Spring 2019 count results!

A huge thank you to everyone who participated in the Wild Pollinator Count for spring 2019. We’re thrilled to have received a record number of submissions from participants across Australia, despite challenging conditions in many places during the count week.

Below is a summary of the data from this round of the count. This information will be further analysed in conjunction with the previous ten count periods, as we seek to add to the knowledge of which insects are visiting which flowers from submissions received in each of our autumn and spring count periods.

In all, over 9,000 insects were reported in our target categories across the 736 submissions received (yes, new record)!

Spring 2019 results summary

BEES – European honey bees 3,017 (33%)
BEES – Blue-banded bees 185 (2%)
BEES – Other bees 672 (7%)
BEETLES – Ladybird beetles 1,189 (13%)
BEETLES – Other beetles 649 (7%)
FLIES – Hover flies 1,287 (14%)
FLIES – Other flies 1,475 (16%)
WASPS – European wasps 51 (0.6%)
WASPS – Other wasps 163 (2%)
Total insects observed in these categories 9,039

As in previous counts, honey bees were the most reported insect (33% of those in our count categories) though this is a smaller percentage than in past counts. Other bees, including blue-banded bees, other native bees and bumble bees (in Tasmania) made up almost 10% of sightings in our target groups.

Flies were also well represented. Nearly 1,200 hover flies and almost 1,500 ‘other’ flies reported mean they represented 30% of categorised sightings.

Beetles were the next most reported category with over 1,100 ladybird beetle sightings. Combined with ‘other’ beetles, they made up 20% of the observation records. Less reported were butterflies and moths (4%) and wasps (less than 3%).

In addition, there were also just over 850 sightings in the ‘other and unknown’ category. Of the ‘others’ ants again featured strongly, with bugs, spiders, mantids, dragonflies and even a couple of birds also noted here. In some cases, using descriptions or photos we were able to help add some of the unknown insects to other categories (in which case they are included in those totals, above).

A majority (55%) of submissions were observations undertaken on introduced plants – which is not surprising given we encourage counting in your garden or local neighbourhood and the count period may not coincide with local plant flowering times. However, many participants (45% of observations in this round) chose flowering native plants to observe and this diversity of plants makes for interesting comparisons. We hope to be able to make further comment on this after additional analyses.

Observations were submitted from across Australia, representing 216 different postcodes and many of those had multiple count locations within them. The map below gives an overview of the geographical range.

There were also some submissions we can’t include in our data set. These included observations with estimated numbers of insects; those undertaken outside the count period; and where multiple plant types were observed together, meaning the specific insect-plant relationships were not reported. To ensure your data can be included in the count, please follow our guidelines for how to count.

With the challenging conditions during the count week, including extensive fires and smoke in New South Wales and Queensland, as well as cool and windy weather in parts of southern Australia, we know you may not have had a chance to count in this round. Many participants noted conditions they thought contributed to fewer than usual insects being observed. We also appreciate those who submitted their ‘zero’ observations (where no insects were seen on flowers in the 10-minute period), as this is also valuable information.

Bearing in mind that submitting photos with a count is optional, we were kept busy with more than 74 people and organisations emailing us over 300 photos and videos – some for interest and others seeking confirmation of the identity or category of insect they saw. Many others shared images via social media – thank you!

Check out our spring count photo gallery for a selection of photos generously shared as part of this count. Mouse over any photo for the photographer’s name and which category the insect belongs to.

It was also terrific to see participants adding photos taken during their counts to our project on iNaturalist and other nature mapping platforms. This enables verified observations to be included on the national biodiversity database, the Atlas of Living Australia, as well as potentially more detailed identification than our simple (but relatively quick to learn!) categories.

A reminder you can add photo records of insects visiting flowers to our iNaturalist project at any time, not only in our count weeks. Find out more about it here.

Thank you once again to everyone who participated in and promoted the spring 2019 Wild Pollinator Count! We hope you enjoyed observing insects, their activity on flowers and perhaps becoming more familiar with their diversity, roles and importance!

If you are keen to join the count in 2020 the dates are:

Autumn: 12 – 19 April (starts Easter Sunday)
Spring: 8 – 15 November

We hope you’ll consider joining in (again) then!

Bee fly (Bombyliidae)

One thought on “Spring 2019 count results!

  1. Thanks for the analysis and exciting to see more people being involved. I am glad you shared the iNaturalist possibility as I didn’t get to put up my pics up in the week (again sorry) but can add them to iNaturalist. I am looking more and taking more pics of insects so thanks for the inspiration and will upload them soon


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