By Tori Linville
Anyone who’s ever grown (or tried to grow) a vegetable or flower garden almost always thinks of the actual fruits of labor first: the beautiful pops of colorful flowers or the delicious tomatoes, strawberries or other veggies. After all, that’s ultimate reward for all the hard work. What some might not think about right away, however, is the fact that predators are also lying in wait, and they have the potential to uproot everything. What can be done? Certain insects, birds and yes, even snakes can be helpful to your garden. These are a few of the best agents you’ll want to see bustling in your plants.
Put simply, the best insects for a garden are the ones that promote the good and destroy the bad. This can range from a number of multi-legged assistants, so we narrowed it down to the top three. As always, research is key before introducing any pesticides to your garden.
These little bugs as adults have large, veiny wings that take up the majority of their body composition. They feed on flower nectar to keep their stamina. The benefit comes with lacewing larvae. These bug babies feed on a variety of garden enemies like aphids, moth eggs, small caterpillars, mites and more.
Predatory bugs is an all encompassing term, of course, but one that means a lot to the average garden. A few of these are pirate bugs, ambush bugs, soldier bugs, big-eyed bugs, etc. The majority take on some variation of what looks to be a type of beetle. These insects are important because they destroy harmful bugs such as tomato hornworms, spider mites, leafhopper nymphs, etc. These bugs stick to bunched grasses and other permanent plantings. These types are so important that a lure has been made to attract soldier bugs to gardens.
Ground Beetles are long-legged and shiny and hard to miss. They hide in the dark under logs and other shelters during the day, and scurry to safety when disturbed. These helpers eat root maggots, slugs, snails and more. To amp up your ground beetle population, simply providing ground covers such as stones or logs will do the trick.
While these are just a few, other helpers such as ladybugs, honeybees, spiders and more can all be a great help to garden threats.
Virtually all of a bird’s diet consists of insects, so almost every bird can help a garden in some way. Narrowing down the list from the obvious always helps, but experts say there’s no straightforward answer. Every garden and bird is different, so hoping for the best and providing welcoming accommodations for winged friends is helpful. We’ve some birds that can help your garden grow beautifully with by targeting garden pests.
These beauties can spot grasshoppers from 100 feet away – a good agent to have for your garden. Bluebirds prefer open areas and low perches in order to attack prey. Adding a fence or tomato trellis can do the trick to attract these grasshopper enemies.
This common bird has a diet that is almost all insects and spiders. They aren’t selective and will nest anywhere that’s comfortable. They gravitate towards low-lying shrubs and brush piles that provide good cover
Almost everyone has either seen a hummingbird feeder or even has one. Put it to better use by moving it near your garden to reap the benefits. These little racers enjoy varied diets of aphids, gnats and fruit flies.
While these birds are helpful, they will only be attracted to environments that suit their needs. A water source combined with various opportunities for nesting in brush piles, dead trees and other places can be attractive.
These curvy reptiles aren’t on most peoples’ list of cuddly creatures to approach. So finding one in your garden can be surprising, but isn’t a reason for alarm. Usually snakes found in a garden are actually doing you a favor. The serpents eat insects and rodents that can inflict damage on a garden. They do so without ever burrowing holes, trampling plants or damaging the environment in any way.
The most common snakes found in the garden are garter snakes and certain constrictors. Garter snakes, often called ‘gardener snakes,’ and other related snakes such as ribbon snakes, green snakes and others can be found. These snakes eat mostly insects with the occasional mouse thrown in for good measure.
Constrictor snakes such as King snakes, Rat snakes and others live on rodents that can harm a garden.
The most important thing to remember is that if you come across a snake, it’s most likely more terrified than you are. The different species listed above are all reclusive and non-aggressive animals. Additionally, most snakes in the U.S. are nonpoisonous, so simply returning at a later time is the best course of action if you spot a snake in your garden.