Help keep track of pollinators in Georgia

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 2:24 PM EDT
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - You can find lots of wildlife in Georgia and South Carolina, from animals to bugs.

People in some areas, however, are concerned that they’re seeing less of bees and butterflies.

“I would probably say at least 70 percent less,” said Patrick McNamara, who lives near Thunderbolt.

Some people that live in Thunderbolt are reporting seeing fewer bees and butterflies this year than they have in years past. And though there is no data specific to the Thunderbolt area, a biologist said this could be a symptom of the larger decline in pollinator populations worldwide.

“It’s been observed repeatedly in Europe and North America that general insect numbers seem to be dropping quite a bit. Our honeybees in particular have been struggling for a number of years,” said Dr. Alan Harvey, a professor of biology at Georgia Southern University.

That could be due to several factors. Harvey says general climate change, pesticides, fungi, and parasites have all contributed to declining pollinator populations- which has scientists all around the world concerned.

“Directly, it would be an environmental catastrophe if insect numbers do plummet to the numbers that some folks are concerned about, but it’s also sort of a canary in the coal mine thing,” Dr. Harvey said.

Because declining pollinator populations will only lead to more environmental problems. Dr. Harvey says there are small ways that people can help, like starting their own bee colonies and keeping flowering plants around.

He says they can also take part in the Great Georgia Pollinator Census, which helps track populations in specific areas.

“Certainly the folks in Thunderbolt if they’re concerned about this, they should really be involved in this project because it has been going on for a while. If there is an issue that’s unique to that area, this would be the easiest way I can think of at getting some information available so people like me can look at it and say, yeah, those numbers seem abnormally low,” he said.

The Pollinator Census is taking place this Friday and Saturday.

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