Get the bugs out


To the Editor:

Last year I wrote a Letter to the Editor urging homeowners, landscapers, and gardeners to go green — urging them to stop purchasing pesticides, or products such as fertilizers, seed mixes, and plants that come with pesticides already in them, and to ask nursery or garden shops to carry only pesticide-free plants and supplies.

I am still firm in my belief that pesticides cause a profound imbalance in our food chain and make our homes and gardens unhealthy for humans, pets, and wildlife.

This year I’d like to amend my message to include: Go native. In July, I read a wonderful article by Kristin Andres in the Cape Cod Chronicle called “Butterfly Bush Be Gone,” about how native plants support our native insects and wildlife and how non-native plants actually starve our native insects and wildlife.

I wondered how that worked, and saw it happen in my own garden last year when, after planting native and very beautiful marsh milkweed, and regular milkweed, I got aphids, ladybugs, milkweed bugs, and monarchs, a whole little ecosystem, just by growing two native plants.

I will be planting extra seeds; if any of you want to try your own milkweed, butterfly weed, or marsh milkweed, email me your phone number at

Also be aware there is a relatively new category of pesticides called “neonicotinoids” or “neonics.” They are thought by many to be more dangerous chemicals than DDT, and one cause of bee colony collapse. And, yes, you too can buy these pesticides locally, and plants that have been treated with them.

Speaking with the owners and buyers of some of the local stores both on the Cape and on Martha’s Vineyard, I get a real sense that many would like to go green, and might even go a little native if they weren’t afraid of losing customers.

In other words, it is up to us as customers to request pesticide-free shops and plants and products and landscapers. And it is up to us to request and plant native plants when possible. Go green, go native, learn to love bugs.

Suzanna Nickerson