Welcome the Least-Loved Critters

By The Old Farmer's Almanac
Oct 12, 2016


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It turns out that there are some garden “pests” that you should welcome with open arms. Some creepy creatures can be great garden helpers. So you may want to think again before sending ill-will towards them.

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.
  • Even the house or “cellar” spiders are helpful. These daddy-long-legs create cobwebs that capture insects such as ants and roaches and even other spiders. They’re harmless to humans, so maybe cobwebs aren’t in the cellar aren’t so terrible!
  • Did you know? Spider silk reflects UV light, which warns away birds but attracts bugs.

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How do you get bats to come to your home? Is there any guaranteed method of getting them to hang out at your place and stay?

attracting bats

Installing bat houses may help to attract these animals to your area. If you’d like to build or install a bat house, you can find guidelines at Bat Conservation International. Bat houses are also sometimes available at garden supply centers. Bats tend to frequent bat houses more often if they are positioned on buildings or poles instead of on trees, but bats also like dead trees (without the bat house) to roost in. There is no guarantee that a bat may take up residence in a bat house, and it may take a year or so for them to do so. But once they do, they may return to it year after year.

I love snakes, bats, toads

I love snakes, bats, toads etc. My friend once ran over an already dead snake in the road and she almost killed us and her two young children by panicking, swerving and screaming. I must have watched too much Crocodile Hunter (Steve Irwin) and used to pick up huge snakes by their tail. Toads I check my window well daily in the summer to scoop out any that fell in. Bats I haven't seen one in over a year so maybe they are extinct or on the way.

attracting bats

For those who want more active bats in their yard, place those little solar lights randomly through out your yard. There is just enough light to attract bugs, and feed the bats.

Classic Literature and the Moon

Mostly Gothic Lit (not to be confused with Goth culture) relies heavily on a full moon. But does other literature relyo on other phases of the moon? Do different seasonal moons create different folklore (recorded in literature - fiction - novels, short stories)? If yes, how - in what ways?

Along our bike path in

Along our bike path in Hillside Ill. There was a massive Garter snake ball ,you could smell it 20 ft. away there must have been 2000 snakes doing that MIRACLE thing called the circle of life. SPRING !

We've had a black snake

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

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

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

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

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!

Thanks for a great article!

this snake is so nasty and

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

Did you not read the article,

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.

Beauty is in the eye of the

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.....this is actually a very beautiful specimen of a garter snake. I do everything I can to protect hem, they eat tons of bugs, mice and voles. I don't even kill rattlesnakes, they eat a lot of mice and voles. Snakes don't attack you unless they are threatened, if you come across a garter snake just stomp your foot, they move away. They are harmless to humans.

Ignorance breeds fear;

Ignorance breeds fear; education takes care of that.


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