I live on a large city lot that includes a wetland and a small woodland. I don't know about you but I prefer walking in my yard and enjoying looking at all of the plants and animals that I share my place with, to working in my yard.
It's not that I'm lazy. It's more a matter of having a holistic view, where all the elements of nature can work together. I'd rather welcome natural predators, for instance, than swat mosquitos in the summer.
I make my yard frog, dragonfly and spider friendly by not using pesticides and by respecting the spaces that these helpful creatures inhabit. I even talk to them. In the spring, when the Pacific chorus frogs sing, I verbally thank them as well as sending out welcoming vibes and being careful not to disturb them when they find a comfy spot in my garden.
Spiders, too, are given a warm welcome. In the Pacific Northwest, we only have the occasional hobo spider or black widow to be wary of. Most of the spiders in my yard are orb, jumping, harvestmen and wolf spiders that are harmless to humans but deadly to flies, gnats, mosquitos and other destructive insects.
When an orb spider chooses to build a nest across a pathway, I gently disengage one or two of the supports and as I politely explain to Mother spider why I am moving her web, I fold it against the opposite side. Sometimes I need to do this two or three times before the spider decides to choose a different anchoring point, but patience always pays off.
I know it's truly summer when I see the first dragonfly. We have several varieties on our property: red and blue damselfiles, red, green and blue saddlebags, named for the black spots near the base of their wings, skimmers, emeralds, blues and the occasional gold. Dragonflies do double-duty when it comes to natural balance by eating mosquito and other larvae in their nymph stage and by literally catching their insect food in mid-air when adults.
We're on friendly terms with dragonflies. Liek the frogs, I'm so glad to see them each year that i verbally welcome them. If I'm patient enough, the big emeralds, blues or saddlebags will sometimes land on my hand. The photo shows a reddish dragonfly on my son's hand.
Another garden friend that I didn't mention in my title is the cranefly. Many people don't like craneflies because they can cause some damage to the lawn. Our lawn, being chemical-free, grows a variety of plants so we don't notice any damage. The cranefly's main diet is mosquitos, so as far as I'm concerned, this helpful insect is welcome.
Craneflies often manage to get into the house, where they are cut off from their food supply. The biggest challenge I have when this happens is getting them outside without harming them. The easiest way is to hold my hand underneath them and when they land, as they often do, gently cupping my other hand over the tiny creature and releasing it outside.
Welcoming these and other helpful creatures keeps our yard in balance and gives me a sense of community that surpasses human contact.