Newton Conservators logo fall photo of Sawmill Brook
 
 

Newton Conservators Annual Meeting
May 2, 2012

American Legion Post 440
295 California Street, Newtonville map

6pm - Social gathering and hors d'oeuvres; 7pm - Dinner; 8pm - Program

Invitations have arrivedin the mailboxes of Newton Conservators members, or you may

buy tickets online.

RSVP by April 18th!

 

Please join us at our annual dinner on May 2.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Douglas Tallamy, professor and Chair of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, and author of the wonderful book "Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens."

In his book, Professor Tallamy reviews how the plant world is the crucial base that converts the sun's energy into food energy and how plant diversity supports insect diversity, which in turn supports the diversity of bird and other animal species.

We all know that bird food comes in bags and is cracked corn and sunflower seeds, right? You may have a different view if you treat yourself to reading Dr. Tallamy's book. The chapter that is titled "What Does Bird Food Look Like?" contains photo after photo of amazing native insects and their sometimes disgusting eggs and larvae. Those insects, he says, are crucial food for our native songbirds.

He studies the ability of insects to propagate on and to eat native and nonnative plants and explains why our important native insect species usually are not able to thrive (or even to survive) on nonnative plants. His tenet is that development, along with the common landscaping trap of pristine lawn plus ornamental shrubs, is destroying crucial habitat for insects. He argues that we must protect habitat and actively choose to landscape our yards with native plants that will sustain and save our insects, our birds, and our planet. Then, he provides helpful native plant lists for our region.

Whenever the Newton Conservators get a grant request for the ever-popular school Butterfly Garden, I share with them Prof. Tallamy's warning: "When designing a butterfly garden, you need two types of plants: species that provide nectar for adults, and species that are host plants for butterfly larvae. Most people focus only on the plants that produce nectar. Even worse, they often turn to alien plants that are promoted as being good for butterflies, the most popular of which, hands down, is the butterfly bush (Buddleja species). Planting butterfly bush in your garden will provide attractive nectar for adult butterflies, but not one species of butterfly in North America can use buddleias as larval host plants. To have butterflies, we need to make butterflies. Butterflies used to reproduce on the native plants that grew in our yards before the plants were bulldozed and replaced by lawn. To have butterflies in our future, we need to replace those lost host plants, no if's, and's or but's. If we do not, butterfly populations will continue to decline with every new house that is built."

Bringing Nature Home is a wonderful combination of basic science, scholarly research and results, frightening implications, amusing stories, and practical land management and planting tips. Most of all it is eye-opening and inspiring. After reading the book, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Tallamy speak at the Cambridge Public Library: the large auditorium was packed, and the audience was riveted by his captivating photos, his astounding research, his dry wit and lively delivery.

I encourage you to read the book for yourselves and to come to hear Dr. Tallamy speak on May 2. (A small number of books will be on sale at the annual meeting.)

Katherine Howard

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