Creepy critters are a garden’s best friend

As winter melts away and we turn to warmer days, many start to plant gardens. However, many also start to plan and assault our creepy critter friends. From garter snakes to wolf spiders, these lil guys are some of our closest friends when it comes to gardening, so no matter how tempting it is, if you want a lush healthy garden, make sure to not only leave these guys alone, but try to lure ’em in, and here’s why. 


If you are a part of the 50 percent of the population that has anxiety around snakes, you shouldn’t be gardening. Snakes are nature’s pest control and are amazing little guys. 

For example, if you have a problem with slugs eating your squash, garter snakes will handle it happily. Have a problem with gophers digging up your flower bed? Corn snakes will solve that in seconds. 

If you’re lucky enough to have a smooth green snake visit, they are one of the few completely insectivorous snakes and will have a belly full of pesky grasshoppers, caterpillars and even some spiders. 

These will all help you keep your garden nice and fresh with little to no bite marks in your prize pumpkins, and they aren’t the only ones.


Yes, our little goth friends can help your garden even during the night. Plenty of bugs are nocturnal and like to attack your garden while our snake friends sleep, and that’s where the lovely bats come in. 

On top of eating all those nasty little critters, bats also are pollinators. When a brown bat or one of the other species here in Iowa swoops down to catch a mouth full of mosquitos, it can also pick up loose pollen with its fur just like a bee and sprinkle it as it flutters off. This means these little guys are not only pest control but also helpful pollinators. 

However, just because some bugs are bad and need to be eaten up by bats and snakes doesn’t mean all of them deserve to. 


While for the most part, we all find these little creepies undesirable, some of them are our gardens friends. For example, pollinators. 

Ants, butterflies, bees, beetles, flies, moths and wasps are all great little pollinators that help our garden thrive. They spread the pollen of wild flowers and help rejuvenate the ecosystem, which in turn makes a better environment for your plants. 

And it’s not just pollinators we need to thank. 

For example, dung beetles are one of the factors that keep Iowa soil so fertile. And ladybugs eat harmful aphids that chew up leaves and stems, not to mention spiders such as the wolf spider who eagerly devours tons of harmful species. 

All the species and ones like them mentioned here are our friends. They provide natural pesticide and even control each other’s existence making sure no one place is overrun with one species. 

Nature is amazing, and when we allow it to take its course, the rewards are far greater, so this spring, build a bat box, encourage snakes by avoiding plants that harm them and overall avoid using pesticides; nature has plenty of her own. Happy gardening.

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