April 10th is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Day, in honor of the anniversary of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals–which was founded by a man in New York who witnessed a carthorse being beaten and decided to set up the now largest humane organization in the United States.
The ASPCA concerns itself primarily with the health and well-being of domesticated animals: providing shelters, poison control, training and advice, veterinarians, clinics, and pet loss support, and other services. While ASPCA Day is dedicated to domestic animals, it seems only appropriate to remember that all animals–wild and tame, big and small–are beneficial in our environment, even in our gardens… [photo via flickr]
Butterflies are pollinators
Butterflies are a beautiful addition to any backyard. Butterflies will pollinate the flowers in a garden. The only problem with butterflies is they will lay their eggs on plants, and their larvae (caterpillars) will eat the plants. To prevent this, merely inspect plants often and remove any eggs. Check out this article on how to draw butterflies in toward your own backyard.
We need honeybees
Honeybees will also pollinate flowers in a garden. They are not destructive, nor do they lay eggs on plants like butterflies. Honeybees are easy to keep and are not as dangerous as some do believe.
The usefulness of feral cats
Feral cats can be beneficial to a garden as well. Their presence will deter birds from eating a garden. While birds can be beneficial by eating insects, they also pick and eat at vegetables, fruits, seedlings, and flowers in a garden. Cats also chase and eat rodents that can be destructive to a garden. Encourage cats to hang around by leaving some food and water out near the garden area. The downfall of having cats around a garden is that they tend to use the dirt as their litter box, but this can be easily cleaned.
Spiders are good!
Spider webs can be troublesome when working in a garden, but having spiders is a good thing. Spiders will capture and eat many of the insects and bugs that wreak havoc on plants in a garden. Catching spiders and releasing them in the garden area will encourage them to move in and help out.
The need for fireflies
Another great insect for the garden is the firefly. These beetles feed on other insects as adults, and snails and slugs while in the larvae stage. They are completely harmless to people and plants, and their flashing lights can make a garden at night look more beautiful. You can find plenty of outlets that will ship you a few hundred fireflies for your backyard. They won’t all hang around after you release them–but it’s really fun to release a few hundred fireflies, anyway.
No need for chemicals
You can avoid using a lot of harsh chemicals by knowing which animals will help a garden flourish. Many of them are naturally in a garden and just need a little support to stay around. Others can be transplanted and encouraged to make a garden their home to the benefit of everyone.