A big thank you to everyone who took part in the November 2016 Wild Pollinator Count! Over 350 observations were submitted from 111 different locations, ranging from Kanimbla in North Queensland, Pelverata in Tasmania, all the way to City Beach in Western Australia. We’re still waiting for some observations from the Northern Territory!
Participants counted over 3500 insects during this spring’s count*. Excluded from this total were insects, arthropods or birds that were counted while flying past flowers without landing. We also excluded ants, as often they don’t come in direct contact with the reproductive organs of the plants (and when they do they are often pollen robbing rather than pollinating!). As with previous counts, the European honey bee was again counted as being the most abundant pollinating insect, followed by our “other” bees, hover flies and “other” flies. Our beetle, wasp and butterfly/moth count was impressive!
|Wild pollinator||Number counted|
|European honey bee||915|
|Blue banded bee (native)||99|
|Butterflies & moths||173|
In many parts of Australia, this count was made trickier by the wet and windy weather conditions. Pollinating insects (like many of us) don’t like temperamental weather as it can make pollen foraging more difficult and energy consuming. That’s why it’s essential that we conduct these counts only on “good” days, as the weather can affect both the diversity and number of pollinating insects present. Yet even with these adverse conditions, there was a noticeable increase in the amount of native bees present in comparison to the autumn count. We saw a jump from only 29% of bees being native, to 44% of bees being native during this count. This reflects the fact that native bee abundance peaks during the spring months, mainly due to the bountiful supply of pollen and nectar provided by the plants in your gardens!
In springtime there is generally an abundance of flowering plants for pollinators to forage on, therefore it’s always very interesting to compare the insect and plant data collected between the autumn and spring counts. During our autumn count, we only observed 90 different plants; this time around we observed over 180 different plants. More of these were exotic (53%) than native (47%). Of these plants, the most popular ones to watch were Grevillea, Lavender, Callistemon (bottlebrush), and Borage. So even with the plethora of floral resources available during springtime, grevilleas remain a popular plant for pollinators throughout the year.
Once again it was great to see that a few zero values were included in this count. These type of data (called presence/absence data) is just as useful, as it allows us to get a better picture of not only which plants certain insects are commonly found pollinating, but also allows us to gives us some indication of what plant and insect combinations aren’t compatible. These null observations came from both native and exotic plants. Participants aptly noted that weather was not likely to be the cause of the absence, as insects were spotted flying over the observed plants. Several concluded that perhaps their observed plants were “past peak” or the insects were “patrolling” rather than pollinating.
Once again, a big thank you to everyone who submitted this year, it was a pleasure to read your comments, they were filled with incredible details about both the plants and insects you observed. There were also many wonderful photos submitted this count; head on over to our Flickr page to check out all the photos captured and submitted!
Stay tuned for information and updates that we’ll be posting between counts, and be sure to check out the #ozpollinators hashtag on Twitter!
Thank you once again and we look forward to you all being apart of the next count between the 9-16 April 2017!
*N.B.: Unfortunately, 27 entries could not be included within this dataset due to insufficient information being supplied. Please be sure to include the name of the observed plant as well as accurate and discrete count data (i.e. 12 bees rather than >10 bees).