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I have been told that a couple of rudd would feed upon the mosquito larvae in my pond but am reluctant to introduce fish. What do you advise?

Sent in by Paul Pensom, London

Creating a wildlife pond is a great way of enhancing the garden environment. By creating a pond with a variety of depths, native aquatic vegetation and different substrates, you will naturally attract a range of creatures.

In a small garden pond intended for wildlife, introducing fish may reduce the productivity of any invertebrates, newts, frogs or toads you attract. The fish may eat the beneficial organisms and their eggs and larvae.

When the pond is establishing, fly larvae are some of the first creatures to move in. These are not just mosquitoes and gnats but often crane-flies, midges and black flies.

As the pond develops, a balanced eco-system should evolve between predators and prey, so it is unlikely that you will be plagued by swarms of biting insects. Not all of these insects bite and many of our urban bird species rely on flying insects for food such as the swift, house martin and pied wagtail. The aquatic fly larvae will attract aquatic predators too such as water boatmen, which can fly to colonise new ponds, dragonfly larvae and the efts of newts.

The best way to encourage a range of species to colonise the pond is to improve the pond habitat.

Plant a range of vegetation around the pond, some surface plants for cover and lots of marginal plants for the aquatic creatures to lay eggs on, feed on and hide in.

Some tall plants, like yellow flag, are also beneficial to dragon and damselflies as they allow the larvae to climb out when they are ready to emerge into their adult form.

If you can incorporate a hibernacula or a log pile nearby to the pond, these features should attract amphibians to the pond which may eventually use the pond to breed. Visit our advice pages where you can find more information on how to make the most of a wildlife pond, or sign up to take part in our exciting wildlife gardening project 'Homes for Wildlife' to receive tailored advice for your garden on how to attract a range of species and create a wide variety of features.

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