Protect Pollinators: Join No Mow May
Signs of Spring
We have officially passed the one-month mark of Spring. While the temperatures are still almost freezing at night, it does warm up with the sun quite a bit during the day – that is when it’s not raining. April showers and all. Happily, the signs of spring are all around us – crocuses, daffodils, violets, hyacinth are popping up, along with another kind of sign.
Last spring you may have noticed the Fish Factory Free signs along the roads on MDI and wondered what that was all about. They were in protest of the potential large-scale, closed pen development in Frenchman Bay to raise tons of salmon. Their application was recently denied by the Maine Department of Marine Resources, no doubt a welcomed outcome for many including Acadia National Park, Friends of Acadia, the MDI BioLab, as well as the local lobstering and boating community who all protested in force and in their boats. All considered it a win for the local ecosystem.
Now you may see new signs bloom this spring explaining why someone’s lawn looks a little untidy. No Mow May is a grassroots (pun intended) effort to help bees along their journey, and in the process help these pollinators do their job of growing better gardens. By not mowing your lawn and letting native plants like dandelions, clover, and other non-grass plants grow, these plant/weeds will provide food to native bees as they emerge from hibernation.
Mount Desert resident, Lili Andrews, a member of a local garden club, reached out to the Town Sustainability Committee to share an article in the New York Times about this growing movement, highlighting states mostly in the middle and western part of the country. The subhead of the article perfectly captures the concept and the skepticism for the practice: “Can the No Mow May movement help transform the traditional American lawn – a manicured carpet of grass – into something more ecologically beneficial?”
But what about May in Maine? Even if you wanted to do this, is this the right month? And, what about the scourge of ticks? Shouldn’t we do whatever necessary to keep the tick population minimized? To answer these questions, Lili reached out to Marjorie Peronto, Extension Educator of the UMaine Cooperative Extension. Many MDI residents may be familiar with Marjorie as one of the instructors of the Master Gardeners’ Program. When asked about this No Mow May initiative, she responded:
“What a wonderful initiative! Yes, the timing would be similar here…native bees begin emerging and foraging in April and May, and food resources are limited until other things in our gardens and landscapes start to bloom in abundance. Here’s our fact sheet.“
And when asked about ticks, she simply laughed and said “Ticks are everywhere – short grass, long grass…”
So, when you see your neighbor’s lawn looking a little unkempt next month, we hope you’ll understand the reason why, and support this eco-friendly effort for better gardens later in the summer. If you’d like to participate by not mowing your own lawn, and want to explain it to your neighbors, feel free to download any of these poster images to print and display. They should be springing up all over!