5 Spook-tacular Animals to Welcome to Your Garden this Halloween

NWF   |   October 26, 2011

Each year at Halloween, popular decorations and public perceptions can give some animals a reputation for being menacing or malignant. But some of these creepy critters, like spiders, owls and bats, can be especially beneficial to your backyard habitat.


Great horned owl by Larry Hitchens

Great horned owl by Larry Hitchens

Owls have been traditionally viewed as bad omens, representing death in many cultures, and their hoots can make any nighttime walk a little spookier. By welcoming these silent, stealthy hunters to your yard, they’ll provide superior rodent control and protect your yard with their watchful gaze. Old trees are a favorite habitat of owls, but an owl nesting box can work just as well. (To get up close and personal to a real owl, check out this amazing owl cam.)


These helpful hoppers are often associated with witchcraft in folklore. Provide a home in your yard for your friendly neighborhood toad (warts and all) and he’ll thank you by eating up to 10,000 insect pests over the course of an average summer. You can purchase a “toad abode” or simply half-bury a ceramic pot in your yard to attract these beneficial amphibians.


common orb weaver by Alison Sheehey

If you’re scared of spiders, imagine how this poor fiery skipper feels. Alison Sheehey photographed this common orb weaver making a meal of a skipper.

Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, is one of the most common phobias, and while these creepy crawlies strike fear in the hearts of many, the ones who should be scared of them are your pesky garden pests. Spiders will protect your beautiful yard from plant-eating insects and protect you from annoying bugs like mosquitoes. Thank them by putting down thick mulch so they can hide and protect themselves from the cold winter temperatures.


Another common phobia is ophidiophobia, the fear of snakes. They may never live down their scary reputation, but many snakes can be a big help in the garden. Harmless species like garter snakes prefer cool, dark places to hide and prey on insects, slugs and even rodents, which can carry dangerous diseases into your home.


Did you know all 40 species of bats in the United States are beneficial to people? Most feed on insect pests and some even help in pollination. A bat house placed 12-15 feet off the ground can entice these flying friends to take up residence in your yard.

Once you welcome these spook-tacular wildlife friends to your yard or garden, be sure to certify it as an official NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat® site to begin receiving all of your great benefits! Just provide wildlife with the four elements essential to their survival: food, water, shelter and places to raise young.

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