Spring 2021 count results

A huge thank you to everyone who participated in the spring 2021 Wild Pollinator Count. It was the biggest response we’ve had to date, with over 3,500 count submissions. The weather was challenging in many parts of Australia during the count week in mid-November. We are grateful to everyone who undertook a count (or several) and to those who wanted to, but weather conditions thwarted their plans.

In all, those 3,500 submissions included 43,600 insects counted in our target categories!
We received more than 3,300 photos via email and our online form, more than 170 records were added to our iNaturalist project and many more of you shared images via social media. Thank you!

It was fantastic to receive submissions from right around Australia again in this round. The map below indicates each of the postcodes from which one or more submissions were received. The 883 unique postcodes include all states and territories.

Map of participating postcodes

Click to view as an interactive map

Here’s the summary of observations from the spring count, in the target categories:

CategoryIndividuals countedAs %
BEES – European honey bees23,79954.6%
BEES – Blue-banded bees8552.0%
BEES – Other bees3,1207.2%
BEETLES – Ladybird beetles7491.7%
BEETLES – Other beetles2,2835.2%
FLIES – Hover flies5,26912.1%
FLIES – Other flies4,60910.6%
WASPS – European wasps1550.4%
WASPS – Other wasps6031.4%
Table: Summary of 2021 Wild Pollinator Count spring count submissions

An additional 3,173 observations were noted as ‘other’ and ‘unsure’ visitors seen during counts.

It has taken some time to work through the submissions. We’ve replied to most requests for assistance with identification and apologise to those we didn’t. Please be assured that if you submitted photos, we have used them to confirm or adjust your submission.

You can admire some of the terrific participant photos in this gallery, which include many of the commonly seen insects this round. You can also view the photos added to our iNaturalist project.

We are grateful to those who provided additional details or photos as part of their submissions (which are optional, but always appreciated). Our count categories are intentionally broad, so that using our identifications tips, you can be confident classifying what you see. We appreciate that many participants have knowledge beyond those categories and shared more specific breakdowns of species seen or other notes.

We acknowledge and thank CERES Environment Park in Melbourne for their promotion of this round of the count. Submissions via their cross-promotion made up more than two-thirds of all submissions received this count!

Thanks to everyone who promoted the count through their networks, on social media or by running a count event. We love that schools and students, gardening and land stewardship groups, scouts and workplaces join the count.  It’s heartening to know there are so many people willing to get to know and contribute observations of these important insects.

As previously announced, we do not have any counts scheduled in 2022. We will be analysing and publishing the data from the counts to date, and reviewing the project, with the aim of making it even better.

We appreciate your feedback and suggestions for the count. We’re thrilled to have had your support and interest in the count, and your help in raising awareness towards the conservation of wild pollinator insects.

We look forward to letting you know what comes next, so please stay tuned.

Hover fly on Xerochrysum viscosum by Andy Russell
Hover fly on Xerochrysum viscosum submitted by Andy Russell

Results are in: Autumn 2021 count

Thank you to everyone who participated in our autumn count this year. The weather during the count week was less than ideal for pollinator spotting in many parts of the country, with our great continent living up to its diverse nature! This is a great example of how unpredictable field-based science can be – the best laid plans can be dashed at the last minute by bad weather.

We received just over 580 usable records this count from over 200 unique postcode locations (click on the image below to view interactively in Google Maps). Records came in from all states and territories.

Over 4,500 individual insects were observed in our count categories. Again, the European honey bee was the most commonly observed flower visitor, followed by our native bees.

Count categoryNumber of individualsPercentage of all categories
BEES – European honey bees2,28450.6%
BEES – Blue-banded bees1804.0%
BEES – Other bees77817.2%
BEETLES – Ladybird beetles581.3%
BEETLES – Other beetles410.9%
FLIES – Hoverflies2756.1%
FLIES – Other flies3648.1%
WASPS – European wasps831.8%
WASPS – Other wasps350.8%

Most of the flowering plants that were observed were exotic (67%), with the remainder being native (33%). Similar to other counts, this is likely because many people are doing counts in their gardens where we tend to find a higher proportion of exotic plants.

Only a few records were not able to be included in our data, as they didn’t meet the reporting requirements – the most common issues were counts that entered estimated numbers in the categories (e.g. ‘over 100’) instead of actual counts, and counts that observed multiple flowers or whole sections of a garden, rather than focusing on a single plant species.

