Saturday, June 26, 2010

Leave the Bugs!

I don't know how it happened, but I missed something somewhere. I've always known not to use poison in my yard. Not only does it eventually get into the water system, but whatever you spray becomes
toxic ...and when critters eat the dead things they become toxic, too. I thought the reason one didn't didn't use herbicides and pesticides was because they didn't want to poison the creatures higher up on the food chain. But...that is not the only reason!

Why I didn't figure this out when I read about farmers 'going organic' to save their health and perhaps get on the bandwagon of organic goodies for sale, who discovered they suddenly had spiders and lady-bugs on their plants? They were tickled to see that, when they quit using poison, the bugs did come back;
both good and bad bugs...just as nature intended. And there was balance; generally one insect didn't wipe out a crop, as there were other insects on hand to curtail the bad ones. The point is...they quit using poison and bugs came back. Duh!

I garden for both me and the birds. I plant for a natural habitat...a beautiful, soothing yard with shelter, water, food and nesting-sites for birds. I make puddles for frogs. I move snakes out of the way when I mow. I'm tickled to see bees. I like bats. I encourage all manner of critter to visit here.
And, I don't use poison.

But, the reason I don't use poison is because I don't want to kill the birds and other critters I enjoy. I never stopped to consider that should I use poison in such a way that the birds couldn't ingest it, they still wouldn't come! Why come if the bugs are gone? Duh!!!

Just today, I watched a Yellow Warbler foraging in the Chokecherry bush. No...the fruit is not ripe, it is hardly even getting started. But there are aphids! I noticed the other day that on several young branch-tips, leaves were curled and inside were the tiny insects...each 'herd' managed by an attending ant. Too wild...but I knew that. And I used the hose to mitigate some of the potential damage...getting soaked while doing so.

But it wasn't until I watched the warbler that I realized I'd just cleaned off much of the bird's meal! I flushed away the very natural thing that was attracting a non-seed eating bird to visit my yard. Sheeshhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... Ya know, the bushes had a few branch-tips with curled leaves last year...but the plant was not stressed and it did just fine; lots of berries were had by many, many birds.

I often turn captured spiders out of my house...not just to save the spider, but also because it might make a meal for a bird. When I catch a mouse in a kill-trap (they tried to nest in my linen closet), I offer up the perfectly safe meal to the magpies who come to my yard; they swallow 'em in a single gulp! When my pond is finally built, I'll add some fish for color and my delight...but not Koi this time. Nope, I don't want to feel slighted when a bear or a raccoon or a snake make a meal of an expensive fish.

I'm building the pond for my pleasure...and to attract birds. Should I manage to entice a local kingfisher or perhaps a heron over for dinner, I want to know that I'm observing the natural order of things...even if I did create the little puddle. Oh sure, I'll create hiding places for the fish with rocks and plants, this won't be like bobbing for apples in a barrel. I offer seed to birds too, and plants that provide fruit...but I don't begrudge the hawk who hunts here, either.

I don't know why I never followed this logic to this point. Who knew removing insects removed one of the reasons birds come to the yard at all? I offer plants with berries, seeds in feeders, suet, nuts, nectar, assorted leftovers, the occasional mouse and soon fish, too; but, I never considered the bugs in the trees and worms in the grass were dinner to a whole 'nuther batch of birds.
Who knew?

The lovely Yellow Warbler photograph is by P. Nelder, whose work you can see here. The other shots are from Wikipedia.


Piecefulafternoon said...

Excellent post!!! I love it when someone makes others aware of non toxic gardening! Thank you.

Beverly said...

Thank you so much. I talk about such things as often as I can.

Perhaps I should mention that, even though the pond is not yet built...I have both butterflies and dragonflies in large numbers. I love it!

Thank you for your kind comments,

sebi_2569 said...

nice photo; and nice blog congratulations