Photo Credit : monarchparasites.org
Photo credit: monarchparasites.org
Monarch butterflies are a keystone pollinator species, and their larvae can be found on native milkweed species in many GAPP pollinator gardens during spring and summer.
Monarch Health is a citizen science program run by Dr. Sonia Altizer in the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia. It is targeted toward understanding host-parasite interactions in Monarch butterflies. The project relies on volunteers who sign up to conduct protozoan parasite testing on Monarchs in their area. The data will then be used by the organization to better understand the spread of a protozoan parasite across North America. Participants are mailed a free testing kit, and the procedure does not harm the Monarchs in any way.
Anyone who is interested in pollinator conservation and would like to help on a project that contributes to the scientific knowledge of a very important species can become involved with Monarch Health here http://www.monarchparasites.org.
Have you thanked a pollinator today?
There are other ways to get involved helping out your native pollinators besides providing them with habitat. You can also assist them by helping scientists! Researchers are studying pollinators to learn more about their foraging, nesting behaviors, cleptoparasitic behaviors, overwintering, etc. and they can use this knowledge to help conserve and protect pollinator species. It takes a lot of time to collect data, but you can help by reporting what you see from your own yard! This is called citizen science when volunteers report data to the scientists who are conducting the study. Citizen science is often used when a project needs data from a large area, such as tracking monarch butterfly migration.
The links provided below are places where you can go and look to see if citizen science is something that you would be interested in doing. If you have a pollinator garden already, observing the species that you see there can be another great way to help your pollinators!
“Bee on Redbud” Photo Credit: Sarah Meadows
The North American Butterfly Association is a place where you can submit your butterfly sightings. If you do not know the species names, you can submit a species and they have scientists that can identify the species for you. They will use the data to study butterfly conservation and distribution. http://www.nababis.org/ They also have another option for observing butterflies; this option is for people who are able to commit a few hours at a site and count every butterfly that they see. http://naba.org/butter_counts.html
The University of Minnesota is conducting a study about monarch butterflies. They are asking for long-term studies of sites containing milkweed plants or just reports of sightings of adult butterflies. http://www.mlmp.org/default.aspx
If bees are what you are interested in studying, this site is a great place to go. They are partnered with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. You need to have access to a camera to participate in this citizen science project; the pictures of bees that you take will be examined by species to verify the species. http://www.bumblebeewatch.org/contents/about/
Native ladybugs species are decreasing, and this study is dedicated to studying them and seeing their distribution. They are also asking participants to take pictures of the ladybugs they find. http://www.lostladybug.org/index.php
Join the league of volunteers who help collect scientific data for conservation projects across Georgia. The state is currently looking for volunteers to help with a national bat acoustic program run by The Georgia Departartment of Natural Resources wildlife division.
The project requires you to monitor bat populations twice a year with an acoustic tool known as “anabat” across a 30-mile transect.
Detailed instructions on volunteering for the conservation project can be found at the GA DNR website http://www.georgiawildlife.com/anabatproject