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Can snakes and toads be helpful to your garden?

You know the snakes and toads that inhabit your garden? Well, instead of trying to drive them away you should be encouraging them! They are the best and most natural line of defense you have for your garden!  In fact, having snakes and toads in your garden will reduce the amounts of foliage eating bugs and pesticides you need!

Your Garden’s Snakes

Ok, it may be a little bit freaky to see these snakes slithering along, but they are actually good for you garden. Garter snakes are very common in backyards. You can identify them by the three yellow stripes they sport along their backs. You can find them most often between rows of vegetables where they like to soak up the sun’s rays. They eat the slugs, caterpillars, sowbugs and other pests that haunt your garden, so they’re a good thing! In fact, if you enjoy growing tubers then you should herald the appearance of larger garter snakes that are around 3  feet in length in your garden. They eat meadow voles, which like to decimate your tubular crops!

Have No Fear

If you see a snake in your garden, do not fret! The most common snakes are also the most docile. There’s the green snake, which enjoys feasting on the insects, grasshoppers, hornworms and caterpillars that often like to make a meal out of the things you like to grow. There’s also the ring-necked snake that you can identify by its golden collar. It likes to hunt at night and grab some of the bugs that tend to wreak havoc during that time.

Attract snakes to your garden by providing a welcoming space. You can provide loose rock piles, old tree stumps, brush piles, boards or stacks of wood to make the feel right at home. And if you happen to see a milk snake, which often gets confused with a copperhead, try to make it feel welcome as well. They like to eat the mice, voles and other small animals that like to munch on what you have growing.

Don’t forget too that pesticides can have a negative impact on reptiles and amphibians, so it’s best to not use them in your garden!

Toads

Toads in your garden are an excellent sign. This is because the common garden toads eats 50 to 100 insects every night. They love to munch on slugs, earwigs, Japanese beetles, cutworms, grasshoppers, sow bugs, snails, cucumber beetles, grubs and tent caterpillars. In fact, about 80 percent of their diet is comprised of pests that are harmful to your garden, so you really want to roll out the welcome mat for these guys!

If you want to make your garden a toad friendly environment it really doesn’t take a lot. They love to hide under mulch or under the cover of your garden plants. They are most active in the evening once the heat of the day is over and if they really like the environment you’ve set up for them then they will stay for a year or more.

If you want to build a little house for your garden toad, they’re really not all that picky. All you need is a terra cotta post upside down in a shady area and voila! Instant toad house! If you’re really serious about inviting toads to your garden then dig a tunnel about three inches wide and deep under the pot. That way the toads can sneak around under the rim of the pot.

If you really want to go all out for your toad then build them a little pond. Since they are drawn to water all you really need is to set a birdbath into the ground or dig a small hole in the partial shade that can be filled with water. Line the toad hole you dig with plastic and make sure it has a gentle slope in order to help it get in and out. If you put gravel at one end that will help encourage dragonflies to lay their eggs, which has pest busting benefits as well.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to welcome snakes and toads into your garden?

 

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