Autumn 2020 count results

Thank you to everyone who participated in our biggest count yet! A total of 1959 valid observations were submitted this count. Our previous record was 736 observations, in spring 2019, so this is a huge increase! The autumn 2020 count coincided with COVID-19 lockdowns around the country, so we hope you enjoyed the opportunity to take some time with nature in your backyard.

We were so overwhelmed with the number of records, it has taken us much longer than usual to summarise the data! The huge number of submissions also caused some technical issues for our website, so we apologise if you received delayed confirmation of your submissions. We are working to fix these potential issues for future counts. For those new to Wild Pollinator Count, we are an unfunded project run by two people (Manu & Karen) and we thank everyone for their patience as we work through the responses. We really appreciate the many contributions and positive feedback we get at every count!

So, what were the results?

Over 20,000 individual insects were observed, at over 560 unique postcodes (see map above). Just over 2000 total observations were submitted, but we had to remove 52 observations that did not provide information on plants, insects, location, or that did not follow the count protocol.

Bees were the most commonly observed flower visitors, closely followed by flies, our other favourite pollinators. European honey bees were the most counted individuals. It was also interesting to see how many European wasps, an invasive exotic pest species, were counted this time.

Click here to see a gallery of some of the beatiful photos people shared with us.

Insect Category Total number reported
BEES – European honey bees 8279
BEES – Blue-banded bees 757
BEES – Other bees 2159
BEETLES – Ladybird beetles 269
BEETLES – Other beetles 280
FLIES – Hoverflies 2991
FLIES – Other flies 1298
WASPS – European wasps 2046
WASPS – Other wasps 167
OTHER / unsure / uncategorised 1904

The type of pollinators you observed will also depend on the location and what the environmental conditions were like at the time. Recent and current weather can influence what insects are active on any given day. For example, flies and European honey bees might be observed more often in cooler locations, because they tend to be more active in cooler weather compared to native bees.

People in locations close to fire-affected areas may also have seen different types of pollinators than usual. Fire can affect insect populations positively or negatively, depending on the species, and could influence what insects are active in the area some months after the fires. Lots of other factors also influence what insects you see at the spot you’re counting, including the time of day, what sort of habitat is available in the surrounding area, even down to garden management practices, like mowing or spraying.

About 70% of the observational counts were conducted on exotic plants, compared to 30% counts on native plants. This could be because more people were counting in their own urban gardens due to lockdown travel restrictions. It could also reflect different flowering seasons, or flowering responses to environmental conditions. For example, some people noted that their gardens were mainly native species, but at the time of the count, only some exotic species were in flower.

This is one reason why we run the count in spring and autumn, as it’s a great opportunity to observe how flowering plants and active pollinators vary at the same location at different times of the year.

Thank you again, we really hope you enjoyed participating in our autumn count!

The spring count will run 8 to 15 November. You can keep up to date with our news by signing up to our e-news list, or on social media via the hashtags #WildPollinatorCount and #Ozpollinators.



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