To Help Feed Pollinators, Many Concerned Citizens Take Part in ‘No Mow May’

Pollinators are facing serious threats to their survival, including a loss of food sources due to decreases in native vegetation. An annual initiative aims to help, at least for a month.

No Mow May, which began in the United Kingdom, has slowly been moving into other places, including the United States. In fact, residents in Appleton, Wisconsin, banded together to get their city council to set aside their weed ordinance in May 2020 as part of the effort.

Dewy overgrown grass

So what is No Mow May? The goal is to avoid mowing throughout the month, or to do it less often than you normally would, to allow flowering plants – like dandelions – to grow. The idea is to help feed pollinators in early spring when flowers may be somewhat more difficult to come by.

Lawns are a good place to start when it comes to addressing decreasing food for native pollinators. They take up more than 40 million acres in the United States, or about 2% of the country. To get that perfectly manicured look out of turf grass, homeowners will often use pesticides, clear out native plant life, and use lots of water that could be conserved. This is hardly an ideal situation for pollinators, which can’t find food on such lawns and would be at risk of the harms of pesticides used there.

Giving that lawn a rest can help bees and other pollinators find food in otherwise barren urban and suburban areas. In May, with plant options still often limited, this can also help with survival, as these species can find the nectar and pollen they need.

Bee on dandelion

Critics, however, have pointed out that just avoiding a mow may not do quite as much as a concerned bee-lover may want. The good news is you can add onto the effort by doing other helpful things. This includes planting flowers that are healthier for pollinators, reducing your pesticide use, and pushing local officials for wildlife-friendly lawn ordinances.

You can also plant a pollinator garden and choose native plants that such species enjoy. The University of Wisconsin’s Horticulture Extension says some helpful plants include Virginia Bluebells, the pasque flower, columbine flowers, and maple, oak, plum, and cherry trees. To ensure you’re choosing the right plants for your area, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends using this Native Plant Finder tool or contacting your local agricultural extension service.

Assortment of planted flowers

You can also help us plant native flowers for bees and other pollinators. Find out how here!

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