Using Animals as Natural Insect Control
Pests come in all shapes and sizes but some of the most annoying are the tiny insects. At times it seems as if there is nothing that you can do about them, but there are always options. A simple glance online or at your local store will show you a wide range of insecticides or other products designed to get rid of the insects. However, using chemicals to get rid of your insects may create another problem, harming the plants in your garden or the air in your home depending on where the infestation is occurring. Instead, one of the best natural options is to encourage specific animals or other insects that will feed on the pests. With these animals present, you will notice the amount of insects on your property decreasing dramatically, all without any harmful side effects or chemicals.
Many people are scared of bats, but in reality they are completely harmless and are one of the best options for keeping your property free from annoying insects. Some experts have even found that one bat has the ability to eat over 600 mosquitos in just one hour. That means that by encouraging bats to live on your property, or at least visit it regularly, you can drastically decrease the amount of mosquitos (or other insects).
Attracting a bat to your property is relatively straightforward. They need somewhere to stay such as an old shrub or tree, loose tree bark, hollow tree, your building’s eaves or a bat house. You can easily make or buy a bat house and as long as you have the right elements in your yard, they will come. Try planting some flowers that bloom at night to attract them (including moonflower, evening primrose, and night-blooming jessamine). Also keep in mind that bats like water features as insects will congregate there. If you add a bat house, make sure it is at least two feet by one foot by three inches and ten feet off the ground.
Barn swallows are another animal that will get rid of your unwanted insects and all you have to do is get it onto your yard. Some estimates say that these birds will eat 60 insects an hour which can add up to hundreds in the course of a day.
The best way to attract barn swallows to your yard is to make sure they have plenty of food and water as well as shelter and a place to nest. To get more food, try letting your grass grow a bit longer. This will encourage more insects to come and while that will be counterproductive at first, the swallows will end up reducing the quantity to well below the previous levels. Swallows are generally more attracted to moving water than stationary sources so consider a bird bath fountain. Swallows prefer to perch on antennas, wires, or clotheslines but also leave dead trees with holes available for nesting.
It is true that ladybugs are a type of insect, but most people don’t necessarily see them as pests. Even better, they will eat aphids which are known to eat your plants, ruining your garden. The easiest way to attract ladybugs to your yard is by offering them food such as pollen and pest insects. Ladybugs tend to prefer particular plants for getting their pollen and these include yellow or white flowers with flat flowers such as marigold. You also want to make sure there are enough pests around to attract the ladybugs in the first place and avoid using insecticides that may harm them.
Another bug that eats other insects for you is the dragonfly which will mostly prey on the mosquitos. The best way to attract dragonflies is to create a pond or something resembling one. Make sure that it has varying depths with shallow edges and a deep center (preferably two feet). The deep water will give the dragonflies a safe haven. To make the pond more enticing, add some shrubs and flat rocks nearby. Most of the time if you make a pond, nearby dragonflies will see and investigate, eventually moving in
Although small, hedgehogs can be another great way to stop insects from destroying your garden. Experts estimate that a hedgehog may eat 200 grams of these pesky insects every night. The first step to attracting a hedgehog is to make sure that they can enter your property, so avoid a solid fence or create a hole for them to enter. Hedgehogs are more likely to come to your property if you leave a bit of it wild with fallen branches and dead vegetation. If there aren’t a lot of covered areas in your yard, you can build or buy a house for the hedgehog to use during winter. You can also leave out food or water for hedgehogs including boiled eggs and chopped nuts.
Despite their name, slow worms are actually reptiles, specifically lizards without legs. Like the other animals mentioned, they also eat the insects considered to be pests. Because they are lizards, they will want a place to bask so make sure you have a log pile or some rocks for them to absorb the sun on. They will also enjoy a compost heap or something similar to live in.
A lot of people view wasps as annoying insects or even pests, but in reality they actually help get rid of the harmful insects. Some of the wasps are parasitic and will place their larvae in a host insect to hatch, effectively killing the insect in the process. Most of these types of wasps (Aphidiinae) can’t sting humans and are small enough where you won’t notice them. You can tempt them with specific plants such as those from the aster or mint family.
If you have an outdoor cat, you may already have the solution for your insect control problem. While cats tend to focus on larger animals such as rodents and birds, they will also occasionally eat insects, helping to keep your insect population low. Just make sure that your cat doesn’t reduce the local populations of birds and other small animals too much.