The Wild Pollinator Count is on again, and New England residents are invited to take part

BUG WATCH: University of New England postdoctoral research fellow Manu Sauders is calling on the community to get busy in the backyard.
BUG WATCH: University of New England postdoctoral research fellow Manu Sauders is calling on the community to get busy in the backyard.

THOUSANDS of creepy-crawlies call Australia home, but how many of them live in your backyard?

The national Wild Pollinator Count is asking residents to spend ten minutes outside to find out.

“Insects are in trouble around the world, no question,” University of New England insect ecologist Manu Saunders said.

“In Australia we have little understanding of most of our invertebrates, 70 per cent of which haven’t even been described.

“We know very little about where they are, where they live, what they do and how they are affected by human activities.”

Starting the count on a shoestring budget, Ms Saunders wants locals to be curious about Australia’s wild pollinators.

Observations made by the community will help to build a better picture of what flowers the insects pollinate and where they occur.

Completing a PhD in 2013, Ms Saunders was struck by how little people knew about bugs and their role in the ecosystem.

“I was talking to farmers in Victoria and found that many only knew about European honeybees and were surprised to learn that native bees and flies are also vital for crop pollination,” she said.

“We know that chemical use and land clearing affect these important pollinators, but their ecology and distribution largely remains a mystery.”

Anyone in Australia can take part in the World Pollinator Count, also held in April each year.

It’s held twice a year because pollinator communities change with the seasons.

Pollinators include blowflies, hoverflies, moths, beetles, butterflies, wasps and the pesky mosquito.

Every year more people take part, Ms Saunders said.

“Most people have no idea there are so many insects in their backyard,” she said.

“We just rarely stop to admire them, there’s a real excitement in studying insects, it’s like a treasure hunt.” Amateur naturalists can take part in the Wild Pollinator Count from Sunday until November 19. For more information visit wildpollinatorcount.com.