Central Albertans are being encouraged to step away from their lawnmower this month and join No Mow May movement.
The annual month-long campaign, which started in the United Kingdom, is a way to help more wild pollinators, like butterflies and bees, survive to carry pollen to fertilize plants, trees, vegetable and flower gardens.
Todd Nivens, executive director of the Waskasoo Environmental Education Society in Red Deer, said lawns provide habitat for early season insects that overwinter beneath the leaf litter, and leaving yards alone this month is a fantastic idea.
“If we can delay the yard cleanup and delay mowing our lawns, we really give these beneficial insects the best chance of surviving into the spring and summer,” Nivens said.
He said when it comes to pollinators, people usually think about the honey bees used in farmers’ fields to grow grain crops, but food and flower production in communities depends entirely on urban pollinators.
“We’re less concerned about honey bees in the city and more concerned about those solitary pollinators that are doing the job unseen. In an urban environment, it’s the solitary pollinators that we really want to help get established, things like mason bees, leafcutter bees, butterflies, bumblebees,” Nivens said.
Kerry Wood Nature Centre is holding a pollinator house workshop on May 14. Pre-registration is required by May 12.
Sean Feagan, communications coordinator with Nature Conservancy of Canada, Alberta Region, said even with millions of lawns in Canada, it could still make a difference if just a small number of people participate in No Mow May.
Last year the Conservancy urged Canadians to join the campaign, and this year they want Canadians to take the next step and add some native plants to their yards, or balconies.
Native trees, shrubs and wildflowers support a greater diversity of pollinators and other insects than traditional horticultural plants. Since they evolved alongside wild bees, butterflies and other species, they provide better habitat than ornamental varieties do, and are often drought tolerant.
“We often think of the spaces where we live as separate from nature, but they are an integral part of the ecosystem. The plants we choose to grow will have a significant influence on the diversity and abundance of native wildlife,” said Samantha Knight, the conservancy’s national conservation science manager in a statement.
To learn about the species native to specific parts of Canada, visit the Canadian Council on Invasive Species’ Be Plant Wise program at canadainvasives.ca/programs/be-plant-wise/.