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Garden Allies: Moths

Articles: Garden Allies: Moths

[sidebar]I am often asked why my insect garden 
is so full of birds; the answer, of course, 
is that birds relish insects! [/sidebar]

Butterfly gardens have grown in popularity. 
Gardeners who once looked askance at including food plants for caterpillars now eagerly seek out information on larval host plants. Butterflies and moths belong 
to the order Lepidoptera, however, moths remain sadly neglected in the Lepidopteran garden, even 
though over 95 percent of Lepidoptera species are moths. Gardeners who plan for biodiversity include native plants in their landscapes, and those who 
refrain from using pesticides invariably develop 
“moth gardens”—otherwise known as “bird banquet gardens.” Many species of moth larvae are critical bird food, especially in the spring when birds are seeking high-protein, nutritious food for their young.

Tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata). Illus: Craig Latker

Although some moth species are among our worst horticultural and agricultural pests, many are well 
camouflaged—both as adults and as larvae—and damage is often difficult to detect. Birds are essential to control...

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