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Researchers taking inventory of polinating insects   arrow

A team from Southern Illinois Univeristy Carbondale visited flowers in the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge and the Shawnee National Forest. Its members are looking out for bees, butterflies, moths, flies, and beetles.

The team is conducting a comprehensive pollinator inventory on federally owned lands in South Illinois. The survey is part of a larger study that includes flowering cover crops for weed management and water quality enhancement.

Sedonia Sipes, associate professor of plant biology, is leading the team doing the pollinator insect survey. It’s a major undertaking. The team’s goal is visiting fifty sites in crab orchard and in the Shawnee National Forest. She and student researchers are collecting pollinators from different habitat types, and will return to some of these sites each season.

On any given day, three to five teams of two to three students each are collecting pollinators using pan traps and netting. The pan traps, which catch a wider area of insects than otherwise, are small bowls filled with water colored to attract pollinators.

Field days are long days for the researchers, and begin at sunrise and end late in the evening. Graduate students Leila Kassim and Chris Sedivy determine which sites they will visit, predicting which will have the best floral resources depending on the season.

“It’s a learning curve,” graduate student Casey Bryan said. “But it’s exciting to describe a population that has never been inventoried.”

“I used to work in the pollination lab as an undergraduate under Sedonia Sipes,” she said. “I heard about this opportunity while living and working in Colorado. I decided to come back for graduate school to be a part of this project.”