Wildlife In The Home Pond Garden - Publications And Educational

    Drowning Fish. Wildlife. fish. fish are a wonderful addition to the home pond garden. they water, then the fish placed in the home pond should only be native to and drown. pubs.ext.vt.edu.

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Wildlife In The Home Pond Garden - Publications And Educational
Publication 426-045
Produced by Communications and Marketing, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2015
Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation,
genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University,
Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program,
Virginia State, Petersburg.
Urban Water-Quality Management
Wildlife in the Home Pond Garden
Lynnette Swanson, Extension Agent, City of Norfolk
Mike Andruczyk, Extension Agent, City of Chesapeake
Laurie Fox, Horticulture Associate, Hampton Roads AREC
Susan French, Extension Agent, Virginia Beach
Reviewed by David Close, Consumer Horticulture and Master Gardener Specialist, Horticulture, Virginia Tech
Small home pond gardens support aquatic plants and
also attract a variety of wildlife. Turtles, frogs, birds,
snakes, lizards, and raccoons as well as many other
animals may use these ponds. Most wildlife needs
water to survive and will seek out ponds for drinking,
bathing, habitat, and in some cases, reproduction.
Wildlife in and around the home pond garden can
make the area interesting. However, an overabun-
dance of wildlife can become a burden on the pond
ecosystem. In some cases, controls may be necessary
to reduce the adverse impact of wildlife.
Fish are a wonderful addition to the home pond
garden. They eat mosquito larvae, water beetles, and
other insect pests. Fish, especially colorful koi and
goldî‚¿sh, are extremely vulnerable to predators and
need places to hide. If the pond is located where î‚¿sh
could escape into natural bodies of water, then the
î‚¿sh placed in the home pond should only be native
to the area to avoid the introduction of exotic or
invasive species.
Fish can cause problems in the home pond garden.
In addition to providing natural insect control, î‚¿sh
will eat the eggs and larvae of frogs, snails, and
other amphibians. Under the right conditions î‚¿sh
will breed readily and may overwhelm the pond
ecosystem promoting algal blooms and declining
water quality. A high î‚¿sh population may also
stimulate greater plant damage in the home pond by
uprooting the plants or eating the foliage.
Some bird species can cause problems in the home pond
garden. Kingî‚¿shers, herons, and egrets eat î‚¿sh and
amphibians from the pond, which is why providing ade-
quate hiding places is important. Ducks, geese, and other
birds can also foul the water and adjacent landscape areas.
During the breeding seasons, geese and other waterfowl
may become aggressive and threaten or attack people and
pets. Discourage birds from resting or nesting in an area
by not feeding them and blocking access to the pond. This
can be done by raising the height of the plants along the
shoreline and making the shoreline of the pond steeper.
Loud noises and random or motion-sensitive high-pressure
water sprays can also discourage birds from becoming
permanent visitors. Nets and fencing will also deter birds
from the home pond garden.
Other birds, especially songbirds, frequently visit home
pond gardens. They eat insects and small frogs, drink, and
bathe at the pond. Birds near the home pond garden may
also attract predators such as snakes, raccoons, and cats.
Wildlife In The Home Pond Garden - Publications And Educational
If the design of the pond does not allow easy access to
the water for drinking or bathing, birds may fall into
the water and drown. Be cautious when using netting as
birds can become tangled. To avoid both of these prob-
lems create a separate area such as a birdbath to supply
drinking and bathing water.
Whenever birds are present at a site, predatory birds such
as hawks and falcons may also be attracted to the site.
Insects and Other Invertebrates
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in warm, still water. An adult
female needs a blood meal to complete her life cycle and
lay eggs. Often that blood meal comes from a human or
other mammal. Fish, tadpoles, and dragonies (both the
adults and the young called naiads) in the home pond
feed on mosquito larvae. Adding an aerating fountain
will reduce the mosquito population by keeping the
water moving. Biological treatments (various forms
of the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt) to prevent
the mosquito larvae from developing into adults are
available, but should only be used according to the label
directions so as to not harm î‚¿sh and other wildlife in the
home pond.
Dragony and Damsely naiads are aquatic predators
that feed on insects, tadpoles, and even small î‚¿sh. Larger
î‚¿sh feed on naiads. Bullfrogs and insect-feeding birds
also eat the adult forms of these insects.
Insect pests of pond plants may become problematic
when aquatic plants are added to the home pond garden.
Insect Pests of Water Garden Plants, Virginia Cooper-
ative Extension publication 426-040, describes these
pests, the damage they cause, and control methods.
Other insect pest populations, such as diving beetles and
water bugs, frequently are controlled by predators such
as larger î‚¿sh and frogs.
