Insects don't need native plants?

in my opinion, anything that isn’t a flat monoculture of bluegrass is great progress. we should encourage gardeners to plant anything that isn’t actively invasive in their area.

an economy and a culture that punishes farmers for diversifying their crops, and city officials who prioritize unending expansion over ecological responsibility, are far more impactful.

let people learn to love plants and nature, even when that means manicured rose beds and carefully groomed shrubbery with nary a native or naturalized species in sight. call me a cynic, but we need all the allies we can get.

of course, if you have the resources to plant all native or naturalized species, providing microbiomes and habitat for diverse species, please do so! It helps more than you know!


I haven’t even heard of the term “nativist” until yesterday. Is this a term gardenrant made?

I will have to look him up! Lots of native plants are indeed useful for people too, to eat, or just to spark joy, like how my mom loves rudbeckia and any native hedgerow-type plants instantly brighten my day.

It seems like a losing battle. Probably best for him to just leave them to think what they want and to be proactive instead.

Exactly. THIS.You can’t just say something is ‘all or nothing’ or ‘black and white’ with the natural sciences. Really there is so much nuance.


eww Googling tells me ‘nativist’ is against human immigrants.

Don’t waste any effort on Gardenrant. Their filter bubble is anti wildflowers and insects, unless eye candy butterflies and song birds.

If you are looking for me, I will be on Doug Tallamy’s side.


Don’t worry, it’s a nonsense statement. Albeit one a lot of people believe. The increase in extreme weather will be more prominent than the warming, as we have already seen. Thus plants moving north/up will be limited by that. Here in Vermont it still gets down way below zero and will continue to do so even with several degrees of warming. Say we warm 5C which is pretty catastrophic, right? Increases in extremes will be more than 5C. It will be 100f+ in the summer which is hotter than we get now, but will also be -20f in the winter sometimes still. So we arent exactly going to be getting palm trees. The native species to this location and nearby locations will be most suited to deal with the extremes. We have to just discourage people from intentionally introducing invasive ruderals in some sort of survival attempt that won’t work.


It’s basically a colonalist term. Those who say ‘nativist’ believe that ‘might makes right’ and that species introduced from other areas are somehow superior if they take over. They aren’t, they just don’t have their predators, and are often ruderals. It’s easy to see how this attitude links directly to colonialism, and it’s pretty gross.

Sure there are people who take the native plant thing too far, we can’t use only locally native plants for everything, because we rely on some particular cultivated crops. And having some peonies in your garden or whatever isn’t murdering all the bees as long as you have other stuff too. The science of what is or isn’t native is complicated, and invasiveness matters way more than nativeness (they aren’t the same!) But, the ‘love the invasives’ push is pretty gross. It’s also not new, it’s been around at least 10-20 years.

No matter how reasonable something is, someone will be opposed to it.


Oh geez, so they are using a term inappropriately too. And yes, I’ll just leave them alone, reading anymore of their stuff is likely to annoy me anyways.


Vermont has options to move to a kinder climate.

Fynbos can’t go South. South Atlantic Ocean. Can’t go up much Table Mountain is only 1087 metres high. Inland over the mountains quickly becomes the semi-desert Great Karoo. This is, the end of the line for Cape fynbos. We can creep up the mountains along the East Coast. West Coast, dry Namakwaland then the Namib desert.

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well my point is that things moving won’t necessarily even happen. It isn’t just as simple as moving north/south or up, because the extremes can still lead to extreme cold, and extremes in precipitation are getting more extreme.


A paper looking at diversification rates in galling vs non-galling insects found that the galling insects were more host-specific than their non-galling relatives: Gall-induction in insects: evolutionary dead-end or speciation driver?
I worked on native gall-inducing scale insects in Australia for my PhD thesis and they can only induce galls on Eucalyptus (not other eucalypts such as Corymbia or Angophora), and different species have a close association with one or several closely-related species of Eucalyptus. No species can induce galls across different subgenera either.


Which makes one wonder how they became invasive.

It’s not that birds never feed on the fruit of invasive plants, but the point is they show a preference for native fruits in general. Because invasives likely have other factors in their favor (e.g., reduced herbivory, competitive advantage, etc.), they may spread more prolifically even with reduced seed dispersal.

Another possibility, using an anecdotal example, I often see Cedar Waxwings feeding on privet berries in abundance, but I rarely see other species feeding on privet. So select species of birds that are very abundant can have a disproportionate affect at spreading seeds of invasives, either because they are abundant generalist and eat everything or because these select species do show a preference for invasives. It’s worth noting that Cedar Waxwings were not listed in the species sampled of that study (not because they were purposely excluded, just because of some of the logistics of how they obtained birds to collect fecal samples from).

Note: both of the above are pure speculation and should be taken as such.

