Bees, butterflies and bugs are some of the important pollinators that help generate spectacular wildflower displays, produce delicious crops and sustain native plants. They can’t do their part without the plants and the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz is helping bring attention to the critical habitat needs of pollinators across the state during the height of the annual fall Monarch migration.
The Texas Pollinator BioBlitz is a statewide effort to observe and identify as many pollinators as possible from Oct. 7-16. Participants in this virtual treasure hunt will search for pollinators such as bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, birds and other animals and post about them on Instagram or iNaturalist.
“This Pollinator BioBlitz is going to be a tremendous help to us because monarchs and other pollinators are in trouble,” said Nancy Herron, director of outreach and education for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). “The monarch is losing habitat and important larval and adult food resources. As a result, its population across the eastern United States, Canada and Mexico has declined by nearly 80 percent over the past 20 years.”
People of all ages and experience levels can participate and the only tools needed are a camera or smartphone and access to the Internet. Anyone wishing to participate in the challenge can register for free on the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz page on the TPWD website.
Helpful guides are online, and registrants will be emailed fun, daily challenges that require no experience. The daily challenges, which include options such as photographing a brightly colored pollinator, food that has benefited from pollinators, video of people planting pollinator gardens, the creepiest pollinator and even your pollinator spirit animal.
To submit the challenges, participants can post their images or short videos on Instagram using #SaveThePollinators, or on iNaturalist, which contributes to the citizen science data collection. Also, many of our parks and partners are hosting special events at their sites. An event calendar is on the TPWD website.
“It is our hope that his project helps create buzz about these important animals and encourages people to plant native gardens for pollinators,” said Herron. “In addition to monarchs, 30 native pollinator/flower-visiting species are designated as species of greatest conservation need. Along with bats, hummingbirds, wasps, flies and beetles, these creatures are crucial to sustain native plant species, human food crops and crops for livestock.”
Fall is the prime time to plant pollinator gardens, which are a great way to lure monarchs and other important creatures to urban and suburban neighborhoods. Plants such as the native Texas milkweeds, frostweed and the autumn sage are great for pollinators. A regional Texas plant list can be found online on the Monarch Watch website.
For more information about pollinators, visit the TPWD Monarch Conservation page.
Two radio episodes about monarchs at the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz can be found on the Passport to Texas website.
A video news report about the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz can be found on the TPWD YouTube page.