It’s once again time for our annual appeal to farmers and landowners to take into consideration this region’s plants and fauna which tend to be tropophilous.

You see, we have tropophilous things growing, crawling, running and flying around the countryside. If the term tropophilous puzzles you, don’t feel bad---you’re in good company. 

Ryan Williamson of Herscher didn’t know the term either. And he finished 44th in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee a few weeks ago. And it was good old tropophilous which sent him to the canvas in the eighth round. 

Anyway, Ryan and the rest of us can all learn a lesson from tropophilous. He told me the definition for this adjective is: Physiologically adjusted or thriving in an environment that undergoes marked periodic changes (as in) temperature, soil moisture, or available light. 

Here in the Midwest, we do tend to undergo such marked periodic changes…sometimes several times a day. 

Thus, anything which calls this region home has to indeed be quite tropophilous. And many of these tropophilous critters live in roadside ditches, using tropophilous plants for food and shelter. 

According to Webster’s Unabridged, tropophilous beings can withstand and even thrive through constant changes in weather. However, the sickle blade is not one of those marked periodic changes mentioned in Webster’s definition. 

 For many farmers, the mowing of roadside ditches is an early summer ritual. On behalf of our tropophilous friends, I ask those who are now revving up their mowers to reconsider. 

First of all, I’ve never met a farmer who actually enjoyed mowing ditches. So as an annual public service, I would again like to offer an excuse many farmers must now be seeking to at least postpone the task of roadside ditch mowing. 

According to the Illinois Department of Conservation, much of our state’s tropophilous wildlife population thrives in the tropophilous plant cover found in roadside ditches.

The DOC urges ditchmowers to at least delay the chore until August 1. By that time, these young tropophilous birds will have the savvy to outrun a mower when it passes through their playground. 

Also, the tall prairie grass, which has also proven to be extremely tropophilous over the years, is a beautiful sight as it waves in a summer breeze. I prefer such a sight over a ditch sporting a crewcut. 

So remember, it’s not important that tropophilous is spelled correctly. What really matters is that we help those with roots and wings who are tropophilous enough to survive every element the Midwest can throw them. 

Thanks for the lesson, Ryan.  

Editor’s Note: Ryan is currently a CPA in Kankakee.