Understanding the food web on a basic level will shed light on much of the good your garden brings to you. Unfortunately there may be some gardening problems that turn up you should be aware of, including pests.
Because caterpillars and butterflies will be living
within your garden, they need host plants, nectar sources and other
butterfly food. So...
The pollination process not only creates other vegetation growth, it is also food sources for butterflies, other insects and animals.
Let's start with the food web...
[Note - bold terms are defined in detail at the bottom of page]
Our gardens, our yards and our city parks are all ecosystems.
An ecosystem is a functional community of living and non-living factors all tied-in, creating a circle of nutrition and energy.
It also becomes the predator - prey relationship. Other examples of ecosystems are the desert, rain-forest, grassland and ocean. One very important example to us is the soil food web.
Most ecosystems start with the sun's energy creating photosynthesis. Photosynthesis converts inorganic (dead matter without carbon) into organic (living matter with carbon). The organism that is able to self-develop inorganic to organic is called an autotroph. The autotroph then creates life. In our soil it starts with tiny sprouts becoming a medley of new and different plants... and food.
These new plants are called producers. A producer is able to manufacture its own food with the suns light energy and water. Leaves are designed flat and open so they can absorb energy the suns rays. This is how the plants you want in your garden sustains their own life. Unfortunately, this is why those weeds keep coming back - bummer, eh?
These plants, or producers, can become food for consumers. In the butterfly garden a consumer, such as a caterpillar, eats leaves. Unwelcome consumers in our gardens can be Aphids of Japanese Beetles along with other pests.
This producer - consumer relationship continues up the food chain. Predators who may consume a caterpillar, butterfly or aphid are called secondary consumers.
The good news is that many insects and animals live together helping make your garden a beautiful living oasis. For those insects and animals that are not consumed, nature takes its course and in time they will fade and die.
The cycle starts over where dead, inorganic matter decays and becomes food for decomposers. A decomposer can be bacteria, fungus, sowbug and earthworm. They become the autotroph and produce simple nutrients placing them back into the soil where tiny sprouts start again.
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