Friends In The Garden: Inviting Animals & Insects

Friends in my Baltimore city garden.

Friends In My Baltimore City Garden.

If you want to live and thrive, let the spider run alive.
–Old proverb

Insects, birds, and even reptiles are not only beneficial in garden production but they also bring color, movement and added interest to your garden.  4,6,8  legged, winged and even legless creatures are vital in pollinating your plants, controlling overpopulation, and create a source of entertainment for the gardener and visitors.

Young Mantis On My Coneflower

My Young Mantis

A brood of praying mantis hatched recently in my yard in Baltimore city and it is very cool to see them clamber around the garden and grow (at about an inch a week!).  Praying Mantis are particularly beneficial because they are carnivorous and feed on other insects that can be detrimental to plants.   Like the praying mantis, spiders and ladybugs are also desirable because they help to keep other unrewarding bugs in check.

Insects and animals will instinctively be attracted to your urban garden.  However, a mixture of plants with a variety of color, textures and sizes along with a well executed plan, ensuring there is consistently something blooming from spring to fall, will increase the arrival and diversity of visitors to your garden.  Native plants are a great place to start.  For a list of Maryland natives including sizes and bloom times, CLICK HERE.   Naturally occurring Maryland plants may be the obvious choice to attract our area fauna, but by paying special attention to color and shape, you can attract the largest amount of visitors to even the smallest of spaces.

Bee On Asclepias In My City Garden

Asclepias In My Garden

Red and orange plants are strong attractors of bees, butterflies and birds.  The genus Asclepias (pictured), for example, of which there are many varieties, is not only the host plant of the Monarch butterfly, but is the beloved food of many others (I’ve gotten the butterflies to come, but really am giddy for the first rainbow striped bald caterpillar to show up and chow down). Flowers with deep throats are also powerful lures and are particularly inviting to hummingbirds. You definitely don’t have to purchase a feeder to have hummingbirds in your garden; a bright Monarda will also do the trick.  Plants with leaves that hold water are also enticing and varieties such as Silphium Perfoliatum will keep your visitors well hydrated.  Concerned about inviting too many insects to your garden? –Don’t be.  Once your bug to plant ratio starts to tip, the city spiders, snakes and bats will come by and thin out your insect population. It’s all pretty exciting to watch unfold (especially for nerds like me) -just remember it’s all a balance that existed well before we showed up, so don’t be over controlling and simply let nature do it’s thing.


Baltimore City Hummingbird Feeding On My Monarda


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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love garden art and the way you show them! gardening is one of my biggest passions

  2. Very informative post! The only bugs that visit my 10th floor balcony garden are bees and ladybugs — and the occasional lone butterfly. Cheers!

  3. It’s interesting that I’ve just had (what I believe to be) two mantis hanging upside down from the bottom of a leaf of one of my sun flower plants I plant in a pot in my balcony in Cairo, Egypt! It’s nice to know that praying mantis have showed up at your place at a similar timing despite great difference in location.

    It’s interesting to know about how colors can attract various insects. I believe also that various odors and ultraviolet ‘color(s)’ attract bees and other insects. Those creatures just have senses that go way beyond the human ability to sense. Some would say evolution, I would say God’s creations.

  4. I had great fun writing about and taking pictures of the critters in my garden. Since the post, I have had even more many legged and winged visitors and am sure to submit a follow up post in the future. Thanks for the compliments.

    Also, I just joined Welcome, to my fellow gardeners around the globe!

  5. […] you like the idea of having bees around, but you aren’t ready to be a beekeeper?  CLICK HERE to learn from our pal, Joel The Urban Gardener, how to invite bees and other critters to your […]

  6. Hi there would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using?

    I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but I’m
    having a tough time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution
    and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design
    and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.

    P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  7. Hello, I am looking to visit an apiary this weekend (Sat) in Baltimore. Do you have any suggestions I will be in a group of 10 people.

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