Observe the biodiversity in your garden

Article suggested by Guénel Nathalie, co-founder of Bestioles et compagnie – the naturalistic booster – and creator of the Garden Biodiversity Summit.

We are all convinced by now that welcoming and preserving biodiversity in your garden has many benefits. It surprises us of course, it is good for our health, but it is also an indispensable ally of our gardens. Helpers or pollinators, insects or birds, they all play a role in the garden.

We then redouble our efforts to attract them to us! We build the most beautiful nest boxes, stimulate our creativity to place an insect hotel with several compartments, dig ponds, give more space to weeds, etc…

BUT have you ever perceived what already lives by your side? Are these facilities relevant and necessary?

At the Garden Biodiversity Summit, 21 enthusiasts explained how to observe the fauna and flora of their garden.

the insects

Large groups of infinite shapes and colors, these little critters hide all over the garden and often go unnoticed.

To detect them, it is better to proceed methodically.

Present all year round in one form or another, eggs, larvae or fliers, our chance to see (or hear!) them is best on sunny days, say between May and September. However, the sunny gardens of the south will reveal these wonders as early as February.

After that, observations are facilitated at the flower beds, a kind of canteen on all floors. For example, David Genoud, one of the enthusiasts interviewed at the Summit, wanders from flower arrangement to flower arrangement to meet his favorite winged young ladies: the bees! Depending on the region and the “standard of living” of your garden, 30 to 80 species can be observed.

The flowers can also be the basis of some beetles, such as the rose beetle, the common hoverfly or even the swallowtail moth, a butterfly that especially appreciates umbellifers such as carrots. Everyone chooses flowers with corollas suitable for their nectar and pollen-gathering tools, meticulously pollinating anything that can be pollinated.

Cetonia aureus
Cetonia gold. Credits: N GOUIX

But insects can also be found under the leaves, on the stems and even on the surface of the soil, in the litter. All angles can be used for all or part of their life cycle. The laying of a peacock egg is easily hidden by a nettle leaf, the host plant. A stalk will be of interest to biting suckers like bed bugs who will enjoy a few drops of juice. Finally, it is teeming with ants, these precious helpers in soil management.

Peacock caterpillars of the day
Peacock caterpillars of the day. Credits David SANNIER www.bestiolesetcompagnie.fr

Indeed, Matthieu Roffet explained to us that these cousins ​​of wasps and bees (all Hymenoptera), thanks to the many galleries they dig to develop their colony, aerate the soil and also facilitate the infiltration of water in all directions. hydration. His advice for finding out if colonies share our garden is to place a drop of honey in several places. After about 30 minutes, the first curious person should have found this “taste trap”. By following them you will then find their colony.

In addition to the food sources, the enclosures are essential for the garden to protect this precious fauna. It is then that any support placed on the ground can form a temporary shelter and allow the installation of a group of individuals. Lift up the stones, the flower pots or even this cinder block that was placed there a few weeks ago and you are sure to find some chitinous or furry bodies surrounded by three pairs of legs.

The compost or the pile of wood are also privileged places to observe the larvae of beetles, one of the largest species groups in the world with 400,000 species!

The other critters in his garden

But it’s not just insects that colonize your garden and can be observed.

Ocellated lizard
Ocellated lizard. Credits David SANNIER www.bestiolesetcompagnie.fr

More stealthy and fond of the crawling friends we just mentioned, reptiles can be observed quite easily, provided you are patient and choose the best times to observe them. You know that spring day that seems so gray and warm? This morning who absolutely does not want the sun to point clearly on the tip of his nose? And very good news! Say goodbye to that gloomy look, impatient for spring to return beautiful and bright, you now know that it is THE best time to look for the reptiles in your garden. Ectothermic animals, they need to warm up to be active. Their internal temperature depends on that of their environment. They therefore expose themselves in the morning to get out of their lethargy and choose near their shelter, a stone or a piece of wood that will facilitate the heat exchange. Once the sun is too strong and the shade warm enough, they no longer have to leave their favorite hedge, thus preserving the mystery of their presence until next year…

zizi bunting
Zizi bunting. Credits David SANNIER www.bestiolesetcompagnie.fr

But if you prefer to look up, birds are definitely waiting for you! Perhaps easier to observe, it is sometimes difficult to know if they really live with us and benefit from the caterpillars in our vegetable garden. Sébastien Lazzaroni, who delighted us with his speech at the Summit and his beautiful photos, describes several interesting behaviors. Here are some examples: the sighting of a bird with twigs in its beak indicates the construction of a nest in a nearby area; The transport of a cloacal sac (faeces) indirectly translates the presence of a brood; Frequently going back and forth between your yard and a hedge could mean you continue feeding. A tit would make up to 400 round trips a day to feed its young, always with a full bill. Here are so many clues to a living garden, colonized by wild animals.

Observe before acting

So before wasting energy on creating artificial shelters (nesting boxes, insect hotel…), it is possible to know which critters already live with us. Perfect for orienting your actions and acting quickly!

natterjack toads
natterjack toads. Credits David SANNIER www.bestiolesetcompagnie.fr

This information is also crucial if we are to prevent our good intentions from turning into a biodiversity ordeal…

The classic example is to create a pond to attract amphibians whose double lives require a terrestrial habitat, for example a hedge, in addition to an aquatic habitat used for their short reproduction period. If these two habitats are separated by a road, the risk of crushing is very real and your garden will turn from an oasis into a cemetery…

But we could also mention this misplaced nest box competing with the pair of robins that have long been installed… or even this bat house placed too close to our good old Felix’s favorite windowsill… .

Observation and understanding seem to be an essential condition for any action in the garden, however generous it may be.

And how nice to see that biodiversity is everywhere, even where you would think it has disappeared! What happiness to observe this life agitated without our being responsible for it!

To your magnifying glasses and binoculars

[email protected]