We all garden for different reasons. Some people enjoy cut flowers, some are vegetable gardeners, others look for the perfect aesthetic. One thing we all have in common is our ever-expanding desire to improve and enhance our landscape.

Sometimes that might not be a direct planting you see with your eyes, but ways you can attract other forms of nature creating dimension and life. Here’s something to consider for the upcoming season:

The average chickadee consumes 6,000-9,000 caterpillars before they fledge their nest. All of these caterpillars are foraged within a 150-foot radius of their nest. Insects are the base of the food-web & it didn’t take Doug Tallamy, an acclaimed entomologist, long to realize that his own property was void of them. His newly acquired property in PA was a bustle of plants: bittersweet, burning bush, & forests of trees – but those plants went uneaten by caterpillars. Tallamy notes these caterpillars are essential for supporting songbirds, small mammals & reptiles. What’s funny about insects is that they’re specialists who have a narrow diet. With limited food sources, the result is less herbaceous food, less caterpillars, less birds, small mammals and reptiles!

Like Tallamy, we have an opportunity as homeowners to provide pollinators (and thus birds) with more food – linking our yards together, rather than having pollinator-islands. 

Whether your outdoor space is limited to a deck, or larger gardens that support perennials, shrubs, and trees – you can do your part by making your yard an extension of the surrounding ecosystem. Still have your manicured yard & prized non-native possessions, but opt for a container of “Caterpillar Candy,” or choose native plant-specimens between your aesthetically pleasing plants that are pollinator-supporting.

Find plant species that help you homestead responsibly.

Annuals that Support Caterpillars

CATERPILLAR CANDY
Curry
Dill
Parsley
White Clover
Fennel
Mints


Perennials (Natives) that Support Caterpillars

CATERPILLAR CANDY
Anise Hyssop
Aster
Butterfly Weed
Columbine
Evening Primrose
False Indigo
Goldenrod
Hummingbird Mint (Agastache)
Coneflower
Lupine
Mallow
Milkweed
Swamp Milkweed


Nursery Stock (Natives) that Supports Caterpillars

Birch
Oak
Pussy willow
Sweet Clethra


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