No Mow May—no way

When I first heard about "No Mow May," I was excited. I got the impression no-mow could encourage pollinators pollinating. Then I read a statement by a Cleveland Heights resident. After walking her two dogs on lawns that were knee high, she found three ticks on her companion animals.

Let's be clear: The incidence of tick-borne infection, such as Lyme disease, is greatly on the rise. One might say, so what, it can be treated with antibiotics. I worked as an RN and PA. Lyme can be difficult to diagnose. Without early diagnosis and treatment, the person can live with longstanding pain and suffering.

As more and more natural habitat is converted to cement and housing, deer in our neighborhoods is a common sighting. But deer just want to be deer. They aren't intentionally carrying around ticks. Put together the two pieces of the equation—deer and tall grass. This is a recipe for serious insect-bearing diseases.

Cleveland Heights has been on the forefront of ecological issues. I got the first-of-its-kind ordinance passed in 1995, banning artificial lawn chemicals on public properties. Trees are being planted on tree lawns. Gas lawn mowers are being swapped for electric lawn mowers.

Rather than a catchy "No Mow May," how about the city educate residents about the harm lawn chemicals can pose to living creatures? These chemicals are poisons. Open your windows and they can invade your living space. Neonicotinoid pesticides are now being quantified in human hair, urine and blood serum.
How about encouraging homeowners to turn a patch of lawn into a native wildflower garden which can feed wild bees from spring through fall? There are myriad other ideas, e.g., mowing high, planting Food Not Lawns, and incorporating native pollinator plants into existing spaces.

Rather than keeping the lawn mower under lock and key for a month, there are lots of ways to support pollinators. Remember Rachel Carson's Silent Spring? This isn't only about the destruction of the delicate balance of nature. It's about how we can all move forward in a positive way for the health and safety of our beloved Cleveland Heights.

Laurel Hopwood

Laurel Hopwood has been a community activist for 40 years, working to limit exposures of living things to toxins.

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Volume 16, Issue 7, Posted 4:49 PM, 06.29.2023