Something amazing is happening in Rotonda West: A former golf course is being changed into Broadmoor Park.

One of the simple but profound changes that is occurring to transform this formerly bleak mowed landscape into a natural wonderland is the cessation of too-frequent mowing and herbicide spraying of vegetation along the edges of the ponds. This allows for the growth of a diverse array of plants that support animal life of an amazing variety, both in the water and on land.

I recently accompanied a group of Rotonda West residents on a nature walk led by Dave and Nancy Clayton to observe the gradual changes that will eventually transform this former golf course. One tiny weedy area along the banks of Lake Farrell illustrates the principle.

I quickly observed a swarm of four species of beautiful and beneficial insects in just one small area: A blue ceraunus butterfly, a white peacock butterfly, a female marl pennant dragonfly, and a male scarlet skimmer dragonfly. The butterflies come for flower nectar and to find the right vegetation for laying their eggs. The dragonflies provide a natural control on mosquitoes.

Isn’t it amazing how such a small thing — not mowing along the edge of a pond — can have such beneficial effects on wildlife? How wonderful it would be if more communities with ponds would follow the lead of Rotonda West and experiment with the benefits of allowing natural vegetation to regrow in and along the edges of ponds.

Bill Dunson is Professor Emeritus of Pennsylvania State University, thanks to a career spent entirely at that institution, teaching and doing research. Always curious about nature, Bill has dedicated his life to learning and sharing his knowledge with others. Contact him at


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