Friday, April 17, 2009

What's the Buzz on Spicebush?

While the exotic but non-invasive forsythia blooms bright yellow in residential areas, the native spicebush is coloring the floodplains of natural areas with a subtler shade of yellow.

Pause long enough to take a close look at the spicebush shrubs and you're likely to find them abuzz with skittish flies of various sizes. The smaller ones allowed me to photograph them, but I had no luck getting a focused photograph of any of the other kinds.

These and other entries this year will focus in on how wildlife is served, or not, by the plant life in Princeton's preserves. Insects play a big role in making the solar energy captured by plants available to other wildlife such as birds. Though birds eat seeds and berries, they rely on insects for a critical part of their diet, particularly during spring breeding season.

Many insects, however, have not developed appetites for the many invasive species that have been introduced to this continent over the last several hundred years. These exotic plants, then, as they displace native species, may be depriving wildlife of the edible plants they need to survive. It's a compelling argument, and it will be interesting this spring to see how it plays out in the fields, and forests, of Princeton.

No comments:

Post a Comment