Dandelions are pollinators’ best friends: lay off the weed killer and the lawnmower
Aside from being extremely useful to humans, dandelions and other common lawn “weeds” are invaluable to bees and other pollinators.
You can help globally struggling pollinators tremendously simply by not spraying the weeds and by letting your grass grow a little longer between mowings, the British Ecological Society says.
If we like to eat the third of all food crops that are dependent on animal pollinators, we need to “learn to love weeds,” says the organization’s new president Jane Memmott.
“By leaving lawns to grow to ankle height, daisies, dandelions and clovers all get a chance to flower,” she said in a press release last week.
Memmott says she’s mows around dandelions in her yard, always making sure there are a few patches of flowers left for the bees and butterflies at any given time.
Dandelions are a staple food for pollinators when in the early spring when they come out of hibernation and not much else is blooming yet.
“Pollinators need food in February through to November so try have something flowering throughout the year,” Memmott says.
”It’s the start and end of the season when pollinators most struggle to find nectar.”
Even if you don’t have much of a yard, a small garden plot, a balcony, or even a potted plant on your doorstep is an opportunity to support bees, hoverflies and butterflies, she adds.
Memmott recommends native, single flowers with visible pollen centers, rather than double flowers, where the little bit of pollen they have is hidden under an elaborate array of petals.
“There’s nothing for pollinators to eat in plants bred to look like pom poms.”