We're asking waterway visitors to protect the hidey-holes of hibernating creepy crawlies
Our appeal comes as many of the UK’s declining insect populations enter into hibernation for the winter.
Piles of autumn leaves, especially under hedgerows, provide excellent hibernating spots for some of the country’s best loved bugs, including ladybirds, bumblebees and beetles, who rely on finding safe havens to avoid the winter cold.
Habitat loss is believed to have contributed to the sharp decline in insect numbers across the UK, reported to have decreased by up to 60% in some areas.
"Many of our important insect populations also need somewhere to hunker down for winter." Laura Mullholland
Laura Mullholland, ecologist at the Canal & River Trust, said: “When we talk about hibernation, most people think about hedgehogs and bats, but many of our important insect populations also need somewhere to hunker down for winter.
"They’re looking for somewhere warm, sheltered and where they won’t be disturbed, and piles of leaves or untamed undergrowth are pretty tempting for them. Unfortunately at this time of year, piles of leaves are also pretty tempting to us – either in giving them a kick about or trying to tidy them up.
“Autumn is a fantastic time to be out by the canal, and we’ve all got great memories of watching the leaves change colour, drop, and then chucking them about a bit – all great family fun we wouldn’t miss out on for the world. But where we can safely leave them be – off the beaten path and under hedgerows for example – insects will be able to make the most of them too.”