An Argument Against Mowing
To the Editor:
We Americans love our lawns acres and acres of emerald green, carefully manicured perfection. Except, they are mostly a dead zone.
If you ever watch the action on your lawn, you’ll see that the only place a pollinator actually stops to visit is the occasional dandelion or clover that pops up. Of course, those don’t last long. As soon as we spot them, we rush out with a digger or some weed killer to eradicate the upstart!
In this time when we are coming to recognize the peril facing pollinators, we need to try some new tactics. One of these is to stop mowing every square inch of ground we own. Each of us can take at least a small corner of our yard (or a large one) and plant it to native grasses and wildflowers. These do take some time to become established, but it is worth it. They take almost no maintenance, once established, and provide food and habitat for the native fauna of the prairie.
Before Europeans, millions of acres of Iowa were prairie. Now, millions of acres are not. Obviously, we cannot reverse this situation, but we can mitigate it somewhat. If we plant natives in our yards and stop mowing our ditches we can make a real, significant difference.
Ditches act as a corridor from one “oasis” to the next. Imagine being at one end of a hundred-mile desert and trying to make it to the other end with no food or shelter, not even knowing if there is another end. This is what pollinators face when we mow the ditches. Yes, it is neat and easy to maintain, but it provides nothing, just like a lawn.
Bees, butterflies, dragonflies, and other insects (not to mention the pheasants, partridge, and other animals that depend on the insects) cannot make use of a neatly manicured ditch they need the flowers and grasses that used to grow wild all over the state and are now vanishing.
Please consider what you can do to change this situation before it is too late, and do something meaningful.