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rural roadside in MI
Photo: The Xerces Society /Jennifer Hopwood


With more than 10 million acres of land in roadsides in the United States alone, transportation rights-of-way are a significant, yet often overlooked resource for pollinator conservation. In landscapes denuded of natural areas by agriculture or urbanization, roadsides, utility easements, and other rights-of-way are an increasingly important component of regional habitat networks. They can support native vegetation, provide refuge for wildlife and connect fragmented habitat. 

The Basics

While different pollinators may have specific needs to support each stage of their lifecycle, they all need high-quality habitat that provides an abundance of flowers, shelter and nesting sites, and protection from pesticides.

Include Native Grasses and Wildflowers

Roadsides planted with native grasses and wildflowers support more butterflies and bees than roadsides dominated by non-native plants. In addition to providing roadside pollinator habitat, native plants can contribute significantly to soil stabilization, runoff reduction, and can contribute to reduced maintenance costs.

Reduce Mowing

Mowing of roadside vegetation beyond the shoulder during the growing season should be reduced, so wildflowers can be allowed to bloom. Consider mowing once a year in the dormant season or, better yet, mowing once every few years to reduce impact of mowing on pollinators and other wildlife such as songbirds.

A stylized image of a pesticide spray bottle.

Use Herbicides and Other Pesticides Sparingly

Blanket herbicide applications can eliminate wildflowers that pollinators depend upon. Spot-treat noxious weeds and carefully time herbicide applications to limit harm.


Roadside Revegetation