Useful animals in the garden

In these days of sustainable development and environmental protection, supporting animal and insect life in your garden is a necessity.

If you would like to use “entomophage” (insect-eating) creatures instead of toxic chemical insect killers, here are a few tricks to invite and house useful animals in the garden.

  • Birds, hedgehogs, ladybugs, and more…

Attracting birds

A bird will always find a way to berries in the garden.To attract useful birds (robins, crossbills, nuthatches, tits, siskins, etc), try to plant trees that produce seeds and achenes (acorns, nuts, beechnuts and hazelnuts), conifers and fruit trees.

They’ll serve a double purpose: board and lodging!

Also, feel free to neglect your flower garden somewhat: flowers that go to seed will produce food for the birds, too.

In winter, why not give them oil seeds and fat to fall back on when all else is gone.

Do not apply any chemical products that would poison them.

Attracting hedgehogs in the garden

A hedgehog is probably the single best way to deal with slugs.Hedgehogs are on the verge of disappearing because of pesticides and cars, which is a shame because they’re precious allies in the garden: they eat cockchafer grubs and mollusks that devour the roots of our vegetables.

To welcome one in your garden, prepare a hospitable environment for it, with a pile of wood where it can take refuge. Never burn a pile of dried leaves before checking that a hedgehog isn’t under it. Same thing when pruning your hedge.

In winter, give it apples or cat food but never give it milk (risk of diarrhea).

Of course, ban all kinds of pesticides and slug-killers from your garden, they would poison the little critter.

Attracting beneficial insects

A small house made of wood with lots of bamboo and straw fillings to create nesting holes for wild insects.To eliminate aphids without damaging the environment, nothing beats a ladybug colony.

But these little “Our Lady’s birds” aren’t the only useful insects.

Also protect green lacewings, bumblebees, bees and hunting wasps, hoverflies, forficules (earwigs) and ground beetles by giving them a “hotel” for them to hibernate. Butterflies deserve attention, too!

You can find on the market or in stores small huts made of wood with natural materials in them, with holes and nooks and crannies everywhere but you can also build your own.

Pierrick Le Jardinier

Tip on attracting beneficial animals

Get to know the animals that visit your garden… and let them get to know you, too! Take time to meditate in the garden, quietly praying and attuning yourself to nature. You’ll discover within minutes how much your garden is alive!

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Insect hotel in hedge by Joaquim Lorthiois, own work
Berry shrub for bird by Frederico Maderno under Pixabay license
Hedgehog on lawn by Bernard Fidel under © CC BY 2.0
Bumblebee inspecting insect hotel room availability by Joaquim Lorthiois, own work