One of the most important things we can do to protect pollinators and other invertebrates is to provide the winter covering they need to thrive, and yet this seems to be the hardest thing for us to do.

The annual leaf collection saddens me each year. The village spends thousands and thousands of dollars on leaf collection, and we have noise and gas pollution. Why do we do it? Habit? Social conditioning? A habit from our parents’ message that if you take care of your property, it must be neat and leaf-free?

Most butterflies overwinter in our lawns in the form of egg, caterpillar, chrysalis or adult. Leaves are also “free mulch” enriching the soil for next year.

Treating leaves like trash — taking it out to the curb — takes all the butterflies and moths we spent all year trying to attract.

Rake in late spring.
Leave the leaves!

Roberta Jannsen
Master naturalist
Oak Park

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