012-Beneficial Garden Insects – Bringing Nature Home with Doug Tallamy

| Plant, Podcast

When it comes to bringing nature home, no one understands the critical relationships between native plants and the creatures that depend on them better than expert on garden insects, Doug Tallamy Ph.D. A professor at and chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware; Doug is also the author of the best-selling book, Bringing Nature Home.


Doug Tallamy walks his talk when it comes to bringing nature home. His personal landscape is lush with an abundance of native trees and shrubs to support a diverse array of native insect species and other wildlife.


His tireless passion to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how those interactions determine the diversity of animal communities is one of the key driving forces that keeps him in high demand.


Doug’s personal landscape is lush with native plant species. During our two full days together for the filming of episode 620 for Growing a Greener World, Doug was constantly surveying trees and plants for birds and native insects with a camera always at the ready.


Yet our love affair with alien plants, along with unchecked habitat loss to urban sprawl is taking a significant toll on important native plants. In too many areas of the country, there’s no place left for wildlife. By bringing nature home in the landscapes and gardens we ourselves create, we can collectively start to reverse this alarming decline.


This white oak tree in Doug’s front yard is host to hundreds of caterpillar species, critical for providing an essential food source for birds and their young. If you could only plant one tree in your yard, Doug says an oak tree would be your best bet for sustaining wildlife.


Filling your landscape with native plants can provide beauty to you and critical ecosystem function to the native species that depend on them. In fact, Doug says that if you could only plant one tree, an oak tree is perhaps the best choice to support hundreds of native insect species. Native cherry trees are also a good option.

Specifically, oak trees are fantastic hosts to caterpillars. And birds need caterpillars for themselves and especially for their young. Baby birds can’t eat sunflower seeds for example so none of that helps at this most critical point of survival.

Links & Resources

Episode 050: Organic Pest Control: Beneficial Insects And Beyond

Episode 068: Top Predatory Beneficial Insects and How to Attract Them, Pt. 2

Growing a Greener World Episode 620 – Bringing Nature Home. Be sure to watch this episode to see a lot of what Doug refers to in his podcast interview. This episode was filmed at Doug’s house which he uses as his living laboratory.

Bringing Nature Home website

Bringing Nature Home – How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants by Doug Tallamy

The Living Landscape – Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Landscape by Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy. (A great companion book with beautiful pictures to illustrate the concepts Doug and co-author Rick Darke discuss in this book.)

Last Child in the Woods – Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. This is a best-selling book mentioned by Doug in this interview

Best Bets – What to Plant (from Doug Tallamy)

Pollinator-friendly plant list by region from the Xerces Society

Milorganite: Our podcast episode sponsor and Brand Partner of joe gardener®

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About Joe Lamp'l

Joe Lamp’l is the creator and “joe” behind joe gardener®. His lifetime passion and devotion to all things horticulture has led him to a long-time career as one of the country’s most recognized and trusted personalities in organic gardening and sustainability. That is most evident in his role as host and creator of Emmy Award-winning Growing a Greener World®, a national green-living lifestyle series on PBS currently broadcasting in its tenth season. When he’s not working in his large, raised bed vegetable garden, he’s likely planting or digging something up, or spending time with his family on their organic farm just north of Atlanta, GA.

One Response to “012-Beneficial Garden Insects – Bringing Nature Home with Doug Tallamy”

  • Charlotte Adelman says:

    By calling attention to Douglas Tallamy’s ground breaking work you are doing all of us a tremendous service. Homeowners, gardeners, and landscapers can create both beauty and wildlife-productive habitat simply by choosing the herbaceous and woody plants that are native to their region. To help Midwesterners do this, I’ve co-authored two books, “The Midwestern Native Garden-Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants, An Illustrated Guide”, and “Midwestern Native Shrubs and Trees-Gardening Alternatives to Nonnative Species, An Illustrated Guide.”
    Best wishes, Charlotte Adelman

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