96% of birds species rear their young on caterpillars - and baby birds need a lot of caterpillars. It takes an astounding 6,000-9,000 caterpillars for a pair of birds to feed one generation of chicks before they leave the nest. Imagine the responsibility of having to provide fresh caterpillars every three to five minutes, sun up to sun down, for weeks on end!
Native tree species are especially important plants that are home to the caterpillars of butterflies and moths.Unfortunately, many non-native trees and shrubs commonly used in American landscapes are inedible to most caterpillars. Combine this with the fact that there are over 40,000,000 million acres of lawn in the US where there once was forest and prairie, and it’s easy to see that we have created a vast area of landscapes that are devoid of ecological value.
It’s also important that open our mindset about plants and insects. Bugs in the garden are not always bad - in fact, they’re often essential and beneficial! Remember, bugs are bird food.
Plants and the specific insects that feed on them have evolved over thousands of years to co-exist. We must recognize and appreciate this intricate balance of nature. It’s important to be tolerant of the native and beneficial insects feeding on our landscape plants – not destroy precious insect, bird, and pollinator populations by indiscriminate pesticide use.