Tags: Ecology Environment
If someone took 75 percent of your food away, you wouldn't be happy. When you plant plants that provide nectar only, including invasive plants like butterfly bush, that's what you're doing to birds and butterflies in your own backyard.
A leading wildlife ecologist wants you to start thinking about your property, no matter how big or small, as an important link in your local ecosystem. It's no exaggeration to say that when you choose which plants to include in your garden, you're deciding if members of your community's local food web will be nourished or unintentionally starved.
To get to that mind frame, which is a way of thinking that truly benefits nature, including its butterflies, you're going to have to come to a harsh realization: You need to stop planting the butterfly bush - forever.
Butterfly Bush Problem #1: It doesn't stay in your yard. Butterfly Bush is an invasive plant, meaning it outcompetes and crowds out beneficial native plants that have been naturally growing in your community for centuries. Native to Asia, butterfly bush readily spreads and takes over space where native plants, the ones naturally selected to nourish the local food web (the birds, butterflies and moths most people love to watch in their yards), would normally thrive. In fact, Buddleja davidii has life history traits that make it invasive in most environments.
Butterfly Bush Problem #2: It doesn't really benefit butterflies. Instead of being sucked in by butterfly bush's beauty, start making the connection between plants, butterflies and other members of the food web. Work more native host plants into your landscape such as butterfly weed, other milkweeds, joe-pye weed and oak trees.
Butterfly Bush Problem #3: It's contributing to the collapse of food webs. Nonnative plants support less than a quarter of the species of insects native plants support and those insects drive food webs. Most birds need caterpillars, not berries, to feed their young.