Pesticides don’t discriminate between helpful insects and harmful ones. Over time, the use of pesticides will strip your landscape of all natural predators and pollinators including bees and birds. With no natural predators, you’ll need to use more and more pesticides to control destructive insects.
- Build a home or two. What does a bat box, a toad abode and a frog pond have in common? They can all bring one of the world’s best gnat and mosquito predators into your yard. Providing your guests with a little extra food and water will also keep them coming back. Leave bits of fruit and quality seed in bird feeders and keep bird baths clean and filled with fresh water. Saucers tucked into shady places provide water for reptiles and butterflies.
What You Don’t Want
Basically any animal belonging in the rodent family is an unwanted garden pest. Gophers, chipmunks, voles, moles, shrews, mice, rabbits, rats and squirrels will burrow under plants and eat their roots, gnaw bark from trees, spread disease, dig up bulbs and new plants and generally make a mess of the yard. Once you’re yard is infested with these critters, it’s almost impossible to eradicate them without toxic repellents and traps. You can reduce the appearance of these unwanted animals with proper fencing and by keeping your yard clear of debris piles. Put that leaf blower to work and clean up the yard!
Deer are some of the most destructive pests known to gardeners. The most effective weapon against deer is a deer fence, but if building one isn’t practical for your yard, plant only deer-resistant plants like rosemary, foxglove and lavender.
Creating a yard that’s wildlife friendly can be a lot of fun. It’s exciting when you see a bird with a grasshopper in its beak or you notice that a toad is actually using the little “house” you made for him. Get the whole family involved in maintaining feeders and filling water sources, and your children will see the world of bugs and bats in a whole new light and so might you.