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Old 07-11-2009, 11:22 PM   #1
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Default "Bringing Nature Home" in practice.

I read Doug Tallamie's book "Bringing Nature Home" a while back, maybe three years ago, and loved it. So I have my garden full of native plants now and though I'd start a topic on how successful it's been so far.

First year all I got were Monarchs.

Second year I got Monarchs, Giant Leopard Caterpillars, and Woolly Bear Caterpillars. Something unknown and huge eating my corn, and maybe one or two others eating the flowers to things here and there. Brown-Hooded Owlet on an Aster.

Third year isn't over yet and I have a lot more caterpillars than I know the names to. The majority of them are inchworms. My blog goes into a bit more detail and has a lot more pictures. Some of the highlights though are pictured below. Blog Post.

The one on the blueberry must have been suicidal. THIS must be what a bird's lucky day looks like.

I'm finding a lot of caterpillars don't actually eat the leaves as one might expect in all the classic examples. A good deal of them focus on the flowers or eat the plant internally through the hollow stalks. This is something I wish was mentioned somewhere because often times the caterpillar is prettier than the Lepidoptera it turns into.

I discovered a cocoon to ... well I'm not even sure, but it was on the Liatris.

On one of our Sunflowers I was happy to find a caterpillar nibbling a window right through a leaf.

I didn't even know Stoke's Aster was a host plant. It's actually not native this far north, but something, that doesn't know the meaning of the word camouflage certainly likes eating it.

So what caterpillars, or interesting bugs, have you all gotten from your gardens that you can attribute to a certain plant?
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"Bringing Nature Home" in practice.-caterpillarblueberry.jpg   "Bringing Nature Home" in practice.-caterpillarconeflower.jpg   "Bringing Nature Home" in practice.-liatriscocoon.jpg   "Bringing Nature Home" in practice.-leafwithaview.jpg   "Bringing Nature Home" in practice.-stokesastercaterpillar.jpg  

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Old 07-11-2009, 11:24 PM   #2
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Very cool! It's interesting to see gardening *for* insects.
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Old 07-11-2009, 11:54 PM   #3
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"All" he got were monarchs... sheesh.
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Old 07-14-2009, 01:10 AM   #4
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MrILoveTheAnts-
Great photos and some interesting links.

I really like your BLOG!!! Lots of intersting information and I enjoyed reading the observations you documented. The variety of insects you have attracted is awesome! And then demonstrating how those insects attract other insects, birds and wildlife. You've created the "food chain" and documented it with photos and commentary in your blog in a easily understandble educational manner.

Are you a beekeeper? Read some stuff on your BLOG that made me think you are one.

Also, gotta give you big kudos for mentioning the Wildlife Gardeners Forum in your Blog. Very nice of you to do that!

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Old 07-14-2009, 01:31 AM   #5
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I subscribed to your BLOG. Too much good information and I don't want to miss any of your posts.

So how are you doing with locating plants that produce "purple fruits?"
I have grapes and blueberries like you. I also have native blackberries that are purple. Have you found anything else worthwhile?

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Old 07-14-2009, 08:16 AM   #6
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I love elderberries myself.
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Old 07-14-2009, 10:02 AM   #7
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I don't know a lot of the "bugs" but two plants that host a lot of insects in my yard are the native thistles (Cirsium discolor - prairie thistle and C. muticum - swamp thistle). They are loaded with flowers that the nectar and pollen feeders enjoy. And there are a lot of insect herbivores that use it for food.

Both are 6+ feet tall and make nice specimen plants. And they don't try to take over the yard like the non-native invasive thistles. There are fewer thorns on the native thistles; and the foliage and thorns of the natives have a much softer texture. I can actually use the softness as an ID characteristic in my area. You can take hold of a native thistle leaf and pull your hand across it without the pain that is associated with most thistles. (Of course, if you are unsure about the ID, have the other person do the first test. Use your hand for a confirmation if they think it is a native. ).

Cirsium**** discolor: UW-Stevens Point Freckmann Herbarium: Plant Details Page
Cirsium**** muticum: UW-Stevens Point Freckmann Herbarium: Plant Details Page
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Old 07-14-2009, 01:23 PM   #8
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I haven't found to many plants with purple fruit that I might consider edible. I have a 5 in 1 fruit tree that includes plums on it, but it's fairly new. The only other thing I have now is a Blue Muffin Viburnum but I'd just planted it this year, it took three months just to produce leaves, but is leafing out nicely now. I would be surprised if it flowered next year. When it starts showing off I'll have pictures of it, but that's a year or so away.

I was going to get a Black Cherry Tree which is so highly prized in "Bringing Nature Home" but then I realized there's one behind my house, just not in my yard. There's a very small patch of forest that everyone's back yard shares on my block. It doesn't touch my yard though so I don't go back there much. (Drug dealer, the women who hates bees, the old couple with a million cats have it in their yard's.)

Yes I am a beekeeper. I have 4 Honey Bee hives, but I always put out lots of mason bee blocks, which also get mason wasps. I've been hoping for leaf cutter bees but so far nothing. I put out Bumblebee boxes too, which are just bird houses with 3/4th inch hole and viewing window with a cover. But so far nothings taken to them.

At any rate I don't consider the diversity of pollinators a true sigh of how things are doing.

This year though I have seen a drastic drop in bumblebees, and haven't seen any swallowtail butterflies at all. This time last year I recall seeing swallowtails regularly, but the Joe Pye Weed has yet to bloom, so we'll see what happens. I always advocate Joe Pye Weed over Butterfly Bush because B. Bush always blooms a month to early.

Whatever these inchworms become I certainly have a lot of them. I just wish I knew what they became.

This is also the first year I've seen tree hoppers. As well an assortment of beetles I never saw before.
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"Bringing Nature Home" in practice.-masonwasptiny.jpg   "Bringing Nature Home" in practice.-masonwasppotter.jpg   "Bringing Nature Home" in practice.-masonbeestill.jpg   "Bringing Nature Home" in practice.-camponotustreehopper.jpg   "Bringing Nature Home" in practice.-weevel.jpg  

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Old 07-14-2009, 06:20 PM   #9
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A very nice male mason bee photo you have there.
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Old 07-14-2009, 09:09 PM   #10
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I really enjoy seeing hummingbird moths such as Snowberry clearwings. I see them most often using bee-balm as a nectar plant, although I've seen them using other plants too. I've see Lonicera (honeysuckle) listed as a larval food, so I’m wondering if they can use the Lonicera sempervirens (native honeysuckle) we have growing.
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