Posted on 07/09/2018 at 09:16 AM by Blog Author
Plant.Grow.Fly., a collaboration of over 60 local, regional and national organizations, encourages the planting of butterfly gardens in backyards, at schools and businesses. Over 1,000 gardens have been registered with the project. Gardens support pollinators like the monarch butterfly.
Monarchs, and other pollinators, can also find resources they need in other landscapes, like ditches and right-of-ways.
In Iowa, most of the land is in private ownership. This means that landowners have a huge role in helping pollinators across the state, and pollinator friendly mowing techniques are one way to make a big difference. We’re happy to offer resources and information about some of these easy-to-implement practices.
Many landowners may already be aware of Iowa’s mowing law, which prohibits the mowing of ditches before July 15. This is primarily to protect ground nesting birds who may lay eggs and rear young at this time. However, to benefit pollinators, Plant.Grow.Fly. and the University of Northern Iowa Tallgrass Prairie Center suggest delaying ditch mowing until after October 1st. This will ensure monarch butterflies, whose population has declined by 74 percent in the last twenty years (according to Xerces Society), have both a food source and a place to lay eggs until they migrate south.
Leaving roadsides unmowed may also reduce the number of butterflies that are killed by vehicles. “According to research, butterflies are less likely to cross the road if the ditch contains high quality habitat, with diverse wildflowers and grasses,” said Kristine Nemec, program manager for integrated roadside vegetation management at the Tallgrass Prairie Center.
Landowners with ditches may also consider adding a sign that says not to mow or spray. This will protect your flowers and grasses from other entities accidentally managing it. Signs can be found at plantgrowfly.com.
If you’re a landowner without a ditch and would like to help pollinators, you may consider planting more of your grass lawn into pollinator habitat. Go to plantgrowfly.com to find everything you need to know about planting butterfly habitat in your yard.
Safety must be considered in all mowing practices. Each landowner needs to assess their land to ensure visibility for drivers. Many landowners already achieve this by mowing only a 10 foot border along the ditch. This is also a common practice used by many counties and cities in the state.
For more information about Iowa’s mowing law or what mowing practices you can implement visit plantgrowfly.com.
Monarch Joint Venture has more great information on pollinator friendly mowing practices here.