Okay, spring is finally here, the days are longer and warmer and there is the chance to spend more time outside, perhaps gardening or just hanging out. Great. But this also means there are likely to be more human-critter confrontations, especially face-to-face dustups with creepy-crawly suspects that give many people the shivers and find themselves subject to an unjustified whacking. No one is suggesting turning the other cheek, but perhaps people need to give some of these specimens a wider path if not more respect because they just may be doing a lot more good than harm. Fear not. WellWell has identified some candidates for unrecognized outdoor appreciation if not love. Chances are, you’ll be thankful they’re around. Read on.
Forget the whole witches’ connection. Toads may not be attractive, but they are a boon for gardens. They feast on slugs, snails and insects, which are no friends to flowers, plants and veggies. Want proof? A single toad can munch 10,000 bugs in the course of one summer. FYI, unlike frogs, they don’t live in water, but they do prefer moist environments.
Spiders are another pesticide-free way of controlling insects. They dine on mosquitoes, flies, mites, aphids and roaches, which means these insects are not hanging out in gardens. Ultimately, this helps keep the natural ecosystem in balance.
Dragonflies and damselflies are not only kind of cool, but they are also great winged hunters of mosquitoes, midges and gnats. In fact, they reportedly have a 95 percent success rate when hunting prey. That’s not only impressive, but it also makes it easier to spend quality time in your garden or simply hang outside in the summer.
Snakes have always had a bad reputation. Yes, a few are poisonous, but encounters with worrisome snakes are few and far between. Let’s just chalk up their poor ratings to Adam and Eve. Let’s also note that they have a healthy appetite for insects and rodents, which keeps these buggers from nibbling on garden vegetables like cucumbers and lettuce. Most times, in fact, the unsuspecting gardeners are likely to come across a harmless Garter or black snake. When this happens, snakes and people alike should just take a chill and go their separate ways to the benefit of all involved.
Admittedly, ants can be overwhelming and annoying at times, especially when food is around. But short of these encounters, these little guys can do wonders for a garden by making small tunnels in the soil, fostering better irrigation and helping to turn over nutrients that help feed your plants. As a bonus, they also eat eggs and larvae of flies, fleas, bed bugs and cockroaches, which helps hold down pests in the garden.
Earthworms are unappreciated by almost everyone except fishermen. They are garden superstars. They process organic material both in the soil and in your compost pile while recycling the contents into nutrients. All this helps improve the soil by providing access to air and water and also allowing plants to root more effectively.
Centipedes and millipedes claim a special role in the soil food web. The centipede, for example, is the top predator, along with being the largest terrestrial invertebrate, helping to keep the ecosystem in balance. For those living in an area without earthworms, the millipede is a banner substitute. They can assist in leaf decomposition, while also working with other soil microorganisms to transform organic debris into bang-up, nutrient-rich soil.
Do you have an underappreciated creepy crawler to promote? Let us know at email@example.com.
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