Here’s a great read: Bringing Nature Home by Douglas Tallamy! He’s written two others I can’t wait to get into. These books explain how each region’s own native plants and the region’s insects evolved over eons in conjunction with one another. Most insects are extremely dependent on specific native plants.
The insects, especially caterpillars, support the bird population, and on up the food chain. If the insect population is dwindling (which it is), then of course the bird population dwindles, along with all the other life supported by insects. Choosing native plants over exotic ones can make a real impact on preserving biodiversity!
At CHC we have a rich opportunity to enhance wildlife habitat on our 50 acres. Mixon, who was formerly with the NC Botanical Garden, is putting in a hedgerow along one of our fence lines – native plants for supporting wildlife, cover for birds, reducing the need for energy consuming and labor-intensive mowing – and, by the way, some berries to munch on during the evening walks along the roadway. This is one of the most exciting and fun parts of our regenerative farm plan!
But Tallamy’s point is that we ALL have a great opportunity to increase habitat, even in urban landscaping! If we and our neighbors join in the movement to use primarily native plants in our landscaping, we will create contiguous spaces which will support butterflies (and therefore caterpillars), birds, and other wildlife.
Check out Tallamy’s books, and also the native plant finder for our area, which lists in order the plants that support the greatest number of butterflies.