When you provide food, water, shelter and places for wildlife to raise their young, native wildlife will automatically reintroduce itself to your backyard. Some of the critters we have in our backyard are listed in the Critter Index where you'll find photos, videos and more information.

Food for Critters

One of the best ways to provide food is to plant native plants. Critters depend on native plants and their acclimatization to the area for the berries and nuts they produce. For example, the fruit of the native flowering dogwood tree is the favorite berry of bluebirds while the berries of the non-native species like Korean dogwood (Cornus kousa) are not.

In an extremely eye-opening article, UD Scientist Fears Insect Food Supply Affected By Non-Native Plants, Doug Tallamy, University of Delaware Professor of Entomology and Applied Ecology, is concerned about the decline of native insects (bees, butterflies, moths and others) because of their inability to eat non-native plants. Non-native plants choke out the natives. The result of which causes the food supply of insects to disappear.

"Why should the disappearance of insects concern people who spend millions every year getting rid of them in the garden?" Tallamy asks. "Plants are at the base of the food chain, and insects feed on plants. If insects disappear, so do the creatures that depend on them. More than 90 percent of insects are restricted in their diets because they do not have the enzymes required to digest the leaves of non-native plants, sometimes referred to as exotics," he explains. "Fewer plant food sources, fewer insects, wildlife vanishes."

This article lists plants "Foods Insects Like" such as Viburnum, Hickory, Oak, Black walnut, Black willow, Elderberry, Goldenrod, Black cherry and Red maple. There is also a list of don't plant "Junk Food for Insects" such as Multiflora rose, Oriental bittersweet, Japanese honeysuckle, Autumn olive, Mile-a-minute weed, Garlic mustard, Norway maple, Ox-eye daisy and Red clover.

Forms of Shelter

Provide various forms of shelters such as rock piles, log piles and brush piles. NWF has detailed information on Wildlife Brush Shelters - The Missing Piece of the Habitat Puzzle. You can also build or purchase shelters for bats, birds, bees, ladybugs, toads and other wildlife.

The Importance of Water

Installing a pond will attract local frogs, salamanders, and dragonflies. The National Wildlife Federation provides information on how to build a simple or complex backyard pond. Ponds are important part of a backyard wildlife habitat to re-establish frogs along with other amphibians. If you have an interest in frogs, you can join the National Wildlife Federation's Frogwatch Program.