Real Gardeners

Built by real gardeners for real gardeners

Wildlife Friends

Apart from the enjoyment of finding wildlife in our garden it can also help us provide a balanced environment as some of them are natural predators to the creatures that attack our plants.

This section is devoted to recognising and encouraging these helpful creatures.

We've done a lot of work to make the information here as accurate as we can, but if you find anything wrong or missing, please contact us.

Click on any picture to see it full size.

Name Usefulness

How to encourage

Bats are active from Spring to Autumn, feeding on midges, craneflies, moths and aphids in the evening.

At these times of the year they roost in warm, dry hollows in trees and in crevices in buildings. They hibernate during winter.

Encourage bats by having plants that release nectar in the evening such as Evening Primrose Oenothera spp, or build a bat box from plywood. 

It needs an entrance slot in the bottom with grooves in the back to make access easier. Place in a sheltered position that provides morning sun and afternoon shade.

Beetle larvae Beetle larvae of various species are ferocious hunters and eat several types of garden pest Create a log pile in your garden.

Illustrated right is ladybird larvae.

Blue Tit
Cyanistes caeruleus
During winter tits search for food, including aphid eggs that are found in and under bark.

In the summer they eat caterpillars and aphids.

Hang fat or bacon on a string near roses or soft fruit bushes through the winter. 

Provide water for drinking and bathing.

Trees, shrubs and climbing plants provide shelter and nest sites, boosted by artificial nest boxes with a 25mm opening hole.

Bumble bee
Bumble bees pollinate flowers which is essential for fertilising seeds.  

They also function better than other insects when it is cold.

Build a bumblebee box.  This needs two compartments, one for the queen with wood shavings in it and the other one for the other bees.

Site it in a sheltered spot, south facing, but out of direct sunlight.

Burying beetle
Nicrophorus vespillo
Also known as the Sexton Beetle, these insects bury corpses of small birds and mammals.

The grubs feed on the decaying meat and also fly maggots.

Centipede Centipedes have pair of poison claws behind the head and use the poison to paralyze their prey.

They usually feed on slugs, snails and vine weevils. 

Centipedes live in good quality soil and under stones and logs. 

Leave an old log in a damp shady spot and they will soon colonise.

Comma butterfly
Polygonum c-album


It feeds on dandelions and thistle in the early part of the year, moving on to rotting fruit in late summer. 

The ragged edges to its wings provide it with camouflage whilst hibernating in dead leaves.

Enallagma cyathigerum
Damselflies eat small insects such as winged aphids and mosquitoes Damselflies need unpolluted water and shelter from wind and rain in order to survive.
Devil's coach horse beetle
Staphylinus olens
Preditory beetle. Eats woodlice but also worms
Dragonfly catch insects like midges, mosquitoes and flies on the wing. 

They can also catch and eat butterflies.

In order to attract dragonflies you will need a garden pond with unpolluted water and some shelter from wind and rain.

Worms will drag vegetable matter like leaves underground which then provide nutrients for the plants.

Worms love good quality soil, preferably not too acidic.  

Add fish, blood & bone or hoof & horn to the soil as well as well rotted compost. 

Earwig Earwigs are active all year round. Although they damage flowers, they do feed on caterpillars, aphids, insects and moth eggs. They can be found resting during the day in narrow crevices.
Frog Frogs will eat slugs, snails, worms and insects.

Frogs, toads & newts spawn in the spring but hibernate through the coldest months.

A pond with shallow edges will encourage them to breed. 

Adults hibernate in damp, places under stones and logs, so it is good to have some near the pond. 

Great Tit These lovely birds do not confine themselves to eating only the pests in our garden, but they come into their own during the breeding season when they prefer to feed their young on protein-rich caterpillars when it is said they can reduce the damage by up to 50%. Encourage them to breed in your garden by providing a small nesting box with an opening hole of 28mm.
Green Tiger Beetle Cicindela campestris These guys love ants, grasshoppers and other pests that chew your plants.

The larvae live in a burrow.

Ground Beetle

These beetles will eat slugs, vine weevil, small caterpillars and grubs.

They are active all year and will also get through slug eggs, and the larvae of carrot root fly

Plants that attract ground beetles include Amaranthus.

If you leave a damp log pile undisturbed, the ground beetles will soon populate it.

German wasp
Vespa germanica
German wasps eat caterpillars but most people will put wasps in the pest category.

The German, or European wasp can be recognised by the three tiny black dots on its' face.

Hedgehog Hedgehogs are active from mid-spring to mid-autumn during the night, and feed on slugs, millipedes, cockchafers, earthworms and caterpillars.


Hedgehogs nest under sheds or among piles of wood and leaves. You can make a hedgehog box and place it in a quiet corner of the garden.  Fill part of it with dried leaves and make sure there is a breathing vent.  Cover it with soil and do not disturb.

