Some students are spending their summer exploring the power line right of ways in Rome, New York and Richfield, Ohio. They’re collecting pollinators.
"We collect insects in two different ways," ESF researcher Erica McPhail said. "We use aerial netting where we go through our plots with butterfly nets and catch all the species throughout the plot. We also use pan traps where we set out plastic party bowls filled with soapy water. The insects fall in and we catch a variety of things."
Utilities manage the landscape along the right of ways using herbicides and/or cutting. This research will help determine which method promotes more pollinators including bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and more.
"We’re looking into the plant community’s composition as well as the overhead coverage and seeing what that means for pollinator species, what species we’ll find there and how diverse the pollinators are," McPhail said. "We collect and bring our species back to the lab for identification. As you can see behind me, my lab techs are hard at work identifying the species we’ve found in the field"
Early results so far show the height of the plant life has an impact on the numbers.
"We have noticed in the areas with a lot more above six-foot coverage we are seeing a lot less pollinators just because there are a lot fewer flowers there’s a difference in the plant species composition," McPhail said.