There has been much debate in the past concerning the state of one’s garden over the winter months. Should perennials be removed or pruned up before the winter season sets in? Should gardeners remove leaves and other plant waste from their gardens once it becomes too cold for plants to grow? Do insects benefit when homeowners leave garden debris undisturbed? The thinking used to be that cleaning gardens before the winter months set in was ideal. Removing leaves, pruning perennials and applying mulch to gardens was the best way to prepare a garden before the first frost of the year. However, lately experts have been preaching the opposite. Nowadays, much more is known about backyard ecology, and how the state of a garden can affect insects and wildlife. There has also been an increase in the popularity of insect preservation, and more people are striving to become citizen scientists. These citizen scientists prefer to leave their backyards in as natural a state as possible in order to observe and capture certain insect specimens that are sought after by professional scientists. Some citizen scientists even hope to discover a new insect or spider species within their own backyards. However, leaving gardens and backyards in their natural state is beneficial for insects and spiders. Even if you hate creepy-crawlies, the rapid decline in insect populations should convince you to take whatever measures possible to preserve insect life.
Keeping a garden that is hospitable to native bees is of particular importance given the significant decline in bee populations around the world. Bees are the worlds most active pollinators, so their existence is crucial to the maintenance of a stable ecosystem. Avoid removing leaves, as bees can overwinter and lay their eggs by finding shelter underneath leaves. Bees also overwinter beneath perennial stems and other plant waste. In addition to bees it is important to maintain a habitat for ladybugs. Ladybugs consume many damaging insect pests. Once spring rolls around, and a garden once again becomes fertile, ladybugs may have destroyed many of the insects that gardeners despise.
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