Skidaway Audubon News: UGA Seeks Citizen Scientists

Courtesy of Skidaway Audubon 

The 2022 Great Georgia Pollinator Census will be held on August 19 and 20, and participation couldn’t bee easier – or more critical.

Any resident can help university researchers by simply choosing a flowering plant in their yard. Then for 15 minutes, see what visits it. Use the University of Georgia’s downloadable counting sheets and insect identification guide at GGaPC.org. Count how many of each kind of insect visits during that time, then return to the website and log in the insect counts.

Quantifying the pollinator population is especially important this year as Skidaway Audubon gardeners have noticed a significant decline in bees, butterflies, and other pollinators on the island this summer. Having these casual observations documented will help provide researchers with more firm data.

No flowering plants in your yard? Residents always are welcome at the garden at Sparrow Field, maintained by Skidaway Audubon, off Bartram Road. Walk along the pathway, bring water and a snack, and enjoy the shade in the gazebo. In honor of long-time Audubon volunteer Caryl Warner, a bench (pictured below at right) was installed facing the small pond so visitors can relax while observing nature.

Tracking pollinators is important as these 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.

This summer, the iconic monarch butterfly was placed on the endangered species list. Skidaway Audubon’s Nature Notices initiative encourages residents to replace parts of their lawn with native plants that attract pollinators, including milkweed, the monarch’s host plant. For more information, visit skidawayaudubon.org and click on Nature Notices. The initiative dovetails with noted naturalist Doug Tallamy’s Homegrown National Park project, which urges homeowners nationwide to create a coast-to-coast network of natural spaces to promote the resurgence of pollinators.

To create a backyard habitat for butterflies and other pollinators, there are several flowers and bushes native to Georgia that Skidaway Island homeowners can plant. 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 or stop by Sparrow Field, where hard-working volunteers, including many Master Gardeners, have labeled each planting.