by Barbara Walvoord
It takes 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars to raise one nest full of chickadees. Almost all caterpillars eat only native plants, not aliens.*
Plants don’t want to be eaten, so they evolve to make themselves poisonous, distasteful, or inaccessible to insect mouthparts. But, aha! each native insect has co-evolved to overcome the defenses of one or several native plants. Thus the monarch butterfly lays eggs only on milkweed–the only thing its caterpillars can eat. Facing a 90% decline in monarchs due in part of disappearance of milkweed, the National Wildlife Federation and others are mounting a national effort to increase milkweed plantings.
Butterflies, bees, and birds–that’s why we need native plants on Lathrop land, including our gardens. Natives can be as beautiful, orderly, and well-designed as aliens.**
Stores may advertise “native” plants, but beware: natives from the Midwest may not be as good for our insects as Continue reading The Chickadee’s Guide to Gardening