Well, ok, not my whole life, but certainly the part that I spend gardening, which is close to 15% of my life in the summer.
1. Insects that are native to an ecosystem have evolved to eat only plants native to that ecosystem
2. Baby birds eat insects. Even normally seed-eating birds need a large insect population to support their young.
3. So, if there are fewer native plants around, there are fewer native insects, and fewer birds.
4. Suburban gardeners have a responsibility to rebuild the native ecosystem which the suburb has displaced.
Tallamy makes these points quickly, then spends a chapter on how to make a garden of native plants look attractive and formal so you don’t irritate your neighbors. The bulk of the book is descriptions of insects native to the eastern U.S. and the plants they live on, accompanied by attractive color photographs. I’ve identified the little red bugs on my coneflowers as the nymph stage of Red Milkweed Beetles.
For the last few years I’ve grown some native prairie plants because they are drought-tolerant and don’t require any attention. But I’ve also been planting various exotic ornamental species that are drought-tolerant, and it never occurred to me that they are just wasting space in my garden. Nothing can eat them, so they’re not in the food chain. I never thought about the insect part of the ecosystem, and how important it is to provide food and shelter for the insects that other local fauna depend on.
From now on only native plants and vegetables are allowed in my garden. And when I see that something is eating my perennials, instead of being irritated I’ll be happy that a tiny bit of the ecosystem is working as it should.