Cardinals for Pest Control
Because cardinals are year-round residents, they are a reliable part of the natural pest control system in your yard. Those that set up housekeeping in and near your property patrol it regularly in their search for protein, dispatching all kinds of pest insects that are also resident in the yard. Even though they are primarily fruit and seed-eaters, in the summer they prey insects to feed their young until they are old enough to digest seeds. Since they typically raise two broods a season, parents scour the yard for insects twice each season. Cardinals are really efficient predators of many caterpillars and beetles and other pest insects including:
|Lunch for Cardinals|
|Asparagus beetles||Mexican bean beetles|
|Colorado potato beetles||Sowbugs|
|Cucumber beetles||Tent caterpillars|
Cardinals As Pests
While cardinals are by far a beneficial member of the home ecosystem, they do have a few enthusiasms that can be a problem for the vegetable gardener. Cardinals just love snap peas and tomatoes and will munch from time to time on other veggies. In most cases, they do not create any major damage; they are for short periods of time in the growing system a minor nuisance.
Often the reason for the veggie garden raids is lack of water. If the weather has been particularly dry, cardinals and other songbirds will each fruits and veggies to get water. Solution? Keep the bird bath filled during dry weather.
The simple solution to the tomato and snap pea problem is to string bird repelling mylar tape on the plants, just during the period when there is fruit on them. The Tanglefoot Company and the Bird-X Company both manufacture a tape effective in repelling cardinals from those special treats without keep songbirds out of the rest of the garden.
If you happen to have some Floating Row Cover or Fleece it can be used to cover your crops endangered by the lovely Cardinal.