Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Explore Outdoors ~ Leaves are Habitat


I did not rake my leaves this year. I know! How slothful of me! But here's the thing: fallen leaves create habitat for any number of tiny creatures. Those leaves provide a winter home for butterfly and moth caterpillars and pupae. Even adults! Here's what Justin Wheeler says on the  XERCES Society blog:

Great spangled fritillary and wooly bear caterpillars tuck themselves into a pile of leaves for protection from cold weather and predators. Red-banded hairstreaks lay their eggs on fallen oak leaves, which become the first food of the caterpillars when they emerge. Luna moths and swallowtail butterflies disguise their cocoons and chrysalises as dried leaves, blending in with the “real” leaves.

Leaves also provide homes for spiders and snails, worms, beetles, and other tiny critters that provide meals for chipmunks, birds, and amphibians. Sure, amphibians aren't fans of frozen dinners, but they appreciate the plump insects that take flight in spring.

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