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Knowing Which Garden Critters Are Good for Your Plants

Part of the Container Gardening For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The plants in your container garden can benefit when you let certain insects and animals hang around your yard. Invite these beneficial creatures into your landscape to help you control pests:

  • Lady beetles, green lacewings, tachinid flies: They feed on small, soft-bodied insect pests and their eggs. Plant a variety of flowers, especially umbrella-shaped ones like yarrow and dill.

  • Dragonflies: They eat mosquitoes, aphids, and other insect pests. They thrive in wetlands, so add a small pond or leave a naturally marshy area in your landscape.

  • Bees: Honeybees, bumblebees, and other species are important pollinators. Avoid spraying pesticides, especially during the day when bees are out foraging.

  • Spiders: Most species are beneficial and help keep pests in check. Resist the urge to kill garden spiders when you see them.

  • Frogs and toads: They eat slugs and other plant pests. Create moist hiding places, such as piles of rocks and old branches, and overturned clay pots.

  • Bats: They eat countless mosquitoes, making your time in the garden more enjoyable. Put up a few bat boxes to invite them in.

  • Lizards: They eat pest insects. Include some flat rocks that get morning sun so the reptiles can warm themselves in preparation for a day of insect hunting.

  • Birds: Many songbirds eat pest insects and their eggs. Invite these feathered friends to your garden with houses, feeders, and birdbaths. Plant shrubs that produce berries.

And yes, even snakes and wasps have a place in a healthy garden ecosystem.

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