Guest contributor Georgie White from Mediaworks gives advice on what wildlife belongs in our gardens and how to attract them.
Often, we think that we need to keep the creepy crawlies out of our gardens to protect our plants — however, they could be a great help. From bees, which are important pollinators of various plants and fruiting trees, to ladybirds, which feast on aphids.
Together with Dobies, retailers of garden seeds, we take a look at the wildlife that you should be more welcoming to and why.
Welcoming butterflies and bees
These creatures could make the perfect companion for your garden. They are natural pollinators, which means that they help spread your flowers around the garden and encourage growth.
Planting colourful flowers could also help attract this type of wildlife. Bees are attracted to these plants, as they source their energy from sugar-filled nectar and the pollen provides bees with protein and fat.
To bring a group of bees at one time, you should place your plants strategically together. Also, plant flowers that bloom at different times of year to encourage your flying friends to come to your garden.
An insight to insects
Although you may think that the majority of insects are a nuisance, some aren’t. Some of them can protect your plants from infestations of smaller creatures.
One insect that is problematic for gardeners are aphids. The small insects, also known as the greenfly and blackfly, suck saps from plants and excrete it as honeydew. This sticky substance then falls on the lower leaves of the plant which can be harmful to its growth. Photosynthesis becomes inhibited and the plant becomes deprived of energy. In extreme aphid attacks, the insects can fully smother the plant — causing it to become stunted and weak, which leads it to die.
However, lady birds can protect you from any harmful attacks. It is the larvae from these bugs that are predators of soft-bodied insects such as aphids. Encourage ladybirds to visit your garden by providing them with a water source. Fill saucers with pebbles and water, this allows the insect to take a drink without falling in and drowning.
If you can, encourage damsel bugs to stay in your garden. They feed on aphids, small caterpillars and other irritating small creatures — helping your crop thrive!
Insects that you must keep out
Some insects must be kept out of your garden at all costs. Slugs and snails for example leave holes in leaves and feast on your fresh green shoots.
To stop these creatures making their way onto your land, encourage hedgehogs! They are a gardener’s best friend, as they feed on snail, slugs and other insects. To encourage hedgehogs into the garden, leave food out for them. This could be minced meat or tinned dog and cat food. Although people think that the creatures enjoy drinking milk, you shouldn’t leave this out for hedgehogs. It can upset their stomach and lead them to become dehydrated. You can also leave areas of the garden to grow wild with piles of leaves and overgrown grass to encourage hedgehogs to set up camp.
you’re a lover of ducks and chickens, these can help consume the unwelcomed insects. However, don’t expect your neat rows of fruit and vegetables to stay that way!