The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has announced that roadside mowing operations are now underway statewide, and IDOT has developed a cycle of mowing that helps maintain safety while also protecting pollinators like the monarch butterfly. “We are committed to protecting the environment in the work we do every day, but ask for the public’s cooperation by giving workers their distance,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “By combining well-defined vegetation management with mowing cycles that preserve sightlines and maximize safety, we can make a positive impact today and for future generations.” Pollinators play a key role in the ecosystem by aiding in reproduction of flowers, fruits and vegetables.
In recent years, IDOT has revised its mowing practices to help create and maintain habitat for pollinators, including the endangered rusty patched bumblebee and the monarch butterfly, the official state insect of Illinois.Through the summer, IDOT conducts two primary types of mowing. Safety mowing occurs directly adjacent to the road as needed. Maintenance mowing includes areas next to culverts, ditches, traffic control devices and other structures and follows the Illinois Monarch Project Mowing Guidelines for Pollinators, establishing the most extensive mowing period from July 1 to August 15. By mowing at select times and reducing the amount of land mowed, IDOT encourages the growth of plant species such as milkweed, the only food source for monarch caterpillars.
You can view a short video about IDOT’s mowing schedules and its work with pollinators at IDOT’s YouTube channel. Last year IDOT joined in the launch of the Illinois Monarch Action Plan as part of the Illinois Monarch Project, a collaborative effort to help ensure the survival and successful migration of monarchs by increasing and protecting habitat.