Practical robotic mowers are being used more and more often in gardens. Unfortunately, people often forget what the use of a lawn robot can mean for small animals such as hedgehogs, bees and other insects. Here you can find out what robotic mowers do and how you can reduce the danger to animals and insects.
When the gardening season begins in spring, hedgehogs and countless insects valuable to nature have also awoken from hibernation. Animal life in the garden is at its most active between March and October – precisely the time when the robotic lawnmower also comes into play and can become a serious hazard.
The danger for hedgehogs lurks in the darkness
Hedgehogs are nocturnal. During the day they sleep in a protected shelter. As soon as dawn breaks, they wake up and go in search of food. This often lasts all night. They also roam gardens from one side to the other. They mainly attract insects such as worms and caterpillars on lawns.
When searching for food, they rely purely on their sense of smell and hearing, because hedgehogs have only limited eyesight. This can be a problem if a robotic lawnmower is also running its course.
Protective posture and poor eyesight are the downfall of hedgehogs
Modern robotic mowers are very quiet these days. If it approaches a hedgehog, the latter only notices the robot very late. Since it can hardly move faster than the hostile lawnmower, it simply rolls up when danger threatens and erects its spikes as a defense. This provides protection from animal enemies, but a robotic lawnmower won’t stop at the body it makes smaller as a result.
Even sensors designed to provide collision protection often fail to detect the hedgehog because the resistance when it hits the spines is too low to register a collision. The robot then continues its journey unhindered and can inflict the most serious and fatal injuries on the hedgehog.
Avoiding danger for hedgehogs
Volume of the robotic mower
Although a quiet noise level is preferred when buying a robotic mower, so that it can be started up at any time of the day or night without making a disturbing noise, you should choose a louder model to protect hedgehogs. They are considered to be particularly quiet up to 55 decibels. With a device that has a noise level of around 70 decibels, you give hedgehogs the chance to hear them early and give you a sufficient head start to escape.
In our robotic mower test, you can compare the individual models and filter them by volume.
No robot use at night
Ideally, you should completely refrain from using the robotic lawn mower at night. If you still want to have your lawn cut in the fall, keep in mind that before hibernation begins, hedgehogs are often out during the day as well, so you can gather enough food for the winter season.
Robotic lawn mower size
Choose a model with a size or power level that allows you to cut your lawn entirely during the day. This way, there is no need to use it at night. In principle, it is advised to buy a robotic lawnmower that can cut at least a third more square meters of lawn than there are. Because in principle, the greater the power and smaller the working area, the faster the lawn cutting is done.
Attach a guard to the robotic lawnmower
If the robotic lawnmower perceived the hedgehog as an obstacle on contact, there would be no danger to these animals and other small creatures, such as frogs and lizards. The robotic lawnmower would stop immediately, reverse, and drive around the “obstacle.” To make collision sensors react more sensitively and detect even the smallest little animals, it helps to attach a protective device.
A simple perforated plate mounted in the front area so that it reduces the distance between the housing and the lawn surface is already sufficient for this purpose. For some models, such as you can also find in our comparison table, these guards are offered as accessories, which are also known under the term “apple skirt”.
Insect hostile robotic mower
An intact soil life is the basis for a healthy lawn, which is additionally a breeding ground and habitat for many ecologically valuable insect species. Not to mention that insects found there provide food for many other garden inhabitants.
The cutting length makes the difference
The cutting height recommended by lawn experts is between three and five centimeters. Some garden owners also set the cutting height at two centimeters. This is mainly the case for cutting ornamental lawns so that they grow densely.
What is usually ignored is that small animals such as insects have no chance of survival when the blades of the robotic lawnmower rotate so close to the surface of the ground. Worms, larvae and even bees searching for pollen in the lawn can become victims of the robotic lawnmower. You won’t be able to prevent this entirely, but with a few tips you can at least minimize the danger to insects.
Reduce the danger for insects
Adjust the cutting height
Refrain from cutting the lawn too short. Set the cutting height of your robotic lawnmower as high as possible, because every inch can save insect lives.
Provide food sources
Create nectar sources for bees, wasps and other flying insects by having flowering plants in close proximity to the lawn to draw them away from pollen searching in the lawn. For very large lawns, island-like bed borders with blooming flowers and herbs are an ideal distraction for bees and other flying insects. For more info, see our Tips for a Wildlife and Insect Friendly Garden guide.
Create ideal habitats
Create suitable habitats for beetles and larvae that provide ideal conditions for the particular insect species. This way, ideally, many of them will escape from the lawn.
Choose the right time of day
If you let your robotic lawnmower do its job early in the morning shortly after sunrise, many insect species will not yet be busy. Bees, for example, usually don’t become active until later in the morning.
Lawn robot noise for early warning
As with hedgehogs, a louder robotic lawnmower with a noise level around 70 decibels can provide early warning of danger, especially to bees and their conspecifics.