D E C banner
D E C banner

Disclaimer

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has added a link to a translation service developed by Microsoft Inc., entitled Bing Translator, as a convenience to visitors to the DEC website who speak languages other than English.

Additional information can be found at DEC's Language Assistance Page.

From the February 2013 Conservationist for Kids

Pest or Pal?

That depends.

By Gina Jack

A pal is helpful; a pest is not.

Milkweed

A monarch butterfly on a milkweed flower

While many people don't like milkweed in their yards, it is an essential source of food for monarch butterflies. Is it okay to let part of the yard go wild and allow milkweed to grow there?

Mosquito

A mosquito on human skin

While most people don't like mosquitoes, they are an important food source for many animals, including dragonflies, songbirds and bats. You can help limit the numbers of mosquitoes in your yard by making sure they have no standing water, such as in a bucket or old car tire, in which to lay their eggs.

Mushroom

Two white mushrooms growing in the grass

Fungi, including mushrooms, are important decomposers. They break down dead plants and animals and return their nutrients to the soil, helping the soil support new plant growth.

Purple Loosestrife

Purple loosestrife plant in bloom at the water's edge

In its native Europe, purple loosestrife provides food for many kinds of insects. Here in North America, it's an invasive species and a pest. No native insects eat it, and it crowds out native wetland plants that are food for our wildlife. Insects that eat purple loosestrife have been brought here from Europe. This seems to have limited the spread of the plant.

Skunk

A skunk on a lawn

What are skunks looking for when they dig in yards? They're looking for grubs (beetle larvae). Grubs eat the roots of grass from underground, and skunks eat grubs.