Isn’t it incredible how birds and butterflies know where to migrate to, and that bees communicate with each other through various dance moves? We all enjoy the splendor of colorful birds at our feeders during cold dreary winter days, the magic of fireflies during hot summer nights, the chorus of frogs and melodious bird songs. You can directly influence all of this. Actually, you already do. So let’s talk about the leaves, and I know many of you might start to cringe a little but let me explain the incredible impact you can make by keeping fallen leaves on your property – temporarily – and how it benefits wildlife and the environment.
So what exactly goes on beneath the leaf litter?
- Eastern box turtles, salamanders, toads, and birds rely on leaf litter for food, shelter, and nesting materials.
- Butterfly and moth caterpillars overwinter in fallen leaves before emerging in the spring.
- Insects that are supported by fallen leaves are a critical food source for the birds that we love to see and hear.
- Fallen leaves act as natural mulch which can fertilize the soil and help suppress weeds.
What can you do? Simply leave the leaves where they fall, or rake them into your garden beds until your new clean up time in May. Over the winter, wildlife will benefit from your effortless and impactful action of leaving the leaves.
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”– Chief Seattle
Consider how simple it is to leave the leaves for part of the year; and what an easy approach to support native wildlife.
By Marisa Nelson