Sheltering at home may lend itself to projects to complete in the garden. If you’ve considered replacing lawn with a naturescape, you’ve already considered a valuable first step in protecting the native environment. According to Doug Tallamy, a professor of entomology at the University of Delaware, homeowners and gardeners can go even further to steward the environment by choosing native plants that provide nourishment to insects, birds, and small mammals. By going this extra step we are protecting these species from possible extinction, as well as protecting our own survival.
Insect life is vital to our survival because they are the bottom rung of the food chain. Without a wide variety of insect life we fail to feed the animals and insects that pollinate our food supply and provide us protein. Our habit of utilizing landscaping materials which ignore the needs of the life around us creates a potential problem for us long term. As a result, many species of insects have already gone to extinction. Although we cannot change what has been done, we have an opportunity to foster an environment which protects insect life and ultimately the small birds and mammals that feed on them.
It is a common misconception that birds only eat seeds and berries, however, baby birds eat only insects. The insect that is chosen most frequently are caterpillars because caterpillars are soft and have the right amount of nutrition to support a baby bird. Similar to our own nutrition requirements to eat a wide variety of foods, birds and other mammals require a wide variety of species of insects in order to provide proper nutrition to their young. Therefore birds thrive in environments which support moths and butterflies. Fortunately, a few select varieties of native plants supply a majority of the food supply for these vital insects.
By planting native plants which are food sources for caterpillars, we also support birds and other wildlife habitat. According to “Superfoods in the Insect Garden” by the Ecological Landscape Alliance insect superfood species include oak, willows, plums, cranberry, blueberry, goldenrod, aster, and sunflower.
According to Calscape.org species that are native to the Santa Clara County area include:
One thing you may have heard lately with the recent shelter in place order is the sound of birds. Without the deafening and constant hum of vehicles passing, bird sounds are considerably more prominent. Choosing native plant life which provides nourishment to the birds and insects will ensure their survival and the long term protection of the biodiversity of the natural environment. It is possible for you to continue to complete these garden projects at home with safe practice services provided by Summerwinds Nursery. Please responsibly use social distancing practices when leaving your home and never leave if you have symptoms of illness. Living Classroom wishes you good health and abundant gardening.