An extreme close-up of a purple coneflower with a butterfly on it.
Purple coneflowers are among plants that provide nectar for moths and butterflies through late summer and early fall. Photo by H. N. Kolich, UGA Extension

Heather N. Kolich, ANR Agent, UGA Extension Forsyth County

On August 18th and 19th, community members across Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina will count pollinators as part of the fifth annual Great Southeast Pollinator Census ( In the past three years, over 23,000 census counts were submitted and over 333,000 insects were counted. Since we have transitioned from a Georgia program to a Southeast program, we are looking forward to welcoming more counters.

Participants are asked to spend 15 minutes observing a “favorite” pollinator plant and counting the insects that land on it. A “favorite” pollinator plant is one that shows an abundance of insect activity. Counters place the insects they count into one of eight categories:

bumble bees, carpenter bees, small bees, honey bees, wasps, flies, butterflies/moths, other insects

The goals of the project are to gather data on our pollinator insect population, to create sustainable pollinator habitat (over 2,000 new pollinator gardens have been created in Georgia since the first census in 2019), and to increase entomological literacy around these insects. The project is housed on a website (Https:// ) that contains all the information needed to be part of the project. The Insect Counting and Identification Guide gives detailed instructions on counting, a video explains the process, and counting sheets are available for downloading. Pollinator enthusiasts can sign up for a monthly newsletter full of information on pollinator gardening and insect identification. 

A chart of common and scientific names for 20 popular pollinators.
These summer-blooming plants are a great choice to observe for your Great Southeast Pollinator Census counts. Image from

This project is perfect for schools doing STEAM work. Although the pollinator count only lasts for two days, GSePC activities happen year-round. Under the “educators” tab of the website, teachers will find all the resources needed for their classrooms to successfully participate, including lesson plan links. Educational pieces are posted on the Southeast Pollinator Census Facebook page and the @SoutheastPollinators Instagram page. Students can use their environmental education experience and the pollinator data they collected in classroom lessons and feel empowered to be a part of an important initiative.

The project is a natural fit for families who want to participate in insect conservation. On Saturday, August 19, Forsyth County Extension Master Naturalist and Master Gardener volunteers are hosting family-friendly pollinator census activities at several of the public gardens they manage (see Upcoming Extension Classes). There will be a special guest buzzing about at the Bethelview garden.

Please join us in protecting our pollinators one count at a time. For more information contact your local UGA Cooperative Extension office or Becky Griffin, project coordinator, at