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How to Attract Beneficial Wildlife to Your Garden

Lockridge is an avid reader who enjoys learning about beautiful garden plants. Among other things, she has worked with a florist.

Amphibians love eating insects!

Amphibians love eating insects!

How to Make Your Garden Hospitable

Not all the critters in your garden are pests. In fact, whether creepy-crawling or flying, many garden guests actually benefit the ecosystem of a healthy garden. Attracting beneficial insects and wildlife is simple when you remember the three basic needs of water, shelter, and food. Once their basic needs are met, the following creatures can play a helpful role in your garden:

  • Pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies
  • Predatory insects such as centipedes
  • Other wildlife predators such as birds, lizards, frogs and toads

Beneficial Insects

One of the easiest ways to determine if an insect in your yard is a pest or beneficial is to observe how quickly it moves. Generally speaking, beneficial insects move quickly, because they are predators; pests tend to move slowly and feed on plants.

Pollinating Insects

Most plants require a pollinator to transfer pollen from one part of the plant to another. And the most common pollinating insects are bees and butterflies.

Encourage pollinators to visit your garden by making the space hospitable with plants that bees and butterflies will flock to. For example, bees tend to prefer blooms that are blue, purple, white or yellow. Butterflies prefer white, pink, purple, yellow, orange or red flowers. Group plants together in large clusters so your pollinating insect can easily locate them.

Predatory Insects

Predatory insects protect plants by gobbling up the insects damaging the plant. Predatory insects include things such as centipedes (which are carnivorous), ground beetles and ladybirds. Centipedes appreciate places to hide while not feeding, so make sure to provide them with organic mulch or small piles of stones and odd stacks of logs. Keep in mind that flying insects like the ladybird may stray from your garden.

Carnivorous centipedes will eat up a lot of nasty critters.

Carnivorous centipedes will eat up a lot of nasty critters.

Wildlife Predators

Wildlife predators in your garden tend to be on a smaller scale. They include birds, lizards, toads, and frogs.


Not only are birds a type of pollinator, but they also naturally distribute seeds in the garden. Additionally, birds frequently eat insect pests in the garden themselves and feed them to their young.

Persuade birds to nest in your garden by planting dense bushes, adding a wall of ivy, planting native plants, or placing birdhouses around the yard. Don’t forget to place a birdbath in the garden, too, so birds have a place to both drink and bathe. Regularly clean and refresh the water source.

Birds are more likely to stay in your garden through the winter months if you provide them with food. Consider planting bushes and trees with nuts or berries, or installing bird feeders. Sterilize feeders regularly and ensure that the seeds are fresh.

Birds are beneficial to the garden by distributing seeds and eating insects.

Birds are beneficial to the garden by distributing seeds and eating insects.

Toads and Frogs

Not only do toads and frogs eat yucky slugs and snails, but they’ll also eat things like beetles, worms, moths, flies and mosquitoes.

Since amphibians need water to breed and thrive, make sure to provide a wildlife pond. The perfect pond will include shallow areas for easy access for amphibians and deeper areas for overwintering. Include both floating and submerged plants, as well as shaded areas near the pond where frogs can hide. Install a few stepping stones around the garden, where amphibians can soak up warmth naturally.

Some plants are poisonous to frogs. Avoid planting eggplant, rhubarb, potatoes and snow peas, among other things, which are poisonous. Include seasonal flowering plants in your garden that will attract insects throughout the year.


Although you may not want a lizard crawling around your living room, lizards in the garden help control other pests naturally.

Like frogs and toads, lizards also like to hide, and they prefer to have shady spaces. Make the garden more hospitable for lizards by planting tall grasses, installing rock gardens, and placing large logs in the garden.

Consider installing a pond or small fountain that the lizard can drink from. This will also attract insects and other wildlife. Avoid feeding lizards yourself; it’s better if they find food for themselves.

Encourage lizards with creating rock gardens or stacking lumber nearby.

Encourage lizards with creating rock gardens or stacking lumber nearby.

Helpful Resources

Backyard Buddies: Create a Lizard Friendly Garden

Discover Wildlife: How to Attract Birds to Your Garden

Good Housekeeping: 5 Ways to Attract Toads To your Garden (And Why You Totally Want To)

National Wildlife Foundation: Attracting Birds

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Diane Lockridge


Louise89 on August 05, 2019:

Thank you for the great tips!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 02, 2018:

We must be doing something right. We do have a birdbath as well as a birdhouse. Loads of anole lizards inhabit our yard as well as the Mediterranean geckos. I also hear frogs croaking especially at night. Our colorful blooming plants do attract butterflies, bees and the occasional hummingbird.