Thank you again, we really appreciate you participating and hope you enjoyed counting as much as we did!

Check out the photo gallery from this count, with thanks to people who gave us permission to share their photos showcasing our diverse backyard pollinating insects. You can also find our project on iNaturalist as usual – and don’t forget you can continue adding your iNat pollinator observations to our project year round.

Look forward to seeing you again next count!

Lesser Wanderer butterflies, Danaus petilia, by Philippa Gillett

Spring 2020 results are here!

It took us a little longer than usual to collate results this year, for understandable reasons! It’s been a challenging year, and we hope you’re all keeping safe and well.

The spring count happened 8-15 November 2020. We received just over 1000 submitted observations (1028 usable records, 18 were removed for incomplete data) representing over 12,000 insects! This is a drop from our all-time submissions record in autumn 2020 (in the midst of the first COVID lockdowns!), but still well above last spring’s count. Thank you to all who participated during what has been a difficult year for all of us.

Continue reading “Spring 2020 results are here!”

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? Continue reading “Autumn 2020 count results”

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)! Continue reading “Spring 2019 count results!”

Autumn 2019 results: our biggest count yet!

Big thanks to everyone who participated in our 10th Wild Pollinator Count in autumn. With 629 submissions from 266 localities, this was not only our biggest autumn count (previous record was 363) but it surpassed our all-time record as well (600 submissions from last spring).

See the locations from which submissions came on this interactive map. We’re delighted to note all states and territories are represented.

In total, 5,806 insects were recorded across our submission categories:

Number as %
Bees – European honey bees 3,283 56.5%
Bees – Blue-banded bees 274 4.7%
Bees – Other bees 865 14.9%
Beetles – Ladybird beetles 128 2.2%
Beetles – Other beetles 103 1.8%
Butterflies and moths 340 5.9%
Flies – Hover flies 199 3.4%
Flies – Other flies 468 8.1%
Wasps – European wasps 34 0.6%
Wasps – Other wasps 112 1.9%
Total 5,806

Insects reported

As well as recording more insects than previous rounds (thanks in part to the increase in observations submitted), this count included more honey bees as a percentage of sightings (57%) than previous autumn counts (for example, they were 46% of last autumn’s observations). Blue banded bee percentages were fairly similar this autumn (about 5%) to last (at 6%). However ‘other bees’ came in this year at about 15%, yet made up 27% a year ago. These are mostly, but not always, native bees. We again had some bumble bee records from Tasmania this round, and they fall in this same category. Continue reading “Autumn 2019 results: our biggest count yet!”

Spring 2018: Results are in!

Thank you to everyone who submitted observations to Wild Pollinator Count for Spring 2018.

We broke all our count records! Just over 600 observations of more than 6700 insects were submitted to Wild Pollinator Count from 182 unique locations. We covered all states and territories, except the Northern Territory. Continue reading “Spring 2018: Results are in!”

Autumn 2018 Results

Thanks to Mark Hall (@linearecology) for collating the data and writing up the post for this count.


Once more, the Wild Pollinator count was a big success thanks to all the participants who shared their observations with us. For the autumn 2018 count, we received a new autumn record of 329 submissions from 117 localities including every state and territory in Australia. It’s great to see the growing number of participants each year since the project started and what this means for the knowledge and enthusiasm for our important and diverse pollinators.

autumn 2018 map

Over 2500 insects were counted (which is again an increase from previous years – around 200 more than the last autumn count). As usual, we excluded ants from the data table, as it’s very difficult to know from observations whether ants are acting as nectar thieves rather than effective pollinators. Continue reading “Autumn 2018 Results”

Spring 2017 Results

Thank you again to everyone who counted pollinators in the seventh National Wild Pollinator Count! We’ve reached more locations in Australia this count than before. It’s wonderful to see how many people love counting pollinators. We received many comments from people noting how much they enjoyed the opportunity to relax with nature and observe the little animals we share our environment with.

This count, we received 458 observations from 126 locations around Australia – our highest number yet.

nov 2017 locactions

Participants counted over 4800 insects. And European honey bees were not the most-counted flower visitor: flies (1256 total counts) won the numbers this time! The results highlight how many non-bee insects are visiting, and often pollinating, our favourite flowers.

