The relationship between plant and animal life
Exploring the plant and animals kingdoms
If you are taking good care of your garden and potted plants the insects, bugs, and other small creaturesn will make you notice them whether you want to or not. Next time you go weeding, look at them with a magnifying glass. You've often seen daddy longlegs. Did you know that they carry their eyes on a sort of "conning tower" in the middle of their back? Did you ever look in the face of a June bug? It resembles a rather stupid puppy, with an antennae like a pair of palm-leaf fans waving ridiculously where the ears should be.
Watch bees, wasps, and moths. Like all the other inects, they are in search of food. Their food is the nectar at the heart of a flower. As they crawl about in the flower the pollen sticks to their furry legs. When they visit another flower some of the pollen brushes off. Every flower that these insects visit gets a little pollen from some other flower. Many plants depend entirely upon insects to pollinate them.
They cannot develop new seeds unless pollen gets down into the part of the flowers where the seeds grow. The beautiful colors and forms and perfumes of flowers and plants are designed by nature to attract insects. Insects and flowers act as partners. We learned that animals cannot live without plants. Now we discover that many of the plants we know today cannot live without animals. Remember that insects are animals. Nearly all fruitbearning plants need the services of insects, as do many vegetables. Trees, shrubs, and flowers need insects too.
Animals Help Plants
Few of our plants could grow without birds. Do you know why? Birds eat enormous numbers of insects. Many of these insects are plant eaters. If they were not checked by their enemies, they would increase in number and destroy all plant life. Watch the birds in your neighborhood and try to find out what they are eating. Snakes, lizards, frogs, toads, and bats also eat insects and should be protected as good friends of the farmer and gardener.
On the stems of your garden plants, and where leaves join in the main stalk, you will probably find aphids. They are tiny insects, pale and fragile looking. With the magnifying glass look at the sharp beaks with which they pierce plant tissues. Aphids are harmful to your garden, and you will have to kill them. But they are very useful to many ants, which "milk" them to obtain a sweet substance from their bodies. Ants even pasture aphids and shelter them in underground "stables."
The policemen of your garden are the ladybugs. Don't ever kill them, for these meat eaters help you get rid of the destructive plant eaters. Dragonflies kill countless houseflies, mosquitoes, and other pests. The villainous praying mantis attacks both harmful and beneficial creatures and sometimes becomes a pest itself. Have you noticed that your garden is a veritable battleground? here constant warfare is waged to eat and to keep from being eaten.