It’s May again, which means it’s that time of year where Appletonians turn their lawn mowers off and let the grass grow for the month to help pollinators like bees and butterflies.
The Common Council voted 13-2 to continue No Mow May on a voluntary basis for a second year, a marked increase compared to last year’s 8-7 vote. Since last year, data on No Mow May has come out in the initiative’s favor.
Israel Del Toro, assistant biology professor at Lawrence University in Appleton, found evidence based on last year’s 435 No Mow May homes that significantly contributed to biodiversity. Bee populations increased fivefold, whose pollination efforts led to yards seeing a larger presence of violets, white clovers, Shepherd’s Purse, thistles and dandelions at the start of the summer flowering season.
“That’s what the strength was in this year’s vote was, like, we looked at the evidence and we thought, this had an impact on the biodiversity of our community, so let’s go forward to ideally build strong populations,” Del Toro says.
For many in Appleton, No Mow May isn’t all sunshine and flowers. The City of Appleton received 106 complaints last year from homeowners opposed to their neighbors’ lack of lawn care, citing unattractive neighborhoods and pollen allergies. Del Toro and those who voted in favor of No Mow May, however, value the initiative’s potential to spread awareness on the importance of biodiversity among plants and animals.
“You can imagine yourself being a bumblebee coming out of hibernation for the winter and not having a lot of food to eat,” Del Toro says, “So it’s also an opportunity for people to learn a bit about the important pollinators like butterflies in our backyard.”
Del Toro, who is also a member of environmental advocacy group Pollenablers Fox Cities, wants to expand No Mow May by recruiting representative members to advocate No Mow May outside of just Appleton.
“We’re trying to hit up Oshkosh to Green Bay, along the Fox River Valley, to get us all involved in the same initiative,” Del Toro says.
Anyone in Appleton can get involved in No Mow May, since the City will suspend enforcement of mowing laws until June 1. Del Toro encourages those interested to fill out a registration form through the Pollenablers – Fox Cities Facebook page, which helps the Pollenablers conduct research.