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Habitat and wildlife benefits of long grass

If you visit one of Somerset West and Taunton’s open spaces, you may come across some areas where the grass has been left to grow longer. This isn’t us missing bits, these are areas that the grass cutting teams have purposely left longer to help create better habitat for local wildlife.

Leaving areas of grass uncut throughout the year provides vital shelter for invertebrates to breed. These invertebrates are a rich source of protein for mammals, such as hedgehogs, as well as birds. These protein hits are really important for the survival of young chicks during spring and summer.

Spiders catch flies by spinning webs from the tall grass, a beautiful spectacle in the early morning dew. Spiders are also an important food source for hedgehogs and blackbirds.

Invertebrates are also enjoyed by amphibians like newts, frogs and toads, but the moisture within long grass also helps stop amphibians from dying out during the driest periods of the year.

The meadow brown is one of Britain’s most common butterfly, roosting and laying eggs in tall clumps of grass. Long grass also provides an excellent habitat for moth caterpillars. Moth caterpillars are a blue tits favourite food, and a large brood of baby tits can eat more than 10,000 caterpillars before they leave the nest!

Over time, reduced cutting of grass and removal of cuttings reduces the fertility of the soil and encourages wild flower species to establish. Even common species such as daisies and buttercups provide nectar and pollen for hoverflies and bees.

An estimated 97% of wildflower meadows disappeared from England and Wales between the 1930s and 1980s, so areas of wild grass and flowers are more important than they have ever been.

There are 25 species of bumblebee in the UK, and they are really important as pollinators. However, bumblebees are disappearing - six out of the 25 species have declined in numbers by at least 80% over the last 50 years.