Posted 15th Jun 2018
When it comes to considering the wildlife which could benefit your garden, insects may not be the first thing you think of
The thought of hungry pests viewing the fruits of your labours as their potential dinner can make you want to keep them at bay. However, there are some you should be wholeheartedly welcoming into your garden, as Dobies explain to us here.
Bees and butterflies are an obvious addition to want in any garden, creating that perfect spring picture. However, they have the added benefit of also being natural pollinators, helping you to spread your flowers around the garden, encouraging growth too.
Try luring bees and butterflies into your garden by using brightly-coloured petals. Bees will be attracted to these plants, as they source their energy from sugar-filled nectar, while the pollen will give the bees both protein and fat.
By clustering your garden plants together, you’re more likely to draw bees to your garden in greater numbers. Planting flowers that bloom at different times of the year is another way of encouraging your winged friends to visit.
Protect the petals
Some insects will cause problems for your plants - why not get around this by enlisting certain other insects to protect your plants from infestations of smaller creatures?
An example of this is aphids - they can wreak havoc on flowers and shrubbery. The small insects, commonly known as greenfly and blackfly, suck the sap from plants and excrete is as honeydew. The sticky substance then falls on the lower leaves of the plant which can be harmful to all of its growth.
Photosynthesis will become inhibited and the plant becomes deprived of energy. In more extreme attacks, the insects will end up fully smothering the plant, leaving it stunted and weak, causing it to die.
Get around this by welcoming ladybirds to your garden. The larvae from these bugs are predators of soft-bodied insects, including aphids. Encourage them to your garden by offering a water source - fill these saucers with pebbles and water, as it allows the insect to take a drink without the risk of falling in and drowning.
Along with the ladybirds, you should also welcome the damsel bug. Feeding on aphids, small caterpillars and other irritating small creatures, they will help your crops to thrive.
Deter snails and slugs
Other creatures may view your plants as a garden salad, with slugs and snail leaving holes in leaves and feasting on fresh green shoots.
That’s where the hedgehog comes in. A gardener's best friend, they feed on snail, slugs and other insects too. They encourage hedgehogs into the garden and leave the food out for them. This can be minced meat or tinned dog and cat food. While people think the creatures enjoy drinking milk, you should not leave this out for the hedgehogs, as it can upset their stomach, leaving them dehydrated. Another option is to leave areas of the garden to grow wild with piles of leaves and overgrown grass to let your hedgehogs set up camp.
Another option would be to encourage other animals into your garden too - for instance, birds and wild ducks, who feed on problem insects. However, don't expect your neat rows of fruit and vegetables to remain that way for long!