Positively buggy

Dated: August 11 2020

Views: 87

If you know me, you know that I am a big supporter of native plant gardening. To the point where I don't even like to have hybrid varieties of natives in my garden. There are several reasons for this, beyond wanting to make my own life slightly more difficult. Natives are adapted to live where I live, meaning they are better able to provide the right resources to animals who have evolved to also live where I live. They are a good conservation choices, as they are better at reducing water runoff than grass. They also don't take much work once established, which is a great thing if you, like me, prefer lounging on the deck or patio sipping a drink during the summer, rather than constantly mowing and feeding and weeding. Plus, they're just pretty. 

But one other specific reason I became totally committed to natives a few years ago was the reports of an "insect apocolypse." Research had come out that insect species where declining at a dangerous rate. This is an enormous problem, as they are integral to our food supply. So planting natives was not just a personal choice, it was an imperitive to me. 

This article, though, gives me (and all of us) some more hopeful data. A team of scientists and their students, working in the United States, have found  that while some species certainly have declined, many have shown no decline at all. Why the contradictory info to earlier findings? The earlier findings were arrived at using European data. Europe is much more heavily populated than the US, and much of it's land has been intensively used, likely causing insect populations to decline there. This is less true here. The authors of the article also think publication bias--the propensity for journals and sciences journalism to report the more dramatic results of research--may have played a part. In other words, dramatic findings of insect loss were more likely to be published than findings of little change. 

So, good news! Now, I don't think this means everyone should stop worrying about butterflies and bees. As the authors of the article point out, their research isn't the final answer. The more land we use and habitat we take up, the bigger the negative impact we will have on other species. So don't stop planting that milkweed yet! If for no other reason than it helps you get to see things like this in your yard every summer: 

Purple Emporer butterly

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David Pausch

In November of 2000, I closed on my first house, a rough-around-the-edges 1922 colonial with lots of sun, not a lot of storage, and an enormous oak tree in its postage stamp-sized back yard. From the ....

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