What’s the buzz here? Who loves bugs? I don’t think there are too many hands up? What do you think of first when someone talks about bugs? Are they just pests, like ants in the cupboard, mosquitos at night that drive us inside or a hairy spider in the potato bin? Who are the helpers?
Some admittedly have good reputations, like the butterfly and moth species. We set up Monarch and butterfly gardens. We’re concerned about losing our honey bees and become alarmed when we are informed that they are still dying off. And some don’t, like spiders and other creepy crawlers critters. Yet most of our bugs are beneficial.
But, did you know there are so many more bees, a few thousand native to the USA? More are specialists bees which means they live, eat, shelter, then die by one plant. If we take that one plant away, through housing development, parking lots and urban construction we take them away too. Well, we do. And these bugs, insects are disappearing at an alarming rate. We just need a little bit of education to understand who helps what.
My podcast guest this week, Doug Tallamy, author, and lecturer, a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 89 research publications and has taught Insect Taxonomy, Behavioral Ecology, Humans and Nature, Insect Ecology, and other courses for 36 years. As a ‘bug’ expert he stresses over and over how important our yards are, our property. With some effort, 4.4. we can create biodiverse landscapes that support these at-risk species which strengthen and supports all
2. Biodiversity: add more plants to your yard. Remove a portion of lawn ( which destroys the integrity of our watersheds) and try something new and different. 90% flowering plants rely on pollinators for food. Add more native flowering plants and you support local pollinator populations. The problem we face today is that we have changed our lawns and gardens into more sterile spaces where our native insects and pollinators cannot thrive. They simply have not had enough time to evolve to the newcomers in the neighborhood.
3. We continue to lose carbon from tillage practices. Adding plants in and around garden beds, vegetable beds supports an amazing underground system: fungi, microbial insects, and critters that lend support to each other, a hidden network of communication beneath our feet. And it’s on the rise.( Tillage and plowing practices are the major causes of soil erosion around the world. Can we do this too in home gardens? Yes. We placed leaf and compost material on our beds last fall. Today we are gently removing some of it and planting our seeds manually without the use of tilling.
4. We know moths come around at night, attracted to light? Did you know when outdoor sensor lights are left on all night they actually harm moths? I didn’t know this. The solution? Put these security lights on sensors.
Thanks to the Master Gardener Program, (state university run, in most states) and research such as Doug Tallamy’s, I have developed a new respect for bugs. They are invaluable to the structure and complexity of our ecosystem strength. Destroying them will cost us in the long run.
Earth Day reminds us how important our Earth is, on all levels and how invaluable all species are to sustaining strong healthy environments. What are you doing for Earth Day? What one new suggestion can you incorporate into your property? I would love to hear your ideas. Send a short story or two and we’ll repost them, pass them around, share ideas and innovation.
So, what’s the buzz for Earth Day? Don’t forget to value bugs. They need us to maintain habitat, decrease lawn and add more natural scapes. With understanding and respect for their contributions, we can be sustainable for future generations.