Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Bringing Nature Home"

 Lots of good books this summer..."A Sparrowhawk's Lament," "Trees of Eastern North America," "The Thing With Feathers," but first, "Bringing Nature Home" by Douglas Tallamy. Me and The Doodles have been working on making our gardens more wildlife friendly for the past few years and I just discovered this fantastic book!

It covers just about everything you need to know to change your habitat from harmful to helpful. So many nurseries focus solely on decorative species(otherwise known as "alien") because they're pretty and insects don't eat them. Well, guess what? If bugs have nothing to eat, then birds have nothing to eat...or frogs, toads, mink or people. No insects, no pollination. As Mr. Tallamy states, "...insects have done fine on this earth without humans and would continue to do so in our absence. If insects were to disappear, however, our own extinction would not be far behind."

I've been going through insect photos from our gardens from the past years, and the variety has steadily decreased. We have more and more neighbors using lawn services and "pest" control. They can't figure out why they aren't seeing as many bees or lightning bugs. They just don't get it.

"Bringing Nature Home" is a must read for all of us. It explains simply what you can do to help out mother nature in your yard and neighborhood. We have a few neighbors that now understand that our yard is a little crazy for a reason. In chapter 10, Mr. Tallamy talks about "Blending in with the neighbors" and being known as the oddball in the neighborhood.

He has suggestions for yard plans, like on page 135 and lists of plants that will support lepidoptera species. I learned that oak trees can support up to 534 species, cherry trees up to 456 species and hickory as many as 200. Those are three trees we have in our small yard already as I'm sure many of you do.

This is really a worthwhile book to invest in...not to mention our future and the future of the birds we so love and enjoy.

 Our Black Swallowtail caterpillars have eaten their fill and wandered off to grow into butterflies!
Those two little "horns" on its head pop out when they aren't happy that you're taking their photo.

 An adult Black Swallowtail on thistle...which seems to plant itself. 
I like that. No holes to dig!

 This is a female Bumble Bee with a healthy collection of pollen for the kids.
We have plenty of echinacea or cone flower in our gardens.

 When you don't use herbicides or insecticides, you get plenty of sweet delicious clover for the bunnies to feast on.
Plus the clover keeps them away from other plants!
More bunnies will be here soon...

This is an Eight-spotted Forester moth, on milkweed with a red milkweed beetle hidden away in there as well.
We have quite a bit of milkweed in a number of varieties to keep the insects happy.

 The aroma of milkweed is fantastic. Our whole garden smells great in the morning and is a magnet for butterflies like this Great Spangled Fritillary.

 I found this Katydid hiding under a milkweed leaf.

 I also found this single Monarch butterfly egg under a milkweed leaf.
It pays to crawl around in your garden searching under everything. 
You never know what you'll find!

 Here's a Monarch butterfly and a caterpillar on the same plant.
Monarch populations are down drastically due to deforestation and the flagrant use of pesticides.

 Butterfly Weed lives up to its name!

 We also have plenty of Black-eyed Susan in the garden.
This Orange Sulphur likes it as much as The Doodles!

 Pearl Crescents even seem to fight over these!

 Red Admiral.
I don't see his ship anywhere...

 Summer Azures enjoy Queen Anne's Lace and Spring Azures lay their eggs on native Viburnums.
We have plenty of both.

 This Eastern Tiger Swallowtail kept me company during lunch this afternoon.
I wonder if he enjoyed the cone flower? as much as I enjoyed my hot dogs...

 Yep, he was happier...

We also have Joe Pye weed which the Spicebush Swallowtail likes, wild violets for the fritillaries, spicebush and more. Remember every caterpillar becomes a new butterfly, moth or food for a hungry bird! Please look into changing the habitat around you and get a little help from "Bringing Nature Home!"


  1. The more of these books around the better. We have a locally produced book called NatureScape by Myrna Pearman. Unfortunately the book is only available locally. We're thinking of producing it digitally but much of it has to be updated.

  2. The perfect post, Dave. As I was looking about my yard and property just yesterday, I was thinking how pretty people's gardens are, but how much I love my natural 'decor'. I will consider this book when I'm making up my Christmas list this year!

  3. Your non-bird pictures are incredible. So sharp. Thank you for sharing.