Tips For Attracting Animals To Small Urban Yards

I’ll try! Thank you

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Well, unfortunately, and fortunately in this case, frogs don’t live around my street, but a few minutes away in the local woods.

Summer is almost over and I’m reviewing observations from my garden. Moral of the story (for North America) is to plant sunflowers!

https://www.inaturalist.org/journal/egordon88/56388-in-appreciation-of-sunflowers

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I’m on a 1/4 acre suburban lot surrounded by roads and have managed to attract a decent amount of wildlife. Although, it’s mostly things that can fly in! I still haven’t seen any reptiles at all, and only the very infrequent toad or frog. I don’t use pesticides, have multiple water sources, and a good variety of largely native plants. I also try not to be too tidy with gardening which preserves habitat. I have compost bins, brush piles, messy thickets, and a “lawn” of whatever grows and tolerates mowing. When I do cut back plants I usually break down the cuttings and leave them in place as mulch unless it’s something with tons of ripe seed that is aggressive and will take over an area.

Unfortunately, the very nature of living in the city or suburbs means your neighbors’ actions can greatly impact your efforts. During the housing bust when the three houses that surround mine were all vacant for many months I saw the best wildlife. Now I look out my window and frequently see vans for the lawn herbicide companies and exterminators. I overheard one neighbor exclaim how they had to call an exterminator because there was a spider in the house!

I did some blacklight mothing in the yard in early June and saw so much variety. I expected it to get better in mid-summer when the real heat kicked in. Unfortunately, the variety actually dropped by a lot. Some nights all I saw was a ton of mosquitoes. It was disturbing. One day I saw a “mosquito control” helicopter go over my house several times and wondered if they had sprayed the area with pesticides, killing off my night-time visitors.

Last week I noticed one of my neighbors has a Dynatrap on the side of their house not far from where I blacklight moth, which could also be a cause for the decline. It looks like they have it turned on all the time. I don’t know how these things are even legal. They’re non-selective and not even effective at controlling mosquitoes. I know because I’m currently scratching all the mosquito bites I’ve gotten in the past few weeks! Mosquito populations can rebound quickly, while most of the other species killed cannot. The advertising on the Dynatrap site says:

ATTRACTS AND KILLS MOSQUITOES, FLIES AND MORE!
…EXCEPT HONEY BEES.

As if honey bees are only insects worth sparing!

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Wow, what an unappealing selling tactic they have, first time I read something as stupid as this is:
image

And here I’m excited about having a yellow jacket nest in the wood pile in my backyard. I’ve been watching them going in and out, trying to get some decent pictures for ID. I guess iNaturalist will do that to you… I’m looking forward to taking that pile apart in the dead of winter to see what they built inside.

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Your first point is very valid, you can never underestimate a neighbour’s malevolence and neuroticism, so it’s best to take that in consideration. If there’s the possibility that they might give you trouble, it’s better to set up a birdbath instead.
As for the second point, I disagree. A pond only becomes more balanced and finely attuned as time passes. Once the hydrophytes become well enstablished all nutrients from organic waste in the water will be quickly absorbed, and oxygen will abound. Essential fauna will colonize the pond autonomously.
The only real precautions should be taken before and during construction; it’s important to dig the pond in an appropriate position and with quality materials. Never dig a pond near a tree with vigorous roots for example, and never let conifer needles fall in the water.
Ramps and shallow areas are part of the initial planning too, and they are indeed very important.
Mine has plenty too, but insects that fall in the water rarely manage to reach them before they’re grabbed by a backswimmer.

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Huh! Is it too cold for lizards to over-winter? Not enough insects for food during cold seasons? Here, lizards like sheltering rocks or voids under paving, insects, and sunny spots to warm up after a cool night.

@abrub This topic makes me wonder how things are going with the pond you built last year? I enjoyed reading the progress of your project.

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We have 5 species of reptiles in the region, 2 common ones and 3 more sporadically found. Probably havingviviparous lizards near country houses is more of a luck thing, they’re attracted by logs, but I haven’t seen them anywhere near where we have our house, while I see observations not that far away that would count as yard lizards: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/56302557.
They don’t eat in winter because they all hibernate, of cause it’s not -30C every year with current warming climate, but still anything less than 0 is too cold for reptiles to digest properly and of course there’re no insects in peak winter months.

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I agree with everything you wrote.
My caveat re point 2 concerns the assumption that digging a depression in the soil and putting into that depression a recycled kid pool, filling it up with water and perhaps planting something around it will do.
A pond needs careful consideration and planning.

Hi teellbee! I’ve had another person tell me I should make a diary or project about it, but I always forget and when I do remember I keep thinking no one would actually read it so why bother haha. I do keep track of it with dated pictures tho.
Right now spring has just started here so im starting to see more activity. Las weekend I visited and there were a few frogs that jumped into the water as soon as I approached (probably Leptodactylus sp.) so I expect to see tadpoles soon enough. Besides that I have a few killifish (Austrolebias bellotti) that I added last summer, with the bigger male being around max size for the species and a second posible male I found being around 3cm (there’s at least one or two females as well). I need to wait a few more months to see if the pond is the right environment for them to reproduce but I am hoping it will be. There’s also lots of Dysticidae and Dryopidae beetles, as well as many variated spiders. I was also able to see some odonate nymphs but no molt leftovers, so I cannot be sure they completed their cycle.

Also I added a big hollow log on one side and im looking to purchase some different native plants and trees to add around it. The percentage of transplanted vegetation that survive is not as high as I wish it was tho, so im always afraid when I add a new one to the pond haha!

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Thank you for the news! It sounds like your pond is progressing nicely and attracting some interesting wildlife. Plus, perhaps, and important source of water for a variety of creatures who may visit, but do not live in the pond. Great project!

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  1. Add Native Grasses to Your Landscaping.
  2. Add Evergreen Trees to Your Landscaping
  3. Add Plants that Provide Food
  4. Plant Plenty of Flowers.
  5. Plant for every season of the year
  6. Create a Compost Pile
  7. Add Bird Feeders
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Cobras are very closely related to most aussie snakes, they are in the same family (elapidae) And many of the local wrigglers look very similar when unhappy…
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/81987236 (Short-nosed snake)
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/37415087(Tiger snake)
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/94551487(Red bellied black snake)
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/18055588(Mulga snake)

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I know.)