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Are Blueberries Native to your Area?

Are blueberries native to your area? Photo credit:
Are blueberries native to your area? Photo credit:

I love blueberries. They are one of the native plants in our area (North Carolina) and they are an ecological food source for a wide spectrum of species including: humans, insects, birds, and other mammals. Some birds include: “bluebirds, cardinals, catbirds, robins, mockingbirds, mourning doves and wild turkeys.” Some mammals include: “Squirrels, mice, opossums skunks, bears, deer, foxes, and chipmunks.”

Insects Love Blueberries

Some insects that use blueberries include: “stem borers, thrips, tip borers, aphids, leafhoppers, spiders, fire ants, stink bugs, leaf-footed bugs, maggots, bud mite, leaf beetles, flea beetles, and yellow-necked caterpillars.”

Natural Blueberry Ecosystem

Blueberries can be found in the wild or added to your home garden to be enjoyed by everyone that visits. “Just like the unique role the berries play in our bodies, the bushes that blueberries grow upon fill a unique ecosystem niche.  In the wild, blueberries and their huckleberry relatives grow on forest edges where they receive a lot of sunlight.  And so the blueberry (and huckleberry) is essential to the survival of many wildlife species, especially the beloved black bear.”

When to Plant Blueberries

“We plant many varieties that fruit at different times during the season for two reasons.  In considering how to grow blueberries, we first want to maximize pollination and therefore fruit production.  Second, we, like the black bear, want to snack on fresh blueberries for longer than two or three weeks each year.”

I have found that when I planted my blueberry bushes everyone told me to throw nets around them to keep them self from birds that will eat all the blueberries before I get a chance to. I also read an article that talks about netting to protect commercial berries from birds. I believe this creates a negative effect on our local ecosystem when fruits that need to be pollinated are not given access to the very creatures that help to naturally do this (bees, ants, butterflies, etc). Also, when nature (birds) and other creatures are allowed to share in the bounty they encourage the plant to continue producing.


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