by Timothy A. Pearce
Since trees drop leaves every fall, why aren’t we up to our necks in dead leaves?
Thirty-seven people joined me on a series of four walks in Frick Park on April 24 to discover the answer: leaves are consumed by a myriad tiny creatures that turn them back into nutrients so plants can grow again.
Among the tiny creatures we found that consume leaves (and some that consume the leaf-eating creatures) were earthworms, sow bugs, spiders, daddy long legs, millipedes, centipedes, beetles, spring tails, and several species of snails, which are my favorite creatures. After the walks, we scrutinized our finds with magnifying glasses. The weather was sunny and the perfect temperature for walking outside. The children especially enjoyed digging in the soil.
Timothy A. Pearce, PhD, is the head of the mollusks section at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Museum employees are encouraged to blog about their unique experiences and knowledge gained from working at the museum.