Butterflies, aphids, slugs: between the gardener and the garden guests, it’s love – hate

The reactions of the gardener when confronted with nature are variable. The nocturnal disappearance of a row of young lettuce or a newly acquired little treasure is annoying. There follows the desire to master this frankly annoying nature as well as the desire to “sanitize” the place. A common way to solve the problem and, in the process, to wring the necks of many of its occupants whether they are a threat or not. Added to the table, visceral fears linked to certain insects.

Nevertheless, it is indisputable that the desire for a garden in which nature and inhabitants live in harmony does indeed exist and that it continues to grow.

Let us say it, the matter is complex and requires patience. The path is probably through understanding and observing the interactions that take place there. Whatever it is, the garden is the perfect place to take a close look at the plant life and the fauna that are interested in it. Guests passing through or residents, there is a host of small animals to welcome, admire and protect.

Everyone’s garden

A healthy garden is full of vitality and attracts many visitors. There are the regulars, those who no longer need to be introduced, the ladybug, the chickadee, the toad etc. Others have become rarer as well as some butterflies.

Fauna and flora live in close symbiosis. The survival of one depends on the survival of the other. Insects are the basis of many cycles in nature. Host plants provide food and shelter for a host of small animals which, in turn, perform other tasks including pollination. Wild bees excel in the function. Carpenters, masons, leaf cutters, they are very diverse.

Maintaining communities of wild bees and diverse pollinators is essential to the health of the garden in general. This requires the provision of specific habitats and a wide range of floral species in good quantity. The less cautious appear from the end of February and need early flowering (Salix, Lonicera fragrantissima, Cornus mas). Well-thought-out gardens provide them with this invaluable help.

(Slug laying)

Amazing spiders

(Butterfly struggling with crab spider)

It is not only insects that trigger a certain suspicion. When it comes to phobia, spiders occupy a special place. And yet, they are part of this chain of interactions. They eat lots of flies and mosquitoes. Some weave magnificent webs where preys are trapped. That of the épeire, probably the best known, is mainly made to capture flying insects. Some are hidden at the bottom of a tunnel surrounded by a network of warning wires. The tégénaire manufactures a flat canvas in the form of a shelf or a hammock, capable of capturing ruffles and crawlers. While still others do not make canvas. They move on vegetation to grab prey in their environment. One of them can be seen on the flowers. The crab spider, Thomise variable, hunts on the lookout, motionless on the inflorescences, it captures visiting insects by paralyzing them.

Friends of the earth

A Friends of the Earth publication www.amisdelaterre.be can be consulted freely: Insects, monsters or benefactors?


Explanations and advice make it easier to understand and welcome them. Thus, during pruning, the marrow stems are collected to make hymenoptera shelters. They dig their nests there to the size that suits them. Prefabricated birdhouses do not always offer the right caliber. The most prized marrow plants are the bramble, the rosebush, the elderberry, the raspberry, the charcoal and the butterfly bush. Cut pieces about thirty centimeters long. Gather around 20 and tie them together into a small bundle. Hang them fifty centimeters high.

(Carabe) (Trichie fascie)

Two pounds

Playful and poetic nature notebooks. Stéphane Hette, Marcello Pettineo. Editions Plume de carrotte October 2020. ISBN 978-2-36672-233-8

Pages filled with nature as we can discover it at our feet and under our windows. A book where science and wonder come together, where the interdependence between plants and animals is nicely illustrated and made available to all. An approach that dismantles fears and fears and can only arouse the vocation of naturalists.

The jungle garden. Dave Goulson. Editions du Rouergue 2021. ISBN 978-2-8126-1962-5

Dave Goulson teaches biology at the University of Sussex. In this new book, he deals with the fauna that lives before our eyes, celebrating the little creatures that inhabit our gardens. Through these fascinating pages, he gives the reader the keys to increasing the capacity of the gardens so that fauna, flora and people coexist in an adequate way rather than in conflict. The pages on the orchard explain, among other things, why it is imperative to preserve solitary bees if one wishes to have beautiful fruit without treatment, and why certain varieties are more resistant than others. A reading that reveals great unknowns such as moths and from which we come out fiercely opposed to any chemical cocktail.

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