If you were out driving the highways in the Metro East, you probably had to slow down for Illinois Department of Transportation mowers along the side of the road. They're out earlier this year and it’s to protect the monarch butterflies and bees.
“That’s actually the goal - is to make sure that neither the monarch butterfly nor the rusty patch bumblebee actually become critically endangered where we risk losing them forever,” said Joseph Monroe, District Aid Operations Engineer for IDOT.
The Metro East is a migratory hotspot for the monarch butterfly. IDOT is restricting its mowing in certain areas so the butterflies will have more food and cover.
“We’re trying to balance the needs of everyone involved from the aesthetics and development to make sure the area thrives economically and also to make sure the pollinators are there to do their job,” said Monroe.
They will also only mow certain times of the season to be more conducive to the flight of the monarch butterfly.
IDOT suggests that homeowners in rural areas leave the back slopes alone and only selectively spray for weeds and not mow as often. If people living in more urban settings want to do their part, IDOT suggests selecting plants, like milkweed, that attract and benefit the butterflies when landscaping their yards.