Friendly animals for your garden
Just like mother nature has a variety of helpful insects to take care of pollination and pest control, there’s a selection of mammals and amphibians eager to get stuck in, too.
Most of these animals would be a delight if seen out and about, but you should be especially happy to see them in your garden as well. If you want to encourage more of these helpful animals to visit, take a look at our tips for how to entice them.
Mother nature works around the clock when taking care of your garden - the small hours are protected by the lovely bat population. From moths to midges, nocturnal flying insects are on the menu. Bats hunt their prey by emitting high pitched squeaks to locate flying food, locking on to the tiniest echoes that bounce back from their prey.
There are 18 species native to Britain, however you’re most likely to see the Common Pipistrelle flying around. Don’t underestimate them because of their small size - the pipistrelle can eat over 3,000 insects in a single night! These wonderful nocturnal animals should be a welcome addition to your garden if you want to keep control of harmful insects.
Bats can be fussy about where they choose to call home, but there are measures you can take to encourage them to visit your garden in the evening. Put up a bat box near your house or some trees.
Slow worms love to help out with any slug problems. Some snails, and other small invertebrates are also a firm favourite with these charming little creatures. They may look like snakes, but the slow worm is actually a lizard - even though they’ve got no legs!
You’re most likely to find them hiding in an undisturbed compost heap, as they relish the warmth released by decomposition. Encourage them to come to your garden by laying down a small strip of carpet, corrugated iron sheet, or a rubber mat. It will get really warm under there, and they will gratefully soak up the heat.
Frogs and toads
Frogs and toads are a fantastic natural pest control. They especially love helping themselves to slugs and snails, as well as various other insects they can get their tongues on. It is thought that a single toad will eat around 10,000 insects each summer! Tadpoles eat the algae in ponds, too, which will be a help for keeping the water clean.
A pond will not only do wonders for attracting frogs and toads to your garden’s rescue, but will also provide a wonderful source of water for other beneficial insects and animals. It’s important to include a gently sloping side to a pond, so that creatures can escape from the water if they’d like to.
These lovely little mammals are beloved visitors to many gardens. They can tackle the slugs, snails, beetles, and various other insects invading your veg patch and flowerbeds. The only tricky thing that hedgehogs face is eating enough food to last them through their hibernation in winter.
Hedgehogs are at risk of poisoning from slugs that have been subjected to pellets - as tempting as it might be, leave the slugs for this handy mammal to deal with! It’s important to check bonfire piles before you light them just in case a hedgehog has settled in for hibernation. They can also hole up in piles of leaves and debris scattered at the bottom of your garden, so remember to check these carefully before you move them.
You can also help hedgehogs by leaving out small amounts of supplementary food. Don’t leave out bread or milk, as neither are actually good for them. Think more along the lines of mealworms, cat or dog food, including biscuits. If you’ve got a pond in your garden, try to make sure that there’s a low sloping side to it so that a hedgehog can scramble out if it’s unfortunate enough to fall in. Adding a hedgehog house to your garden will give them a safe place to curl up for winter, too!
Birds are always going to be a massive help with keeping not only the insect population in check, but slugs, snails, spiders and beetles too. Wrens, robins, and tits will be especially helpful for taking care of any harmful beetles. Not only that, but a majority of them are pretty to look at and are a friendly addition to have in any garden.
The key to ensuring an influx of birds into your garden or outdoor area, is providing food for them. They will be especially grateful in the winter when naturally occurring food sources are scarce. An undisturbed pile of logs will attract a variety of insects, making sure that the birds will have plenty of grub to keep them occupied. Your garden birds will also need a source of water to drink from, as well as somewhere they can bathe - either a pond, bird bath or water feature will be the perfect solution.
Another way to attract birds to the garden is to put up a nest box. This will encourage them to roost near your home, and will give you year round helpers to tackle those pesky insects.
With these helpful animals visiting your garden, you can rest assured that nature has your pests under control. Remember to use pesticides sparingly, as this can also have a knock on effect of the living things that help your garden, too. If you want help with pollination, then the bees can sort you out.
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