I am apparently not alone in thinking that advice to save pollinators (let your lawn grow) clashes with advice to avoid ticks around the house (cut the grass short because ticks don’t like heat and dryness).
But a (admittedly, very preliminary) study says that maybe they don’t clash, as reported by the U.S. Forest Service:
As part of a study to evaluate whether less frequent lawn mowing in residential lawns in Springfield, Mass., could promote floral resources and hence, serve as viable habitat for native bees, Lerman and her partners surveyed for blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis, also known as deer ticks) as well as bees every three weeks. In 16 suburban Springfield lawns over the course of two summers, Lerman and colleagues documented 111 bee species, which equates to roughly one-quarter of all bees documented in Massachusetts. As for blacklegged ticks? In 144 tick drags in lawns of various lawn mowing frequencies and grass heights, Lerman and her colleagues found not a single one.
Here’s the important point:
While blacklegged ticks are no doubt lurking in people’s yards, D’Amico said that the grassy part of a property is probably too dry for the tick. “This species needs near 100 percent humidity for at least part of the day,” D’Amico said. “Where we have leaf litter, the ticks do very well.”
You can read the whole story, with links to the study, here.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone.
That is a reassuring study. I like to cut our lawn (more like a field then a lawn but I digress) high. Figure it helps withstand dry spells better. We have a lot of clover and other wild flowing plants so I notice a lot of bee activity when I mow.
Our dog is a tick magnet but I think he picks them up mostly from hiking trails. We have one outdoor cat and he never has ticks.
What about Lone Star ticks which are establishing their populations in New England as we speak? As I understand it, they can do very well in sun-drenched, low cut lawns.