I am currently exploring all of the animals and insects that benefit the farm. This post should be considered a living document, and as I find more, I will be adding to it. I started by wondering how we could help each other out.
I have developed the following list, which includes observations and some crazy ideas.
Bats: Bats are incredibly beneficial creatures to have around for two reasons. Firstly, they eat an enormous amount of mosquitoes and bugs, which is great for guests and workers alike. Secondly, their waste or ‘guano’ is one of nature’s great fertilizers. Guano is so effective as it has incredibly high levels of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphate, which are all essential for plant growth. Unfortunately, currently, the only interaction we have with bats is when they swoop down and terrorize our goats. We are exploring the idea of building bat houses in specific areas, and encourage them to move in!
Wasps: We have not yet fully explored this option, however, a friend of mine asserts that for every caterpillar, there is a type of wasp that will predate upon it. This may take some time to fully understand, and certainly trial and error. If you want to read more about how wasps can be used on your farm, check out this resource.
Small birds: These agile creatures can move at an incredible pace through the jungle. They will feast upon small bugs, critters, and caterpillars. We are currently considering building some small bird-houses to encourage them onto the farm.
Birds of prey: Birds of prey are skilled and devastating hunters. They will consume all manner of small rodent and unwanted vermin. They have been known to pluck off small dogs and kittens if you’re not careful! However, these guys are time-consuming to train. Maybe we need to invite a raptor-trainer to the farm!
Snakes: Snakes get a bad name, as many people are terrified of them. However, they are actually the farmer’s best friend. They can move about the farm without trampling anything and will rid you of all rats, mice, and smaller rodents. There is one big issue with having snakes on the farm. If they become too successful they will grow big and strong and set their sights on your chicken coop for a larger dinner! They are incredibly strong, and will almost certainly break into even the most secure coop.
Assassin Bugs: These little guys may be small, but they pack an incredible punch. They will predate upon wasps larger than themselves and will bite humans that get in their way (as my wide Yasmin painfully discovered). We have them here on the farm, and they are really living up to their name and keeping the bugs under control.
Ladybugs: These lovely little critters are used all over the world to control aphids – which makes it even more unfortunate to learn that they do not live here in Costa Rica. I have witnessed some remarkably similar bugs that look exactly like them but other colors. I’ve also seen ladybugs with no spots here.