Welcome the Least-Loved Critters

October 12, 2016
Bats

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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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This new corner of Almanac.com will feature news, information, and cool stuff from The Old Farmer’s Almanac and its family of publications.