Pollinator Census

Lifestyle

2020 is the second annual Great Georgia Pollinator Census. Last year the pollinator census was a huge success. It was the first of its kind and really generated some great data on pollinators. It’s also a great way for citizens to become involved, learn about, and protect pollinators. This year’s census will be held on August 21 st and 22 nd . Let’s talk about how you can be involved this year.

The pollinator census comes together because of the hard work of Becky Griffin. Becky works at GMREC just south of Blairsville. With concerns about pollinator decline, the census allows us to capture critical data that can be used year after year to track the health and well being of pollinators.

Some locations will have guided counts. If you’re unsure of how to participate, joining a guided count is a great way to be a part of the census. Hamilton Gardens at Lake Chatuge will be holding a guided count on Friday August 21 st at 2:00 pm. If you would like to participate from home that is also possible.

If you want to join the pollinator census at home it’s very simple. Go to the ggapc.org website. Click on the link to the handy counting sheet. Print out the counting sheet and take it outside with you to start your count. Each census count will be done by observing a flowering plant for 15 minutes. Fill out the information at the top of the chart. This includes information on the name of the plant, date, time, and temperature. Also, circle the weather conditions at the time of your count.

For the census, there are eight categories that you count insects. They are: carpenter bee, bumblebee, honeybee, small bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, and other insects. Let’s go through how to identify each of the insects in these categories.

Carpenter bees are going to be the largest of the bees that we see. They look very similar to bumble bees. The major difference is that carpenter bees have no hair on their abdomen (also known as their hind end). Carpenter and bumble bees have yellow and black hair. Bumblebees will have all black hair on their abdomens.

Honeybees are smaller than bumblebees and will have brown or blackish stripes mixed with golden- brown. They have hair down their whole body. Small bees are any bee smaller than a honeybee. We have many different species of small bees out there that are native pollinators. These native pollinators are very important for pollinating native plants. Small bees can be down to the length of a staple.

Wasps include paper wasps and potter wasps. They are important pollinators for certain plants like rattlesnake master. Flies are pollinators too. They will only have two wings and large eyes. Some flies have coloring to make them look like a bee or wasps to avoid predators. In nature, this is called mimicry.

Butterflies are usually pretty easy to identify because of their wings and variation of colors. The other category includes all other insects that may land on the plant while you’re watching it. This could be beetles, dragonflies, lacewings, or ants.

After you’ve done your count for 15 minutes go to ggapc.org to enter your results. You can do the census as many times as you’d like on the 21 st and 22 nd . If you see an insect leave your plant and come back count that as a new visitor.

If you have questions about the pollinator census contact your County Extension Office or email me at [email protected].

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