There are some people out there that spend a lot of time and money investing in keeping wild animals and critters from finding a home. There are all sorts of sprays, traps, electronic devices, noise machines, and old-fashioned scarecrows employed in the art of dissuading animals from coming around.
Sometimes, some of it is warranted. Raccoons and deer can wreck a garden in just a night. Certain insects are infamous for infestations, decimating a good crop of squash or stripping a beautiful trellis of bean stalks of all its leaves. While we might not call for killing such animals, many of us would understand the drive to drive them away.
But, there are also a ton of beneficial animals that can turn up in a yard. These are animals that cause very little mischief but might bring with them quite a lot of positive impacts. There are a whole lot of animals you want to see in the yard.
1. Non-Venomous Snakes
By and large, snakes get a bad rep because there is a small percentage that is dangerous when a mistake occurs. For the most part, snakes are doing a service for human habitats. They keep rodent populations under control, and smaller snakes—the ones we often see in the garden—are working on pests like slugs and snails.
They can be a bit smelly. Their teeth can seem a little threatening. But, opossums are fairly harmless, docile creatures that are great for pest control, and they are especially talented at doing away with ticks. Some sources say one possum can eat around 5,000 ticks in a season. Get a couple visiting the yard, and that’s better than any toxic spray on the market.
3. Frogs (Toads)
Frogs are great garden guests because they’ll go after different insects and pests that might attack the plants. They are also a great indicator that the ecosystem is clean. However, in terms of utility, one of the most desirable characteristics of frogs and toads is their ability, particularly as tadpoles, to control the mosquito population. They eat the larvae, so mosquitoes never make it to the porch.
4. Lizards (Geckos/Skinks)
Lizards are harmless creatures for humans, but they can impact the food chain of the yard. They’ll work overtime hunting and devouring different pests and insects, even diving into crevices and nooks that we can’t see or control. Like frogs and toads, a good lizard population is also a sign that the yard ecosystem is clean.
Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators are great to have in the yard. As they dance about from flower to flower, they are pollinating fruit and vegetable plants and keeping the whole world humming. These insects are important on a far larger scale than just the yard, so keeping them happy and well-fed is a plus for everyone.
Like snakes, bats have a horrible reputation, which is largely undeserved. They are often fingered as the cause for and carriers of different diseases, but most of us never come into close contact with a bat. Meanwhile, they are assassins for flying insects, namely mosquitoes, and will work tirelessly on the night shift to get rid of them. They are great for the yard and garden.
There are certain birds, like crows and blue jays, that can cause a problem in vegetable gardens, and others will go after the berry bushes. But, for the most part, birds are a wonderful thing to see in the yard. They eat lots of pests, and some will scarf down weed seeds. Some pollinate. Others will hunt mice and rats by day or night. All the while, they are dropping fertilizer everywhere.
8. Predatory Insects
While many insects are considered pests, prone to eating vegetable and ornamental plants, equally as many species are trying to hunt down these pests for dinner. Ladybugs, praying mantis, green lacewings, and assassin bugs are on keeping pest populations in check. These are bugs that we want to see in the garden, but if we use pesticides, they’ll suffer, and everything will be out of whack on so many levels.
In short, an ecosystem is made up of all sorts of animals, beneficial and pest-like, but we need them all to keep things healthy and functioning. So, in reality, all animals are good to see in the yard, but it’s nice to know that some of them are helping us out as they go about their daily chores. Those are the animals we want to spot.
This article by Jonathon Engels was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 4 September 2022. Lead Image Source : Tambako the Jaguar/Openverse.
What you can do
Support ‘Fighting for Wildlife’ by donating as little as $1 – It only takes a minute. Thank you.
Fighting for Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising. When making a donation you can designate for which type of initiative it should be used – wildlife, oceans, forests or climate.