Snails primarily feed on algae. There are some species
that devour pond plants. Japanese black and trapdoor
snails are less likely to feed on pond plants.
Crayî‚¿sh can be problematic because they are scavengers
and will eat pond plants. Discourage them by reducing
hiding sites such as soft, damp soil, and rock piles.
House cats may upturn pots or catch î‚¿sh, frogs, and
birds from the home pond. Keeping them indoors is the
easiest solution. Motion-sensitive sprinklers or speak-
ers, and repellent sprays will deter them from the pond.
Weighting containers with gravel or stones can help anchor
them. Adding netting over the pond will prevent cats from
accessing the pond.
Dogs may dig, swim, splash and upturn pots or catch î‚¿sh,
frogs, or birds at or in the home pond. They can also punc-
ture the liner with their toenails. Keeping them indoors
and monitoring their behavior around the pond when
outdoors are the easiest solutions. Other options include
motion-sensitive sprinklers or speakers, repellent sprays,
or adding fencing (structural or electric) around the pond
to prevent access. These methods also work for potbellied
pigs and other domestic pets.
Wild Mammals
Deer will eat water lily leaves and buds as well as many
other pond and garden plants. In addition, their hooves
can easily puncture pond liners. Fencing (structural and/or
electric), repellent sprays (hot pepper wax, soap, predator
urines, human hair, etc.), motion-sensitive lights, sprin-
klers, and audio speakers may keep deer from the pond.
Opossums will eat small animals, insects, carrion, birds,
eggs, and plants from the pond. They may be vectors of
transmittable diseases, including: rabies (rarely), tubercu-
losis, herpes, tularemia, salmonella, and leptospirosis, and/
or disperse parasites such as eas, ticks, mites, and lice.
To deter opossums, eliminate tree cavities and brush piles.
Close off areas under decks and houses, and lock up or
securely close trashcans, compost bins, and sheds. Fenc-
ing, repellant sprays, motion sensors, and dog or human
activity may also deter them.
Raccoons are attracted to pond gardens and eat small
animals, wild birds, fruits, carrion, poultry, eggs, nuts,
mollusks, insects, grubs, vegetables, and î‚¿sh. They can
become aggressive and are the primary vector species
for rabies in Virginia. Remove or close off tree hollows,
drain pipes, brush piles, and abandoned burrows. Lock
up compost piles, sheds, basement/crawl spaces, garages,
pet foods, and trash. Suspend netting over ponds, limb
up trees and/or put 5-foot-high metal sheeting around
tree bases, and increase human activity to deter raccoons.
Fencing and repellents do not work and auditory/visual
stimuli have limited effectiveness. Trapping may be an
alternative, but check with local game wardens î‚¿rst.
Skunks may come to ponds to eat small animals, insects,
fruits, eggs, grubs, and vegetation. Skunks are undesirable
Wildlife In The Home Pond Garden - Publications And Educational
because of their very smelly defensive spray, plus they
may carry rabies as well as other diseases. Grub control
and blood meal may help to keep skunks from visiting
the pond and owerbeds. Remove or close up fallen
tree hollows, abandoned burrows, and crawl spaces.
Call animal control or a professional exterminator to
trap them.
Reptiles and Amphibians
Lizards/skinks are harmless and help eat insects around
ponds. Eliminating debris and limbing up shrubs/trees
will deter their presence.
Snakes eat î‚¿sh, tadpoles, worms, slugs, frogs, crayî‚¿sh,
toads, rats, voles, moles, birds, and other snakes. They
also frighten people and some are poisonous. Eliminate
shady areas, î‚¿rewood piles, tall grass, and brush and
rock piles and block holes to discourage snakes from
the home pond. Repellents are not effective.
Turtles eat î‚¿sh, birds, and vegetation. Snapping turtles
can injure humans, ducks, or pets and puncture liners.
To reduce their visitation, keep the pond small and site
it in an area without loose soils or mulch where turtles
may easily lay eggs.
Salamanders lay eggs in moist areas and occasionally
in ponds. The carnivorous young will eat insects and
small î‚¿sh. Eliminate logs and rocks that adults tend to
hide under and keep ponds steeply sloped and open to
discourage their presence.
Frogs and toads as tadpoles are good scavengers and
food for sh and dragony larvae. Adult frogs control
mosquitoes and other insects. Bullfrogs eat î‚¿sh, small
rodents, and birds. Frogs can be noisy at times. To keep
the population under control, make ponds shallow and
open so that predators can have easy access to them.
Similar to frogs, toads lay their eggs in ponds and
spend part of their life cycle as tadpoles. Toads do not
cause warts, but can make dogs ill if they eat or mouth
toads. To reduce the toad population, eliminate shady
areas adjacent to the pond.