They enjoy cat or dog food, bacon rinds, berries, nuts, fruits, cereals and honey. Always make sure there is water available for them.

Honey Bee Apis Mellifera Honey bees pollinate flowers which is essential to fertilize the seeds. Use organic gardening methods. Pesticides will kill the good guys as much as the bad guys.

Plant swathes of flowers through your garden and organise your garden to have flowers in bloom for as long as possible.

Hoverfly They look like wasps, with their yellow and black markings, and often feed on nectar and pollen.  

Both adults and larvae will eat huge amounts of aphids, mealybugs and others

Plants that attract hoverflies include: 
Limnanthes douglasii (poached egg plant)
Convolvulus minor
Cosmos bipinnatus
Daucus carota
(Queen Anne's lace)
Iberis umbellata
Limonium latifolium
(Statice), Petroselinum crispum (parsley)
Chrysoperla carnea
Lacewings can consume a vast number of aphids (over 300 each), mites, and soft-bodied insects such as caterpillars.

You can build a lacewing box to help increase survive rates.  

To do this take a small wooden box, open on one side, and cut bamboo canes and stack, end on, into the box.  Site it facing east.

Ladybird Coccinella septempunctata In the spring, ladybirds lay eggs next to lots of greenflies. The eggs hatch in a week and the babies start eating both green and black aphids. 

Ladybirds live for about a year and can eat up to 5,000 aphids in their lifetime.

Plants that attract ladybirds include:
Achillea filipendulina
Anethum graveolens (dill)
Convolvulus minor
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)
Foeniculum vulgare (fennel)
Tanacetum vulgare (tansy)

You can build a ladybird house by drilling various size holes into the side of a log and standing it on edge in your garden.

Leopard slug
Limax maximus
The Leopard slug will help in the compost heap and also eats other slugs. Regrettably the leopard slug enjoys the same conditions as other slugs and snails.

Just be careful when disposing of slugs that you allow your leopard slug to remain.

Nematode worm Nematode There are two categories of nematode: predatory ones, which will kill garden pests, and pest nematodes. Nematodes nowadays are bred for the organic gardener to purchase and destroy specific garden pests.
Parasitic wasp Parasitic wasps can devour Whiteflies; moth, beetle and fly larvae

Certain types of plants have compounds that work in part with the saliva of caterpillars. When the saliva of the caterpillar and the juices of the plant mix, a fragrance is emitted that certain parasitoid wasps are very attracted to.

The parasitic wasps then kill the caterpillars and often use the carcasses to lay eggs within

Plants that attract parasitic wasps include:
Cosmos bipinnatus 
Limonium latifolium (Statice),
Melissa officinalis (lemon balm),
Petroselinum crispum (parsley)


Red Mason bee
Osmia rufa
Mason bees are encouraged where early pollination is required such as with spring fruit flowers. They generally live a solitary life in holes, and can be encouraged by drilling holes in a piece of wood.
Erithacus rubecula
Robins eat insects, flying ants and aphids When the robin is short of natural food he has a sweet tooth and often takes cake and uncooked pastry
Slow worm Anguis fragilis Slow worms are legless lizards. They are sometimes mistaken for adders, but are completely harmless.

They eat slugs, snails and worms.

A corner with somewhere for these creatures to hide is important.  A piece of carpet, some rocks, even a bit of black plastic can encourage them to stay.  

Some loose, well drained soil will allow them to burrow for hibernation.

Song Trush
Turdus philomelos
These delightful birds feed on slugs and snails as well as fruit and berries.

You will often catch them breaking the shell of a snail on a convenient stone.

Put fruit and grated cheese on your bird table to attract them.

Also try planting cotoneaster and crab apple.

Stag beetle Lucanus cervus Although not strictly a garden friend, these creatures do no harm to your garden.

The larva feed for several years in old tree trunks & decaying stumps, so you could call them your personal stump grinder!

Mainly found in and around old trees.
Bufo bufo
Toads eat plant munching insects, slugs and small snails Toads need a pond.

If you stack some logs nearby in a shady area they will be happy.

Violet ground beetle carabus violaceus The adult beetles feed on slugs, snails, woodlice, centipedes, millipedes, worms & insects.  

The larvae which is also an active hunter can take up to 10 months before they pupate in the soil to emerge as adults which can live up to 9 months.

Give them a place to hide during the day under leaves, stones and logs and somewhere dry and warm to hibernate during the winter.
Troglodytes troglodytes
Although less common than some of our other birds, the wren flits through trees and bushes gathering insects. When insects are in short supply wrens enjoy peanut butter, chopped apples, suet and breadcrumbs.

Leave twigs, grass and leaves around in your garden to help them with nesting material.