Illinois Department of Transportation has announced that they will join neighboring states in altering mowing practices. In the past, Illinois has varied the width of the strip that is mowed next to roadways. Mowing improves visibility and prevents hazards such as trees from establishing to close to the roads. In Summer 2017, IDOT will narrow the width of their mowing strip to only 15 feet from the edge of the roadway. The plan is to let wildflowers, including milkweed the monarch host plant, establish and provide increased habitat for butterflies and other wildlife.
To prevent the growth of trees, it may be necessary to cut the foliage after it dies in the fall and most of the insects have migrated to overwintering sites. However, this can be done once per year rather than monthly or more frequently. In addition to enhancing wildlife, mowing less frequently can save on the cost of fuel and labor. This summer, motorists will have more colorful scenery whizzing past.