Also worth mentioning, there have been some other studies (unfortunately can’t re-locate them right off the bat) that have looked at nutrient content of native vs non-native fruit. In general, North American native plants provide better nutrition (more fats, carbohydrates, and micronutrients) to birds than North American invasive plants. Note: I say “in general”, because there are always exceptions and people love to use the exceptions to disprove the rule, despite the cliché saying otherwise.


Snag a few quick picpics since i drove by today - it was even more colorful a week ago but a few things have gone to seed already.

And the goldenrod is just starting up, so this will probably look even more different in a few weeks.

Old golf corse, can you believe it?


OMG this is gorgeous, thank you for taking the time in your day to get a few photos!

You’re welcome!

There is a lot of QAL in the field and that’s listed as a noxious weed in Ohio (I think,) but tbh it could be a lot worse.

Edit: info about the park


This comment makes it sound like our Asian species have fewer fats, carbs, etc. while in North America (non-native) than while in Asia (native) and your North American species have fewer fats, carbs, etc. while in Asia (non-native) than while in North America (native). Am I understanding that correctly?


Ah, no. I should have worded that differently, and I’ve edited my original post slightly for clarity. I am referring to a specific suite of highly-prevalent, fruiting plants that are invasive in North America (e.g., privets, non-native honeysuckles, barberries, etc.). I suspect the nutritional value of these fruits are similar in their native ranges, but my speculation is those plants in combination with the other native plants of those regions provide a balanced diet to the frugivores there that have coevolved with those plants.

To provide an example of the reverse, American Beautyberry has relatively nutrient-poor fruits. Here, beautyberry rarely if ever dominates a landscape as a monoculture. The fruits are eaten supplementally by birds in general and not as a mainstay. If we imagine this plant becoming invasive somewhere else and crowding out natives, the species is not providing the same nutrient content of the native plants it’s replacing.

Here is one study I was remembering: The Value of Native and Invasive Fruit-Bearing Shrubs for Migrating Songbirds


Misapplication of the term “nativist” seems to be a common trope for those irritated by habitat restoration projects. In northern California, we have a problem that well-intentioned landowners of the 19th and 20th centuries planted large stands of Eucalyptus globulus. These blue gum trees have shaded out most of the native vegetation below them and created dark monoculture forests that are also alarmingly prone to fire. The species also resprouts energetically from the stumps of felled trees.

Land managers and fire agencies have come up with lots of careful plans to cut back or thin Eucalyptus and replace it with a more diverse mix of native vegetation that will support a richer native ecosystem. Unfortunately, the Eucalyptus have been present long enough that people grew up with these forests and have a strong attachment to them. (Admittedly, they look impressive and smell great.) This has made for some vitriolic verbal attacks on city planners and anyone else that chooses to speak in favor of restoration projects.

The general line is that proponents of habitat restoration projects have a “nativist agenda” in which supporting native wildlife somehow equates to intolerance for immigrants. As an immigrant myself, and one with rather progressive political views, it’s quite frustrating to be painted as a xenophobe by people trying to sway the views of a parks superintendent or county supervisor.

One consolation is that these people can sometimes undermine themselves with their own hyperbole. I remember listening at a public meeting to an impassioned denunciation of the “nativist agenda”. The speaker ended with a confident statement that our region’s frequent fog turned Eucalyptus stands into “cloud forests” that were impervious to wildfire. I got the impression that the decision makers were very aware of just how flammable Eucalyptus have proven in local wildfires and were unlikely to give the speaker’s opinions on “nativism” much credence either.

But I think the success of this myth of a “nativist agenda” highlights the ongoing need to communicate the reasons behind every restoration project and the benefits that people will see. If the majority of people can be convinced that they’ll like the results of restoration, the ridiculousness of equating native species with “nativist” politics will be self-evident.


Tom Wessels has a very interesting video on YouTube called The Ecology of Coevolved Species which does a brief dive into the topic. I would like to point out invasive insects don’t always need their native host plants. Emerald ash borer, spotted lanternfly (although there are plenty of their preferred Tree of Heaven here in the U.S.) Asian longhorned beetle, European elm bark beetles, etc. come to mind. Speaking to the original topic though, it’s such a nuanced issue as to make any blanket statement about it dubious to say the least. When we lost the American chestnuts, the chestnut bee population cratered but they persisted in small numbers on introduced Asian chestnut trees. In the case of species being introduced beyond their native range, like the widely planted and naturalized black locust, many pollinators found their springtime blooms to be highly beneficial.


Thanks for the clarification. The initial remark read as much broader than this comment about a specific group of non-native plants in a particular geographic context. Also, I appreciate you taking the time to find and link the study you had in mind!


Swap your Eucalyptus for the pine plantation at Tokai - and those same arguments have been rolled out here since I was at school.
People LOVE the pine ‘forest’ at Tokai. Those straight lines of planted same age same species trees make for wonderful forest photos :rofl: