|Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on native thistle|
We counted over a 2-hour time span, enlisting some of their regular volunteers, people who came specifically for the event, and even a few folks who wandered by and were persuaded to give it a 15-minute shot. Although it was partly cloudy, temperatures reached 89 degrees while we were there. The insects didn’t mind the heat, but we took breaks under the tent and drank cool water and tea and nibbled on snacks that were labeled with information about whose pollination services made those goodies possible.
|The Blue Heron team did these great labels|
We used the Preserve’s community garden which had ornamental and edible plants (basil, chives, zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers) and which was adjacent to a nice wild area that had a lot of native plants like ironweed (Vernonia), late thoroughwort (Eupatorium serotinum), goldenrod (Solidago), and blue-flowering wild lettuce (Lactuca floridana).
I enjoyed seeing people learn from one count to the next how different plants support different pollinators. During the first count, one man was surprised at how many pollinators were on the native ironweed. Another man was equally surprised (and disappointed) by how few pollinators visited the New Guinea impatiens (a non-native ornamental plant). During the first break between counts, we talked about how some plants attracted mostly butterflies (the zinnias) while others attracted mostly bumble bees (the orange cosmos). People could see the real benefit of planting a diverse mix of plants to support a wide range of pollinators.
Between listening to people at the count and reading comments on the Facebook page associated with the count, it has been encouraging to see how much people have learned and noticed about our pollinators. What a wonderful educational opportunity it has been.
|Bumble bee goes to the next flower;|
annual sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
|Great golden digger wasp on mountain mint|
Included here are some pictures from my own counting on Friday as well as some of the counting we did as a group on Saturday. I look forward to next year’s count and, as an IT person, I also look forward to learning what the data collected might do to improve our understanding of how pollinators are faring in Georgia. In the meantime, keep planting pesticide-free flowering plants and go with native plants as much as possible.
|Excited bumble bee on cutleaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata)|