Home Census Residents Become Scientists of the Day with The Great Georgia Pollinator Count – SaportaReport

Residents Become Scientists of the Day with The Great Georgia Pollinator Count – SaportaReport

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By Hannah E. Jones

Pollinators play a vital role in our ecosystems, with over 80 percent flowering plants in the world that require a pollinator to reproduce. But due to agricultural chemicals, climate change and intensive farming practices, their populations are declining.

This weekend, people across the state are connecting with their local insect community to Georgia’s Great Pollinator Count.

Butterflies — like this Red Admiral — are one of the state’s best pollinators. (Photo by Ian Kelsall, Unsplash.)

The citizen science project – created by the University of Georgia (UGA) and Becky Griffin, UGA’s community and school garden coordinator and pollinator health associate – was launched in 2019 to help stimulate the local population pollinators while educating people on how to grow healthier gardens.

“As a school and community garden coordinator, I would travel around the state and see these beautiful gardens where gardeners knew a lot, but something was missing,” Griffin said. “Often they didn’t understand the role of insects in the ecosystem, and the missing part was pollinators and beneficial insects. I came up with the idea of ​​the census as a way to collect important data for researchers, as well as to educate our gardeners on the importance of not only pollinators but other beneficial insects as well.

Here’s how it works: On Friday August 19th and Saturday August 20th, participants will choose a plant with insect activity – in their garden, neighborhood or local park – and count the number of insect visits in 15 minute intervals. Pollinators being followed are carpenter bees, bumblebees, honey bees, small bees, flies, wasps, butterflies and others. Once the weekend is over, participants can save their discoveries in the database.

Last year’s census results. (Courtesy of The Great Georgia Pollinator Count.)

Everyone is welcome to join the pollinator counts, and once completed, the data is shared with local researchers.

In addition to insect counts, the team offers workshops throughout the year to help protect pollinators and educate people about their role in the larger ecosystem and how best to protect these important little creatures. .

Through their efforts, 436 new sustainable pollinator gardens were created by Georgia residents and organizations after the 2021 census – with 1,800 new pollinator habitats since 2019.

The project also extends to Caroline from the south this year, with the hope of eventually serving the entire southeast.

“It’s really a testament that people are learning how important these pollinators are and how important they are to pollinator conservation,” Griffin said. “Our slogan is ‘protecting pollinators one account at a time’ because every garden that is more pollinator friendly or someone submits an account, all of this helps pollinators and empowers people to take control of the situation.”

For those planning to participate this weekend, Griffin recommends starting the countdown in the morning before it gets too hot. There is a chance of rain across the state and if that happens, the count will be on Sunday, August 21 and Monday, August 22.

While you’re wearing your science cap, Griffin added, don’t forget to enjoy your time in nature.

“The first comment I get after every count is, ‘Becky, I had no idea the diversity and number of insects in my own garden,'” she said. “So take these 15 minutes to relax, enjoy watching these insects and doing the count.”

Click here for more information and resources on The Great Georgia Pollinator Count.