Holly Hovis

Micro-wildlife in the Native Garden

Rarely do you hear “yay, I have wildlife invading in my garden!”. No one wants deer snacking on their tulips or birds taste-testing all the cherries. But what about in a native garden and how about all the beneficial, often adorable, and usually ignored, micro-wildlife?

I’m talking about praying mantis tilting their heads up at you, bumble bees droning overhead, and western toads rustling around in the leaves. Researchers have found that the more native plants in a setting, the greater the abundance and diversity of native insects. More native insects translates to more of those cool birds coming to your yard to feed. That’s because almost 80% of birds are insectivorous. And you may be lucky enough to host new families of birds as they nest and rear young. Add a nesting box and you could have owlets out your window. Or kestrels. Or chickadees!

This all equates to a fair amount of drama if you are willing to watch. Insect behavior in particular is fascinating. Predator/Prey activities along the lines of a female lion taking down a screaming wildebeest are mimicked by a dragonfly swooping down on an unsuspecting moth. Or camouflaged flower spiders waiting for a lazy fly to land. For the more tenderhearted, there is nothing more amusing than watching bees navigating flowers, crawling upside down into the tubes of penstemon flowers, or scrambling around the perimeter of a globemallow to collect pollen. Or maybe watching hummingbird moths visit the flowers of your evening primrose as the flowers open and fill the evening air with their perfume.

I know, it’s a lot. There’s a tiny jungle of micro-wildlife just waiting for your invitation!

Holly Hovis

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