Today at the Landings: 68 °F

Skidaway Audubon News: UGA Seeking Citizen Scientists

Courtesy of Skidaway Audubon

Skidaway Island residents will have the opportunity to become citizen scientists for a day or two during the Great Georgia Pollinator Census set for August 20 and 21. The only requirement is good observation skills.

During the annual beneficial bug count, between 9 and 11 a.m. on both days, Skidaway Audubon will hand out insect identification guides at Sparrow Field, off Bartram Road, where residents will choose a plant, and for 15 minutes see what visits it. Butterflies, bees, and other pollinators will be identified and counted.

The data will be transmitted to University of Georgia researchers who compile census results from throughout the state and then chart statewide pollinator population trends. Residents who wish to participate in the comfort of their own backyard can use UGA’s downloadable counting sheets and insect identification guide that can be found online (GGaPC.org). Count how many of each kind of insect you see, then return to the website and log in your insect counts.

Why is tracking pollinators important? Insects pollinate crops including apples, peaches, strawberries, almonds, lettuce, beans, onions, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, cotton, and much more. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on pollinators.

Unfortunately, over the past 30 years, pollinator populations have declined significantly. The losses are attributed to disease, pesticides, and habitat loss.

To create a habitat for butterflies and other pollinators in your yard, there are several flowers and bushes native to Georgia that can be planted. Skidaway Audubon’s pollinator garden at Sparrow Field is a showcase of plants that attract all kinds of beneficial insects. To learn more, visit skidawayaudubon.org.

 

The photo shown at left, taken by Amy Collings, shows a swallowtail butterfly on Lantana.