For some gardeners who want to attract wildlife into their garden they sometimes fail to realise that by taking certain actions to attract a particular species, they are, perhaps, unwittingly also bringing other creatures into the garden too. Nowhere is the dichotomy felt greater than when we consider insects and, for some people, the word ‘insect’ simply conjures up negative connotations and has them reaching for the pesticide spray. However, this action is not recommended and, what gardeners should appreciate is that, in wishing to attract a certain living thing into a garden, they need to create an ecological system that can support that and, like it or loathe it, insects play a very important role in this whole process. In fact, many insects and bugs do far more good than harm in our gardens. Not only do they do a lot of ‘invisible work’ but without them, many species would simply die.
What Kind Of ‘Work’ Do Insects Perform?
In terms of looking at the kinds of tasks which insects perform, we can broadly divide them into 2 categories – pollinators and decomposers. For example, bees, flies, butterflies and beetles move pollen around as they search for nectar. Flowers, therefore, become fertilised and are then able to produce seeds and, when you think that we also rely on food that has been made possible by a pollinator, you can begin to appreciate the value of these insects. Decomposers such as dung beetles and other tiny micro-organisms eat once living materials, breaking them down into much simpler molecules whose nutrients can be used in compost to sustain plants for future growth. Once again, a simple example of how even human food often begins with the help of insect activity.
Instead of reaching for the pesticides when confronted with a creepy-crawly, it’s important to remember that it’s insects themselves who help maintain the ecological balance in our gardens far better than we ever could as humans. They provide food for birds, frogs and a whole host of other creatures whom we’re often attempting to attract into our gardens in the first place so ensuring biodiversity and creating a healthy garden ecosystem. So, if you want to attract wildlife into your garden in the first place, it’s important to understand its ecosystem in the first place and to accept that for a proper wildlife garden to flourish, that also means creating an environment in which insects are attracted to as well.
So, What About Things Like Slugs and Mosquitoes?
Well, the first thing to remember is that both slugs and mosquitoes are food sources for a number of other creatures whom we may want to keep in our garden but who rely upon these kinds of things in their diet. Slugs are full of protein, for example, ideal for a beetle or frog and bats will eat hundreds of mosquitoes each night so you should be wary before destroying these types of often ‘unwanted’ creatures. However, mosquitoes can be kept at bay with the likes of citronella candles and by using repellents and warm, soapy water is a far less harmful method of eliminating slugs than by using pellets which can also kill other helpful insects and even domestic pets.
In essence, if a particular insect is causing problems to your garden, you should always ask yourself whether or not you’re able to remove the problem by hand before resorting to more harmful methods.
Everything that lives in our garden is there for a reason and, although some bugs can cause misery both to humans and plants, there is usually a solution other than pesticides to get rid of the problem and your garden centre will be able to give you the best advice. So, before reaching for the pesticides, always consider what other creatures you could also be killing too, and try to seek an alternative solution first.