Ag News

Great Georgia Pollinator Census nets 4,567 counts

More than 4,000 Georgians  logged 4,567 counts in 133 counties participated in the nation's first statewide pollinator census, logging more than 133,963 insect interactions.

 “I think the story now is how excited people were to participate,” said Becky Griffin, school and community garden coordinator for University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and the pollinator count organizer. “I have heard several times that people will never look at their gardens the same way again and that slowing down for 15 minutes to look at the insects was eye-opening. I am so very, very grateful for all of the Georgia citizens who were willing to give up their time to support our pollinators.”

Each participant spent 15 minutes focusing on one individual blooming plant. They tallied the number of insects and the types of insects they witnessed during those 15 minutes and then recorded and reported the type of plant they selected, the time of day, the weather and their location.

Griffin is working with other pollinator experts to crunch the data to look for trends about which pollinators were most populous in different parts of the state. Once analyzed, the results should provide a needed benchmark for the state's native pollinator population. Future censuses will help track the health of Georgia pollinators.

Pollinators, both domestic and wild, contribute about $367 million to the Georgia economy each year, according to a 2015 study by UGA economists.

In addition to the data generated by the census, Griffin wanted the count to serve as an educational experience for Georgians. After spending 15 minutes focused on one plant to count pollinators, many participants reported having a new respect for their backyard or garden ecosystems, Griffin said.

While it was hard to stay still and count for 15 minutes, each student came away with a new appreciation of the tiny world that exists on the plants in the school garden, Parr added.

Griffin plans to publish insights from the census on the Great Georgia Pollinator Census website as well as in traditional academic journals. To keep up with the latest news from the census, join the Great Georgia Pollinator Census Group on Facebook.