Attracting the Right Critters to Your Backyard

Welcoming some critters to your outdoor spaces is natural and healthy. But which insects and animals are best to attract, and which should you deter? We asked local conservationist Siw Shauni Hauger for advice.

By Haley Phillips

Mar 2020

Monarch butterfly
Photo courtesy ShutterstockAttract pollinators such as butterflies and bees by planting native plants.

Everyone knows the common grub is a backyard nuisance, but what about the other critters who wreak havoc in our well maintained flowerbeds and gardens? Are they truly menaces or just misunderstood? We spoke to Siw Shauni Hauger, a local conservationist, to help us know the difference and give us tips on how we can attract helpful garden guests to our backyards.

Tip 1 | In a well balanced yard, you should rarely need to use herbicides and pesticides. However, if necessary, use varieties recommended for organic growers. Hauger recommends treating your yard with an insect killer like Spectracide Triazicide to kill unwanted insects while maintaining the natural ecosystem of your backyard.

Tip 2 | Many homeowners get frustrated by insects in their backyard, but oftentimes we need their help to keep our soil aerated and our flowers pollinated. To keep unwanted pests at bay, try using natural remedies. Mix together a solution of neem oil and water to treat the cruciferous vegetables that aphids and beetles love to prey on.

Tip 3 | Plant a mix of hardy natives, bulbs and pretty annuals to give your flowerbeds year-long interest and to attract valuable insects like bees and bumblebees. Native plants are not only great for the native insects, pollinators and other critters, but also, they are generally low maintenance because they’re in their natural environment.

Tip 4 |
 Although it might seem unorthodox, try not to keep an overly maintained lawn. Modern lawns are basically sterile areas for most insects and animals, Hauger warns, acting as food for only root-eating grubs. In her own yard, Hauger maintains a collection of native plants like clover and different varieties of violets.

Tip 5 | One of the greatest defenses against pests is other animals. Attracting birds, bats and frogs helps keep down the population of beetles, caterpillars, grubs and mosquitoes in your backyard. Hauger suggests installing a bird feeder to keep birds coming to your yard and chowing down on pesky insects while visiting.

Tip 6 | The most important thing to have in your yard is an area where you don’t do much. Even a small corner of unkempt landscaping can provide a haven for important pollinators. By welcoming the good insects and animals into your backyard environment, you’ll have less work in keeping away the true pests.

Peaceful Outdoor Spaces

Garden Scroll

Check out these local backyards for inspiration for your own gardens and outdoor entertaining areas.