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You have probably heard of Doug Tallamy. He has spent the last three decades studying the relationship between native plants and insects. We are fortunate that Tallamy is a Wild Ones Lifetime Honorary Director. If you have heard him speak or read any of his books, you know native plants and insects need each other to survive. You also know those same insects and plants are the basis of the entire food web– supporting wildlife from hummingbirds to hedgehogs to humans.
Doug Tallamy: Still Nature’s Best Hope
“Why are you preaching to the choir?” someone once asked a Chicago area conservation leader. “Because they’re the ones who sing,” he responded sensibly.
Doug Tallamy’s July 9 presentation, which kicked off Wild Ones’ new Honorary Director event series, attracted dedicated chorus members from chapters across the country. But it was also an opportunity to expand the choir with some new voices. The event was free to Wild Ones members and members were encouraged to bring a friend, family member, neighbor or government official along to hear Tallamy’s convincing presentation. Altogether, there were 559 attendees.
If anyone in the audience needed to be inspired – or reinspired – they got what they were looking for. Motivating people to make the change from sterile lawns to life-supporting native plants is what Doug Tallamy does best. Through a combination of humility, humor, logic, and stunning photos that remind you of how beautiful every life form on earth can be, Tallamy makes an irrefutable case for the need for a Homegrown National Park. His call to action is simple. By gradually converting half of the 85% of land that is privately owned to native North American flora, we can not only restore habitat but also provide food for disappearing Native American songbirds, small mammals, reptiles, butterflies, moths and other arthropods.
After noting recent headlines about the “insect apocalypse,” Tallamy, who teaches entomology at the University of Delaware, reminded us what would happens if insects were to disappear:
- Most flowering plants would go extinct
- That would change the physical structure and energy flow of most terrestrial habitats
- Which would cause the rapid collapse of the food web that supports amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals
- The biosphere would rot without insect decomposers
- Humanity would be doomed!
Tallamy and his wife have worked to restore the 10 acres surrounding their home in Pennsylvania over the past 20 years. But he is quick to point out that every plot of land converted, no matter how small, matters because it contributes to the matrix. And he shared several examples of lovingly tended, pocket-size urban gardens that have attracted a rich variety of species.
Whether your plot of land is large or small, the steps to take are the same. The following actions support a landscape full of life:
- Cut your lawn in half
- Plant for specialist bees
- Remove invasive species from your property
- Use keystone plants
- Build a landscape layered with plants
- Put motion sensors on your security lights
- Oppose mosquito spraying
- Minimize insecticide use
- Join your Homeowners Association and change from within
Ever the optimist, Tallamy noted that change is happening. We just have to keep spreading the word. One day the house that will look out of place in the neighborhood is the one surrounded by a vast expanse of lawn and neatly clipped yews.
For more details, view the full webinar by pasting the below link into your browser:
Or read Tallamy’s new book, Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard. https://www.workman.com/products/natures-best-hope.
Watch for details of the next scheduled event in the Wild Ones Honorary Director (HD) series featuring our newest HD, native bee expert Heather Holm, on September 24. https://www.pollinatorsnativeplants.com.
Insects Need Your Help!
Thomas Wood, research associate at Michigan State University, studied bumblebees in Michigan. Half of the most common native bumblebees declined by at least 50% in the last 20 years.
We can’t wait another 20 years to act.
Our world is changing rapidly, and it’s easy to think there’s not much one person can do. But Wild Ones members know there is a lot they can do. We know the native plants we put in our yards, church gardens, schools, parks, migration corridors, and everywhere else hold the key to a better future.
The importance of native plants to life on earth cannot be overstated. Yet, many people still don’t understand that using pesticide-treated seeds, putting weed killer on their lawns, and removing every leaf in fall is killing the insects needed to sustain life.
We Can’t Stop Now
Wild Ones promotes environmentally friendly sound landscaping to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration, and establishment of native plant communities. More people need to hear the message. Wild Ones can’t spread the word without YOU.
With your help, we are branching into new areas. In the past year, new chapters were established in Arkansas, Maryland, and Massachusetts, and membership grew by 16%.
Your support creates native habitat across the country by helping us reach out to more people, educate decision makers, and build a stronger movement. Every contribution makes a difference!
How to Support the Mission
There are two ways you can donate:
- Online at wildones.org
- By check to Wild Ones, 2285 Butte des Morts Beach Rd, Neenah WI 54956
You can grow your donation if your company matches charitable giving. Each year, many people double or even triple their contributions this way. Ask your HR department for more information.
Thank you in advance for your support. You are helping provide a better future for the next generation!