To protect pollinators, go easy on the fall garden cleanup

phys.org | 9/18/2018 | Staff
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Time to rake up the yard, deadhead the perennials and till the vegetable garden? Not so fast.

Popular opinion is swinging toward letting things stay just as they are through winter—decayed and drab but serviceable.

Yard - Awards - Entomologists - Pollinator - Populations

Displaying a messy yard may not win any good-neighbor awards, but entomologists say our vital but dwindling insect pollinator populations would be much better off.

"People are increasingly recognizing the value of having good habitat throughout the seasons," said Deborah Landau, a conservation ecologist with the Maryland/D.C. chapter of the Nature Conservancy.

Connection - Insects - Garden - Months - Litter

"Sometimes it's hard to make the connection with the insects you see in the garden in the warm months with the dried litter remaining when it cools, but it's important to keep that structure going through winter," Landau said.

Such structure includes standing stalks of dead plants, especially under flower heads, where butterflies seek shelter. It also includes layers of leaf litter that collect to protect larvae, egg masses, hibernating wild bees, dormant spiders and many other beneficial insects.

Bees - Home - Canes - Raspberries - Grasses

"Cavity-nesting bees may have made their home in old canes of raspberries and perhaps some ornamental grasses," said Rebecca Finneran, a consumer horticulture educator with Michigan State University Extension.

"These two items usually are not cleaned up until spring anyway, but they also can be preserved by placing them (upright) in an out-of-the-way location such as behind a compost pile, and the larvae will still hatch.

Thing - Stems

"The main thing is not to destroy the stems," she said.

Pollinator cautions aside, which autumn landscape chores are most important, and which can safely be...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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