In 2019, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension organized the first ever Great Georgia Pollinator Census. Citizen scientists from across the state counted pollinators such as butterflies, bees, wasps, and flies, and other insects (everything from praying mantises to beetles). We visited the Cherokee Lake Pollinator Garden in Thomasville during the count.
How healthy is the pollinator population in Georgia?
“You never would have thought nature was so intriguing.” There’s a small crowd around an overturned leaf, looking at what appears to be a shiny bird poop. Two Thomas University students make note of it on their clipboards. The poop they’re looking at is, in actuality, the caterpillar of the giant swallowtail butterfly. It’s on its host plant, the common hop tree (Ptelea trifoliata), a member of the citrus family native to north America.
We’re at the Cherokee Lake Pollinator Garden, a stone’s throw from one of Thomasville’s better known attractions, its Rose Garden. It’s late August, and the place is swarming with insects of all sizes, colors, and shapes. The students, along with volunteers of all ages, are here to take part in the first ever Great Georgia Pollinator Census.