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Explore the Wild Outside

When yards and gardens become more wildlife friendly, the experience can be magical

kid explores nature in backyard
Exploring wildlife can be mesmerizing

Backyards Can Be Magnets For Wild Creatures

As you'll read in NHMLAC's new book, Wild L.A.: Explore the Amazing Nature in and Around Los Angeles, drama unfolds every day in L.A. backyards, courtyards, and parks. The humble ladybug is the lion of your backyard garden, stalking aphids as voraciously as lions do antelope. Los Angeles’s raccoons, foxes, hummingbirds, lizards—and, yes, even the insects—live in a world just as inspiring and brutal as the dramatic Serengeti. Great horned owls crush cottontail rabbits in their talons, applying some three hundred pounds per square inch of pressure to drain the life from their furry prey. Parasitic wasps lay their eggs in caterpillars so their young can have fresh meat when they hatch. And beetle grubs make juicy snacks for southern alligator lizards, which are themselves hunted by California scrub jays.

Spend enough time in your backyard or apartment complex courtyard and you’ll see more than just the drama of predator versus prey, you may be lucky enough to see what stays hidden from most people. Animals use your yard to court, mate, lay eggs, and give birth—maybe just a few feet from your own bedroom. They defend their territories, raise their young, grow old, and eventually die. Animals go about their lives unknown to us, unless we look closely.

Here are a few creatures you may find!

Salamander in hand
Black-bellied slender salamanders will eat small insects and worms in your garden.
seven spotted ladybug
Seven-spotted ladybugs are one of the most common ladybugs found in the LA area. They are originally from Europe, and were introduced to help farmers manage their pests.
kid at bug fair catches mantid
Praying mantis babies are tiny, like this one here freshly emerged from its egg case.