I-Pollinate is a citizen science research initiative, through the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, designed to collect state-wide pollinator data. I-Pollinate enlists citizen scientists to participate in three research projects and collect data on monarch egg and caterpillar abundance, pollinator visitation to ornamental flowers, and state bee demographics. Read below to learn more about each pollinator research project and participation requirements. If you are interested in participating and want more information, please fill out our information sign-up form.
Monarch response to garden variability
An important resource for monarch butterflies in their breeding range is milkweed plants, which their larvae need to feed on before they develop into adults. Monarch butterflies in the Midwest experience a wide variety of habitats, and many questions remain about how they respond to the different areas. We are interested in how monarch egg laying and caterpillar growth responds to different garden and landscape variables. We would like citizen scientists to collect data on garden monarch egg and larva abundance in order to better understand how much gardens contribute to monarch conservation.
Pollinator attraction to ornamental flowers
Home and community gardens commonly include a wide array of ornamental and native flower species, and these flowers may provide a variety of floral resources to pollinators. Unfortunately, there is limited information on pollinator attraction to different garden flowers, particularly ornamental annuals. Dr. Harmon-Threatt’s lab at UIUC is currently investigating which ornamental flower species attract pollinators and help create the best environment to host butterflies, bees, and flies. The lab hopes to enlist citizen scientists to observe ornamental flower species and collect pollinator visitation data to evaluate pollinator ornamental floral preferences.
Bee demographics and distributions
Many bee species have experienced population declines over the past decade, and long-term monitoring programs are essential in order to collect baseline bee population data and evaluate changes in bee abundance. This project is part of the larger BeeSpotter program and aims to establish long-term monitoring of Illinois honey bee and bumble bee populations. In order to perform statewide monitoring, we hope to engage citizen scientists across Illinois to take pictures of honey bees and bumble bees. With the help of citizen scientists, we can collect data which will help monitor and conserve honey and bumble bee populations across the state.
Monarch distribution and pollinator attraction projects
The monarch and pollinator attraction projects are done in conjunction, and data collection for these projects requires the installation of a small I-Pollinate research garden. Once the research garden has been set up, participants will need to register their bed online. Then, between June and September participants will spend a week each month collecting flower and pollinator data. Each month, participants will be asked to perform multiple 3- minute pollinator visitation surveys, examine milkweed plants for monarch eggs and caterpillars, and perform a flower survey. Ideally, participants would spend at least 2 hours each month collecting flower, monarch, and pollinator visitation data. However, participants do not need to perform a set number of pollinator or monarch surveys, and participation each month is not required. After data collection, participants will then submit data online or by mail.
Bee distribution and demographics
Participation in BeeSpotter can be done independently or in union with the monarch and pollinator attraction projects. Participants will need to create a BeeSpotter account and then take and submit photographs of honey bees and bumbles bees. More information about getting started with BeeSpotter can be found on the BeeSpotter website.