I first encountered the #leavetheleaves hashtag a couple of years ago through the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and I’m pleased to see that it–and awareness about fallen leaves’ ecological role–has spread in popularity since then. I’ve tried to share some of the most convincing reasons to not rake or blow your leaves in autumn, from protecting wildlife to saving money to having one less chore to deal with. If your HOA, household members or other entities put pressure on you, at least see if you can just make a leaf pile in the corner of the yard instead of sending all those nutrients to the landfill in plastic yard bags.

Species portrayed: Sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red maple (Acer rubrum), silver maple (Acer sacchinarium), white oak (Quercus alba), fork-tailed bush katydid (Scudderia furcata), rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa), golden-mantled ground squirrel (Callospermophilus lateralis), isabella tiger moth (Pyrrharctica isabella)