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Avoiding Ecological Traps: Maximizing Wildlife Value, Part 5

Another tip for maximizing the wildlife you attract when planting native is avoiding ecological traps - these are areas that attract or trap wildlife, causing its demise.


More than 350 bird species travel through Ohio twice yearly along the Mississippi flyway that connects migrating birds to their breeding grounds in North America and their southern overwintering grounds. Because natural habitats are now fractured, resting places that provide food, water and shelter are increasingly critical. If an exhausted migrating bird lands in an area that lacks these critical resources, their journey may end there. Clean water, food and shelter from prevailing weather and predators could make all the difference! If you’re doing a good job with your plantings, the plants will provide the food! If your plantings haven’t matured enough to provide food, or yours is the only habitat around, consider putting feeders out, particularly during spring and fall migration.


Another hazard for both local and migrating birds is window strikes. Every year in the US, HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of birds die from these collisions. More than half of bird strikes are fatal…many birds fly off to die elsewhere. What you can do to address this is break up the reflection that makes your window look like plants and sky. Windows with internal grids will do this, or you can add decals to the exterior of the windows. I’ll add a link in the comments to the ones we're using successfully here.


Window wells are known to trap baby animals because they’re deep and often impossible for these little critters to escape. Adding a few branches at an angle, or a stair step of bricks or rocks can provide a way out. You can also cover with hardware cloth to keep them from falling in.


No one knows why moths are drawn to lights, but we do know they will exhaust themselves banging against the light, diminishing their energy for feeding and reproduction. Changing to a motion-activated light would be the best option to completely eliminate light pollution, but you can also switch to a yellow compact fluorescent (CFL) that’s energy efficient since it doesn’t emit heat.


Bug zappers attract a wide array of insects, then slowly dehydrate them to death. An article published in Entomological News found that only 31 out of 13,789 insects trapped in an urban setting by bug zappers over the course of an entire summer were ones that bite. Insects are a critical juncture between plants and most wild critters we enjoy seeing.


Instead of "zapping" insects that are a critical and diminishing food source, think of ways you can co-exist with bugs and still enjoy your back yard. At the nursery, we use a 12x12 screen house during the buggy times of the year, and natural repellants can be found that actually work There is a wide array of bug sprays that work well to repel biting insects. Here at Leaves for Wildlife, we use Mercola's 8 ounce bug spray. It smells nice and really works!


Lastly, native plants that are sprayed with pesticides are more common than you might think. Be sure to ask before you purchase - don’t assume! A good clue to look for is whether or not there are signs of chewing on any of the leaves.







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