Welcome the Least-Loved Critters

June 24, 2013

Credit: Marc Feldman
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It turns out that there are some garden “pests” that you should welcome with open arms.  The Old Farmer’s Almanac All-Seasons Garden Guide explains how some other creepy creatures can be great garden helpers. So you may want to think again before sending ill-will towards them.

WELCOME THE LEAST-LOVED CRITTERS

 

PRAISE SNAKES:

  • Garter snakes are most common in North America and are no threat at all to humans.

  • Their backyard prey include slugs, grasshoppers, and small rodents, including the voles that chew bark off your fruit trees.

  • They eat bullfrog tadpoles, because adults are too big to swallow. In fact, Adult bullfrogs devour garter snakes, so many that in some areas, garter snake populations have declined.


ROMANCE A TOAD:

  • These amphibians go to work when the Sun goes down looking for mosquitoes, slugs, sow bugs, flies, beetles, cutworms, and caterpillars.

  • Toads have gotten a bum rap as the cause of warts. However, warts are caused by a human virus.


BRING ON THE BATS:

  • Without bats, we would be up to our necks in bugs. From dusk til dawn, bats skim the skies with open mouths, devouring mosquitoes, wasps, flies, gnats, midges, moths, and beetles.

  • Bats are in deadly danger. Millions have been killed by a fungal disease called White-nose syndrome. Insects may be celebrating, but gardeners and farmers are not.


SET YOUR SIGHTS ON SPIDERS:

  • Spiders eat lots and lots of insects. These super predators spin webs to help catch their prey. Their webs are even used by Hummingbirds to glue their nests together.  

  • Did you know, Spider silk reflects UV light, which warns away birds but attracts bugs.


Ginger Vaughan has worked for The Old Farmer's Almanac for over a decade. Like the Almanac she strives to be "useful, with a pleasant degree of humor." 

Comments

We've had a black snake

By Willadean

We've had a black snake around our house for over 30 years. Not the same one obviously. We don't bother them and they haven't bothered us. We've had garter snakes as well as bats. The garden spiders and orb spiders are left alone as well. We live in the country and they are a part of the country living.

We live on the central coast

By Darlene Poppe

We live on the central coast of CA. I have not seen garter snakes here but we did have them in MN. We do have gopher snakes and they are also a help in keeping down on mice and such. I think they also help keep down rattle snakes...

We live on the central coast

By Darlene Poppe

We live on the central coast of CA. I have not seen garter snakes here but we did have them in MN. We do have gopher snakes and they are also a help in keeping down on mice and such. I think they also help keep down rattle snakes...

I live next to a creek and

By Kimmie Lowe-Munoz

I live next to a creek and have LOTS of Garter's. They are my buddies and I try really hard to avoid them with the mower, I even leave the grass a little higher to help them survive. Some of the neighborhood boys think that I am crazy when I tell them that I will skin THEM if I catch them messing with my snakes! I have even caught them in my house and caught them and put them back outside. I am a bat-lover as well.

snakes are ok if their not to

By karen neilson

snakes are ok if their not to close to your house we live on a farm and behind my green-house we found hundreds of them down gopher holes that is way to close to our living quarters we took some away but had to kill alot of them ,we were afraid they would envade our house

Thanks for a great article!

By Marla Cilley

Thanks for a great article!

this snake is so nasty and

By kaytlinn bruin

this snake is so nasty and very ugly!!! Why would you take a picture of it??? yuck!!!

Did you not read the article,

By Michael Puntillo

Did you not read the article, they're helpful and have a purpose here. Did you ever think that the garter snake thinks that you're the ugliest thing it has ever seen. What an ignorant and idiotic comment.

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