Beneficial Garden Pests: Snakes, Toads, Bats, and Spiders | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Bats, Spiders, and Other Beneficial Critters in the Garden

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Rudmer Zwerver/Shutterstock

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Bats, spiders, and toads—oh, my! It turns out that there are some garden “pests” that you should actually welcome with open arms. These creepy creatures can be great garden helpers. So, you may want to think again before sending ill will towards them!

Praise Snakes:

  • Garter snakes are most common in North America and are no threat at all to humans, though they will bite if they feel threatened.
  • Their backyard prey include slugs, grasshoppers, and small rodents, including the voles that chew bark off your fruit trees. They’re a great 
  • They also eat bullfrog tadpoles. But, in a twist of irony, adult bullfrogs can devour garter snakes—so many, in fact, that garter snake populations have declined in some areas.

garter snakes

Terrific Toads:

  • When the Sun goes down, these amphibians go to work looking for mosquitoes, slugs, sow bugs, flies, beetles, cutworms, and caterpillars to eat.
  • Worried about warts? Don’t be! Toads have gotten a bad rap as the supposed cause of warts, but warts are actually brought on by a human virus. The worst thing a toad can do to you is pee on your hand when you pick it up!


Bring on the Bats:

  • Without bats, we would be up to our necks in bugs. From dusk til dawn, bats skim the skies with open mouths, devouring mosquitoes, wasps, flies, gnats, midges, moths, and beetles.
  • Bats are in deadly danger, however. Millions have been killed by a fungal disease called white-nose syndrome. Insects may be celebrating, but gardeners and farmers are not.


Set Your Sights on Spiders:

  • Spiders eat lots and lots of insects. Most of these super predators spin webs to help catch their prey. Their webs are even used by hummingbirds to glue their nests together.
  • Even the house or “cellar” spiders are helpful. These creepy-crawlies create cobwebs that capture insects such as ants and roaches and even other spiders. They’re harmless to humans, so maybe cobwebs in the cellar aren’t so terrible!
  • Did you know? Spider silk reflects UV light, which warns away birds but attracts bugs.

jumping spider

→ Read more about beneficial insects in the garden!

About The Author

Christopher Burnett

Chris is an avid gardener, maintaining a small vegetable garden for himself and his family, a variety of ornamental flowers and shrubs, and a diverse collection of houseplants. Read More from Christopher Burnett

2023 Gardening Club