Sunday, March 13, 2016

Bringing Nature Home - Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 11

For the 11th week in the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I read Bringing Nature Home - How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants by Douglas Tallamy.

The book is a very detailed and informative resource for those wanting to learn more about the impact that non-native species have had on the environment. There are many concrete steps that the author suggests for transforming one's property into a wildlife-friendly environment using native plants.

What I enjoyed reading about was that the author didn't just focus on mammals. He showed how to attract beneficial insects, moths, butterflies, and a host of wildlife that often are overlooked when landscaping one's property.

One of the photos in the book showed larvae of cecropia moths - the big lime-green caterpillar-looking things with the pale-blue, yellow, and red protrusions from its body. I remember seeing one of these when I was in Kindergarten. My parents put it in a container for me to bring to school because it was so unusual and colorful.

Apparently if you plant black cherry trees in your yard, you'll see more of the cecropia moths since it is its favorite food.

There's another section about woody plants that are ranked by their ability to support the lepidoptera species. I was surprised to see how many hundreds of species can be supported by some plants. For example:

Oak - 534 species supported*
Willow - 456 species supported*
Cherry, plum - 456 species supported*
Birch - 413 species supported*
Poplar, cottonwood - 368 species supported
Crabapple - 311 species supported*
Blueberry, cranberry - 288 species supported**
Maple, box elder - 285 species supported*
Elm - 213 species supported
Pine - 203 species supported*
Hickory - 200 species supported
Hawthorn - 159 species supported
Alder - 156 species supported
Spruce - 156 species supported*
Ash - 150 species supported
Basswood, linden - 150 species supported**
Filbert, hazelnut - 131 species supported
Walnut, butternut - 130 species supported
Beech - 126 species supported
Chestnut - 125 species supported

* Currently have at our farm.
** Will be planting in Spring/Summer 2016.

Another useful section of the book is the list of native plants specifically for the Midwest. There are about six pages of plants that would thrive in this area. As I looked at them, many were unfamiliar. How different the landscape - and types of wildlife that lives here - would be if even a fraction of the native plants were grown.

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