Go Easy and BEE Friendly with your Fall Clean-up
There are many bees, butterflies, moths, caterpillars and other beneficial insects that need the protection of leaves, plant debris, stick piles or cavities in logs in order to make it through the winter. A traditional manicured lawn, carefully raked of all leaves and “yard waste” does not provide any of these things.
As we learned from Judy Cardin at our Garden Open House, the new Bumblebee “queen”, or gyne, is the only bee from her nest that survives through the winter and starts a new nest. She usually burrows under a few inches of leaves or loose soil. Mourning Cloak butterflies overwinter as adults under similar cover. Some butterflies and moths hide their chrysalids or cocoons in dead leaf litter. Other insects hide out or lay their eggs in in hollow or pith-filled stems and stalks.
Try these insect and pollinator-friendly practices
We can do our part to help the survival of beneficial insects, and still neaten up our yards and gardens.
Gently rake your leaves into loose layers over your garden beds, or under trees and shrubs. Leave the leaf blower in the shed, your neighbors will thank you!
Leave some tall stems and plants up, they will provide winter interest and seed heads for the birds.
If you must cut down dead stalks, leave them at 12 to 18 inches high, for winter protection and next year’s nests. Pile the cut stalks in a back corner for more insect cover.