30 July 2012

Why My Hood Needs More Coral Honeysuckle

We have but one coral honeysuckle vine, Lonicera sempervirens, in the garden. About a month ago, there was a snowberry clearwing moth laying her eggs all over it, and over the past months the resulting caterpillars have almost completed devoured the vine. The results can be seen above. Nary a leaf is left!

Those caterpillars also recently retreated into their little crypts in the ground and pupated. They are now emerging quickly as adults. Here is one that is just drying its wings before taking a first flight.

Within hours, there were females laying eggs again on the very few remaining leafs left on our vine. Those caterpillars will most certainly not make it to adulthood. There are simply not enough leaves left to feed even one caterpillar.

What does this mean? We need more coral honeysuckle vines folks! Look at the beautiful moth that these plants provide for. I may try to figure out how to integrate a couple more into my garden, but space is limited. This is a great example of how we can collectively help wildlife by creating larger ecosystems for them across our neighborhoods in effort to replace little habitat islands with a larger patchwork to replace what is now missing.

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