Insect group
European honey bees 1182
Blue banded bees 108
Other native bees 820
Ladybird beetles 132
Other beetles 853
Butterflies/moths 324
Hoverflies 395
Other flies 861
European wasps 13
Other wasps 130

A total of 155 different types of plants were observed across Australia in this count. Similar to previous counts, more of these were exotic plants (58%) than native species (42%). The most commonly-watched flowering plants included common introduced garden herbs, like dandelions, borage, coriander, parsley, lavender and salvia, as well as popular natives, like grevilleas, callistemon, Wahlenbergia (native bluebells) and dianella.

The weather was a little unpredictable in many parts of Australia and, after the warmer than average winter, this may have influenced what you saw in your backyard. You can find results from previous counts here.

Hope you can join in next time, for the autumn 2018 count from 8-15 April, to see how things compare!

Native stingless bee in a Brisbane backyard.


Autumn 2017 Results

Many thanks to Manuel Lequerica for analysing the data and writing our results post!

Once more, the Wild Pollinator count was a big success thanks to all the participants who shared their observations with us. For the autumn 2017 count, we received an autumn record of 310 submissions from 112 localities including every state and territory in Australia. For the first time, we had participants from Northern Territory, which is an exciting indicator of how much we have grown since the project started!

More than 2300 insects were counted (around 400 more than on the last autumn count). As usual, we excluded ants from the count, as they are most often nectar thieves rather than effective pollinators. Other insects and vertebrates that were recorded without making direct contact with the plants were also excluded from the count.

As usual, honey bees were the most abundant visitors, with almost 1300 occurrences, followed by all other bees. Although the number of butterflies, moths, and wasps this year was not as high as on the 2016 Autumn count, the number of blue banded bees, beetles, hoverflies, and other flies was much higher than on any of the previous Autumn counts.

For the first time, a Bumble bee was recorded in Tasmania. This exotic pollinator was introduced to the island from Europe, and until today it has not been recorded in mainland. It is important to monitor the presence of bumble bees – and other exotic species – because their potential effects on native fauna and flora could be negative.

Wild pollinator Number counted
European honey bee 1236
Blue banded bee (native) 167
Other native bee 371
Ladybird beetles 37
Butterflies and moths 115
Hoverflies 95
Other flies 174
European wasp 7
Other wasps 41

As seen in the previous Autumn counts, the proportion of native and honey bees was very different from the spring count. On this count, only 23% of the bees were native (instead of the 44% recorded during the 2016 spring count), while the remaining 77% were honey bees. This interesting pattern could be explained by either of two reasons, or an interaction of both. Firstly, many native bees prefer higher temperatures, thus their activity levels are much higher during the warmest months of the year. On the other hand, the European honey bee is adapted to more temperate climates, which allows it to remain active during the colder months of the year. Secondly, more flowers bloom during spring, which can be translated as an increase in food (nectar and pollen) availability for the native pollinators, which are adapted to the flowering patterns of Australian plants.

The number of plant species observed dropped from 180, in the spring count, to 81 on the 2017 autumn. This result reflects the decrease in floral activity as the days shorten and the temperature reduces while the southern hemisphere approaches winter. Not surprisingly, 63% of the observed plants were exotic, which may be adapted to colder climates (if they have a temperate origin) and only 30 species (the remaining 37%) were native. The most commonly observed native plants were Grevillea, Banksia, and Melaleuca; while the most frequent exotic ones included mostly culinary herbs like Basil, Rosemary, and Salvia. Despite the higher abundance of exotic plants, most native bees were observed visiting native plants, although not exclusively.

We are very pleased with the quality of the data received by the participants. Valuable annotations on weather conditions, behaviour of pollinators, and pictures complemented the basic information about pollinators and the plants they visited. Another fantastic thing to see was people submitting zero values in the count. This type of data is very valuable for us, because it helps us understand the selection criteria of insects, and allows us to make inferences on insect flower preferences.

Many thanks to everyone who participated on the 2017 autumn edition of the Wild Pollinator Count. Some of the fantastic pictures that were submitted have been uploaded to our Flickr page, so click on the link and have a look at all the astonishing diversity of winged friends and their plant allies! Stay tuned for updates, and don´t forget to check our hashtag #ozpollinators on Twitter throughout the year.

See you at the spring Wild Pollinator Count which will take place between November 12 and 19.