Whether wild or domestic, big or small, creatures will
be attracted to home ponds. All living things need food,
shelter, water, and space to live. Removing one or more
of these elements will help deter unwanted organisms.
In general, to deter undesirable wildlife:
• Increase the lawn/open area and keep the grass
mowed short.
• Decrease plant diversity – monoculture.
• Eliminate brush, leaf, and debris piles.
• Eliminate open water.
• Build the pond with steep sides.
• Do not provide feeders or other food sources.
• Increase human and dog activity.
For quick reference on the pest, possible impacts to the
home pond garden, and pest control options refer to the
chart on page 4.
References and More Information
Aquascape Lifestyle Books. 2004. The Ecosystem Pond.
The Pond Guy Publications, West Chicago, Illinois.
ISBN 0-9753123-0-8
Drzewucki, Vincent Jr. 1998. Gardening in Deer Coun-
try. Brick Tower Press, New York, New York. ISBN
Kramer, Elsa, project editor. 2003. Creating Water Gar-
dens. Ortho Books, Meredith Publishing Group, Des
Moines, Iowa. ISBN 0-89721-492-7
North Carolina State University, Wildlife Damage Con-
trol: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/nreos/wild/wildlife/wdc/
University of Florida: IFAS Extension Wildlife Ecology
and Conservation: http://edis.ifas.u.edu
Virginia Cooperative Extension Publications:
The authors thank Jim A. Parkhurst, associate professor
of wildlife sciences and Extension wildlife specialist,
Virginia Tech; William Dimock, Extension agent, City
of Newport News; and Leanne DuBois, Extension
agent James City County, for their editorial contribu-
tions to this publication.
Wildlife In The Home Pond Garden - Publications And Educational
Home Pond Garden Pest Reference
Prey on
Prey on Other
Pond Inhabitants
Plants Other Damage Control Options
Tadpoles, snails,
amphibians X
Can overpopulate
the pond
Feed less frequently;
Reduce î‚¿sh population;
Add gravel to tops of containers
Herons and
Tadpoles, small frogs,
other amphibians
Nets over the pond;
Make the shoreline steeper;
Loud noise and random or motion-sensitive high
pressure water sprays
Foul water and adjacent
landscape areas
Aggressive at nesting
time of the year
Add weight to the pots to anchor;
Add gravel to tops of containers;
Provide hiding places for î‚¿sh;
Nets and fencing around the pond;
Raise height of plants along shoreline;
Make the shoreline steeper;
Loud noise and random or motion-sensitive high
pressure water sprays
Other Birds Insects, small frogs
Attract other predators
May drown in pond
Larvae will develop in
Fish, tadpoles, and dragonies feed on larvae;
Aerating fountain to keep the water moving;
Biological pesticides
Insects, tadpoles,
small frogs
Encourage frogs and insect-feeding birds
Choose Japanese black or trapdoor snails
Tadpoles, small frogs
Will create mounds in soft
Reduce hiding sites such as soft, damp soil and
rock piles
Frogs, birds, other
Keep indoors;
Monitor outside behavior;
Motion-sensitive sprayers, sprinklers, loud noise,
Nets and fencing around the pond;
Add weight to the pots to anchor them
Pigs and
Other Pets
Frogs, birds, other
Puncture pond liners with
toenails; Swim, splash in
the pond
Keep indoors;
Monitor outside behavior;
Motion-sensitive sprayers, sprinklers, loud noise,
Nets and fencing around the pond;
Add weight to the pots to anchor them
Puncture pond liners Fencing around the pond;
Motion-sensitive sprayers, sprinklers, loud noises
Small animals,
insects, birds, other
Can transmit diseases and
parasites to humans and
pets; Can injure pets
Remove nesting areas such as trees with cavities,
brush piles;
Lock up and secure compost piles, sheds, crawl
spaces, garages, and trash areas;
Motion-sensing devices;
More animal/human activity;
Animal control or exterminator services
Small animals,
birds, frogs, other
Can be aggressive; Can
transmit diseases and
parasites to humans and
Small animals,
insects, birds, other
Can transmit diseases and
parasites to humans and
pets; Can be aggressive
Small animals,
insects, birds, other
Can be aggressive, some
venomous; usually frighten
Eliminate debris areas, rocks, wood piles, and
brushy areas;
Keep pond area small;
Eliminate shady areas adjacent to pond
Smaller birds, frogs,
other inhabitants
Can transmit salmonella;
Snapping turtles can be
Frogs / Toads
Small animals,
smaller birds, frogs,
and other inhabitants
Can make dogs ill and can
be noisy.