If someone took 75 percent of your food away, you wouldn't be a happy camper. But when you grow the invasive species butterfly bush, and other plants that provide only nectar, that's what you're doing to birds and butterflies in your own backyard. (Here’s more on why butterfly bush gets a well-deserved bad rap.)
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, even the beautiful, seemingly harmless butterfly bush, you're deciding if members of your community's local food web will be nourished or unintentionally starved.
And 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. (Here are 10 more plants you should never, ever grow.)
We turned to Doug Tallamy, PhD, professor and chair of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, to give us the hard truth about butterfly bush.
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