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Quench beneficial backyard insects' thirst with a water feature

Updated: May 2

By Pamela Sleightholm


Water features have long been popular in gardens, not only for their aesthetic appeal but also for their ecological benefits.


Incorporating a water feature into your garden can provide a haven for wildlife, help attract beneficial insects, and contribute to the overall health of your garden ecosystem.



One of the primary ecological benefits of including a water feature in your garden is the role it plays in supporting wildlife. Birds, insects, and other small animals rely on water for drinking and bathing, and a well-maintained water feature can provide a consistent and reliable water source for these creatures.


In addition to supporting wildlife, water features can also help to attract beneficial insects to your garden. By including a water feature in your garden, you can create a welcoming habitat for bees and butterflies, helping to support the health of your plants and promote biodiversity.


Create a garden puddler for local butterflies

Butterflies, especially males, exhibit a behaviour called puddling. Sometimes in large groups, they are drawn to shallow puddles where they sip water enriched with nutrients from the soil or sand. This, in addition to including host and nectar plants, will be a huge draw for local butterflies.


This video shows butterflies puddling in Carden Alvar Provincial Park.



Creating a garden butterfly puddler can be as easy as leaving a mulch-free patch in a sunny spot. Or you can make a simple puddler as a garden feature, filling a saucer with sand and adding a little water. Include some rocks for the butterflies to perch on above the water line.


Water features for all sizes and budgets

Other water features that you can incorporate into your garden range from simple birdbaths to elaborate ponds and waterfalls. Birdbaths are a popular choice for smaller gardens or for those looking for a low-maintenance option. They provide a simple and accessible source of water for birds and other wildlife, and can be easily cleaned and maintained.


For those looking to create a more dramatic focal point in their garden, ponds can be a beautiful and functional addition. Ponds can support a wide variety of aquatic plants and wildlife, and can be designed to attract specific species such as frogs or dragonflies.


Murray and Mary Ellen Moore's backyard pond and bog provide habitat for many species of insects and amphibians. (Mary Ellen Moore, 2024)


No matter what type of water feature you choose, incorporating water into your garden can have a positive impact on the health and biodiversity of your garden ecosystem. By providing a source of water for wildlife, attracting beneficial insects, and maintaining healthy moisture levels, water features can help to create a more balanced and sustainable garden environment.


Resources


Wildlife Friendly Water Features Garden For Wildlife, National Wildlife Federation


Darke, Rick and Tallamy, Dr. Douglas, The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden


Lawson, Nancy, The Humane Gardener


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