In an effort to protect and nurture essential pollinators during winter, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation suggests homeowners leave fallen leaves in their yards.
According to the organization, numerous insects, including moth and butterfly caterpillars, utilize these leaves for warmth, shelter, and sustenance. Some insects, like stick bugs and red-banded hairstreak butterflies, even lay eggs in the leaves, offering freshly hatched caterpillars an immediate food source.
While leaving the leaves can benefit invertebrates, an abundance can harm grass. To find a balance, the Xerces Society advises relocating leaves to garden beds, around tree trunks, or specific sections in the yard. These strategically placed leaves not only support pollinators but also enhance soil quality and inhibit weed growth.
For optimal protection, it’s best to use whole leaves, either raked or blown, instead of those shredded by mowers. To ensure the survival of insects during colder seasons, it’s recommended to clear the previous autumn’s leaves only after the final frost, typically around late May.
The Xerces Society, a leading international nonprofit, is dedicated to the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. For more on their initiatives and how to assist in invertebrate conservation, one can visit the organization’s official website.
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