Do you have common ivy in your garden?

Have you seen a patch of mature common ivy (Hedera helix) flowering near you? Do you have a couple of minutes each week to film what insects are visiting the ivy flowers?

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A native potter wasp on ivy flowers.

A new international collaborative research project is looking at what insects visit ivy flowers in its native (UK) and introduced range. Ivy flowers in autumn, so it is an important pollen source for many pollinator insects as the winter months approach. In its introduced range where the plant has become invasive, information on its pollinators could help develop effective control methods.

The citizen science project is led by Fergus Chadwick (Trinity College, Dublin) and Professor Jeff Ollerton (University of Northampton). Dr Manu Saunders and Amy-Marie Gilpin (both University of New England) will be managing the Australian arm of the project.

The project needs citizen scientists to contribute weekly videos of insects visiting their local ivy patch!

Citizen Science Project Monitoring the Pollinators of Ivy

You can use any technology you like, even a smartphone. You just have to film at the same spot once a week during the flowering season and upload your video via the project’s Facebook page with some information about the location. Please make sure to read all the details in manual linked to below before getting started – it’s important that everyone’s contributions are filmed in the same way so we can compare data. We prefer videos to be uploaded on the Facebook page; however, if you are not a FB user and still want to contribute, you can email us your video and data to ivypollinatorsaustralia@gmail.com.

Ivy has already started flowering in some parts of Australia, so you may have missed the first few weeks! But please join in anyway – the project will continue again next year and you will have the opportunity to contribute to the full season then.

Note: Ivy is an introduced species and can be invasive in many parts of Australia. Therefore, we are not promoting planting of new ivy plants. This project is based on observations of established ivy plants.

If you are not sure whether you have found Hedera helix, visit this page for some photos and ID tips.

If you would like to get involved, please visit the project’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/PollinatorsofIvyMonitoringProjectAustralia/. You can find details on the project and how you can get involved in this document. Or you can email the project team at ivypollinatorsaustralia@gmail.com.

And don’t forget the National Wild Pollinator Count is on again soon, at its usual time. You can join in by counting pollinators on any flowering plants (not just ivy!) between 9-16 April.

 

Spring 2016 Results

Thanks to Tori Reynolds and Manuel Lequerica for analysing the spring 2016 data and writing this blog post!

 

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!

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Count locations from spring 2016 Wild Pollinator Count

 

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! Continue reading

Final Countdown!

There’s only one more day to do a Wild Pollinator Count! You can do a 10 minute count until Sunday night, November 20. The submission form will remain open until November 27, to give everyone time to submit observations.

If you took photos of any insects you counted as part of your submission, you can send your photos to us at wildpollinatorcount@gmail.com. Or you can share it with us via: our album on Flickr; by joining our Wild Pollinator Count project in Bowerbird; or by adding our hashtag #OzPollinators to your tweet on Twitter.

Thanks for joining in our Spring 2016 Wild Pollinator Count! Our data managers will post a summary of the results by mid-December.

Our next count will be in autumn 2017, from 9-16 April.

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A hover fly (top) and a drone fly (bottom) share a blossom. Both these flies belong to the same taxonomic family.

Wild Pollinator Count Starts!

Wild Pollinator Count starts this weekend, on Sunday November 13. You can do a pollinator count in your backyard or local park any time until next Sunday November 20. All you need is a spare 10 minutes to watch a flower!

All the instructions you need to do the count are here. And you can find some answers to some of our frequently asked questions here. You can submit your observations via the online form here. Also check out our helpful resources and links on these pages.

The submission form will remain open until November 27, but only observations conducted during the count week (13-20 November) can be accepted.

Happy Counting!

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The next Wild Pollinator Count is on soon. What’s it all about?

Spring has well and truly arrived! Have you seen any of the new season’s wild pollinators in your local patch yet?

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We’re only two months away from the next National Pollinator Count – it runs from 13-20 November. If you’ve missed the first few and are wondering what this event is all about, here’s a brief recap:

What’s it all about? The national Wild Pollinator Count started in November 2014. We started the count to raise awareness about Australia’s thousands of wild insect pollinators…not just our gorgeous native bees, but all the flies, butterflies, wasps, moths, and beetles that are so often overlooked. (There are plenty of birds, mammals and reptiles that also pollinate, but we just focus on insects). Many of these insects aren’t just full-time pollinators – they are also important to ecosystems in other ways, for example by providing natural pest control services. The count runs biannually, in the second full week of April (autumn) & November (spring), every year. We hope that participants will join in regularly, as this will give them the opportunity to keep track of seasonal patterns of wild pollinators and flowers in their local area.

Is this a citizen science project? There are many different definitions of a citizen science project. We think any project that encourages non-scientists to engage with scientific methods on a regular basis is a citizen science project. Our count protocol is based on standard scientific methods that pollination ecologists around the world use to collect data on pollinator insects. Having a standard counting method, which can be conducted at multiple locations within a set period of time, enhances the quality of our data. Continue reading

Searching for wild pollinators in winter

My partner and I do an Albury to south east Queensland road trip every year to visit my family. This year we holidayed during winter, which made the trip even more enjoyable. We left home just before a particularly cold Antarctic blast blew through town. But I wasn’t just looking forward to escaping the weather and catching up with friends. It had been a while since I’d seen any wild pollinators around Albury, so I was keen to spot some on our travels north. Continue reading

April 2016 Count Results

Thank you to everyone who participated in the April 2016 Wild Pollinator Count! Just over 200 observations were submitted from 86 locations, all the way from Buckleboo in South Australia to Cairns in North Queensland.

April 2016 map

Participants counted almost 2000 insects during flower observations. Some people included insects that flew past the flower without landing, but we haven’t included those numbers here. We also haven’t included ants, as these are often more likely robbing nectar rather than pollinating. European honey bees were the most abundant pollinator insects, followed by our native bees, butterflies and moths. And don’t forget the flies and wasps! Continue reading

Thank you for counting!

The autumn 2016 count is now over. Thanks to all who contributed observations!

The submission form will remain open until Sunday April 24 for you to submit your observations. From a quick glance through the observations we’ve received so far, residents from at least 5 states have participated. We’re looking forward to finding out what wild pollinators they’ve seen!

The next spring count will be on between 13-20 November 2016. In the meantime, you can still share any wild pollinator sightings and resources on social media using the #ozpollinators hashtag. We also have a Bowerbird project and a Flickr album you can view all year round.

Happy wild pollinator spotting!