Reading Douglas Tallamy's "Bringing Nature Home" has impacted me in profound ways. It has helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the importance of not only biodiversity, but of using native plants in the home landscape. Prior to reading his book, I knew that native plants were beneficial because they require fewer resources, such as fertilizer and water, to maintain. Dr. Tallamy's book, however, points out their importance in that they serve as hosts for insects in all of their life stages. These insects, in turn, serve as food for other forms of wildlife. My (probably simplistic) understanding of this, essentially, is that if we want to have birds and butterflies in our yards, we need to replace our lawns with plants that, either directly or indirectly, feed them.
I have spent the past couple of summers putting plants in my yard that will appeal to different larvae, as well as the "grown-up" insects they become. It is so gratifying to me to see butterflies flocking to the milkweed in my front yard. They are beautiful to look at, yes -- but even beyond that, providing food for them and their offspring makes me feel connected to nature/science/the universe/God-or-whatever-you-want-to-call-it.
Through my church, I am able to help *people* in my community and the world, but I don't really see the effects of that. Caring for the plants that feed butterflies and their larvae in my yard is something really tangible I can do to help these creatures - and the world.
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