- Less than 3% of the original prairies remain.
- From 1999-2010, milkweed populations shrank 58% in the Midwest as agriculture adopted GMO crops that accept mass spraying of weed killer.
- From 1999-2010, monarch egg production dropped by 81% in the Midwest (link here).
- In the winter of 2012-13, monarch numbers in Mexico covered less than 3 acres, the lowest recorded point ever. The monarch migration is endangered and indicative of other struggling wildlife species.
- 1/3 of all the food we eat comes from insect-pollinated crops -- crops dependent on wild populations of insects whose natural habitats are being erased by suburban sprawl and agriculture.
- Since 2008, over 37,000 square miles of prairie, marshes, ponds, and shrub lands have been replaced with row crops.
- Pesticides are the leading cause of grassland bird decline.
- More than 1/3 of fresh water in the U.S. is used to water lawns (lawns outnumber corn fields 3 to 1).
- Over the course of 20 years, one acre of lawn will cost $20,000 to maintain, whereas one acre of native plants will cost $3,000 (and benefit countless species, improve soil, filter pollutants, and cool the area around your home).
You don't have to plant all natives in your landscape, and you shouldn't feel guilty if you don't. However, native plants, properly placed in their accustomed soil and light, can be fairly easy to maintain, and of course have the added bonus of providing not only nectar and berries for wildlife, but food for the larva of many insects. Insects are the base of the food chain in a garden, and the more you have, the greater the diversity, the healthier your landscape, and the more wildlife you'll entice (songbirds for example, which are vanishing at a rate of 1-3% each year as habitat is destroyed). Here is a fantastic summary article on all of the above.
Bringing nature home means increased creativity in children, a healthier environment for kids to play in without the risk of chemicals impairing cognitive development, and speedier recovery from illnesses (this is why hospital patients with views of nature from their windows recover faster -- even time spent outside eases ADHD and learning disabilities). Sometimes, one flower, one bird, or one moment can make all the difference in our lives, and as they will for countless wildlife.