September 03, 2021

Message from Project Coordinators

Hi All, Thank you for your continued interest in the Empire State Native Pollinator Survey. This is a reminder that we will be accepting photo observations for all years until the end of September. Recall that we will not be accepting specimen vouchers this year, but please upload your photos of native pollinators by Sept. 30, 2021 to our iNaturalist page: ( Please ensure your pollinator observations are included in the Survey by getting them in by this deadline. We will be analyzing the data collected during the ESNPS this fall and writing a final report and conducting our conservation status assessment this winter and spring.

In addition, if you are skilled in identification of any of our focal taxa, please lend your talents to identifying photos! Here's a link to a query of our focal taxa in NY that have "Needs ID" rather than "Research Grade": While some of these may not be identifiable, many probably are.

All the best,

Erin and Matt

Posted on September 03, 2021 20:49 by mattschles mattschles | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 11, 2021

ESNPS is accepting observations in 2021!

Pollinator enthusiasts,

Hope this message finds you well. I have good news: we have extended the photographic portion of the Empire State Native Pollinator Survey for one more field season! Because of the pandemic, some things couldn't happen in 2020 on the timeline we'd hoped, and we are extending the end date of the project into spring 2022. That means our various datasets (iNat, specimens from our own field work and partners', museum data, etc.) don't need to be final until early this fall. So while we aren't accepting specimen submissions this last year, we won't download our final dataset from iNaturalist until September. Since spring has sprung (at least for a few days) here in March, perhaps you can find some early insect activity now. We'll accept submissions until September 30.

Poring over the data from the last three years has allowed us to make some suggestions for targets for this final year (really) of the ESNPS:

1) Some bees, especially small ones, are really hard to ID to species from photos, no matter how good they (the photos) are. While most of our focal taxa range from 80-90% identified, based on the number attaining Research Grade, only 29% of the Andrenidae, 42% of the Megachilidae, and 29% of the Halictidae have attained RG status as of January 2021. ID of many species in these families relies on characters that just cannot be seen in most photographs. While this does not suggest that you shouldn't submit photos of tiny bees--might as well try--focusing on other taxa might make for a greater contribution to the project.

2) Keep those photos of long-horned beetles, scarab beetles, hover flies, and bee flies coming! Many species in our dataset so far are represented by very few observations.

3) If you're into the clearwing moths (Hemaris spp., within the sphinx moth family), and who isn't?, note that there are now four recognized species in NY: the reasonably common hummingbird clearwing (H. thysbe) and snowberry clearwing (H. diffinis), the apparently rare slender clearwing (H. gracilis), and the newly described Diervilla clearwing (H. aethra), the latter of which occurs in northern NY and is very hard to distinguish from H. diffinis (if you're interested, see for a link to the 2018 species description). H. thysbe, H. diffinis, and H. gracilis are identifiable from leg color, back color, and wing pattern ( To maximize the chance of a good ID, take multiple photos if possible and include the back, legs, and wings at rest, if you're lucky enough to find them at rest.

4) The following counties are undersampled: Chenango, Cortland, Fulton, Lewis, Montgomery, Orleans, Tioga, and Yates. These counties are generally less populated and less visited too! If you're looking for a summer outing, surveying in undersampled parts of the state is a great way to contribute to the project. Or look on the map of all observations on the main project page and find gaps in coverage to target.

5) Our "target habitats" in the project include dunes, late-successional forests, alpine meadows, peatlands and barrens. These are habitat types we expected would contain interesting pollinator fauna that we made sure to sample separately from our broad-brush "extensive" surveys, But we couldn't hit all examples, not by a long shot. Lake and ocean dunes could use more surveys especially. These and other habitat types where the flora are unique should contain interesting pollinators, so photographing in those habitats should be especially helpful for the project.

Thanks for your continued interest and have a great and safe 2021!

  • Matt Schlesinger, project co-coordinator

Posted on March 11, 2021 16:42 by mattschles mattschles | 2 comments | Leave a comment

November 04, 2020

Final call for data

Hello everyone. We're looking forward to downloading a final dataset from iNaturalist this winter. Here's a relevant message from Erin White, Project Coordinator:

Hi All, Thanks to all of you who have submitted photos to iNaturalist and specimens to us already. We have had a lot of activity on iNaturalist with now over 20,000 observations! Several participants have turned in data forms and specimens from your summer survey work. Everyone has done a fabulous job with pinning and note-taking. Thanks for helping to document native pollinator records!

If you have any late-season finds (or still have photos or specimens), now is the time to get your data in. We need to receive all photos, data sheets and specimens by Friday, November 30th. It is important to receive your information soon so experts can work on identification and we have time to analyze and write up a final report on the project, as this is our last year.

Please contact me at if you have forms and specimens to submit and please be sure to upload your pollinator photos to iNaturalist. Please refer to the Participant Handbook and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

We appreciate your help!


Posted on November 04, 2020 20:36 by mattschles mattschles | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 03, 2020

ESNPS call for data

Hi all,

It's the FINAL YEAR of data collection for the Empire State Native Pollinator Survey, barring some budgetary miracle and/or wealthy benefactor. (About equally unlikely.) You have amassed an incredible number of records of the project's focal taxa and we thank you for all your observations over the past three years. This winter we will begin to compile data from all sources (iNaturalist, recent specimen collections, museum collections, partner datasets) to yield the most complete picture of the distribution and status of NY's native pollinators. Our report will be complete at the end of 2021.

To that end, please see Project Coordinator Erin White's call for data (which some of you may have received separately as well), pasted below. If you have photographs you've been waiting for fall to submit to iNaturalist, now's the time. And if you have expertise in our focal taxa, please help with identifications. We'd love to get as many observations in as possible by Sept. 30. Of course observations and identifications may still be made afterward, but later in fall we'll download the data from iNat and work with that static dataset for our final report, so don't wait too long!

Thanks for everything,

Hi All,

I’ve heard from many of you individually this summer and thank you for your continued effort to document our native pollinators in NY! It is that time of year to work on getting your data compiled and sent to us at the NY Natural Heritage Program.

Thanks to all of you who have submitted photos this season! We have had a lot of activity on our ESNPS iNaturalist page ( If you have taken photographs for the project that you have not submitted yet, please upload these to our iNaturalist project. For detailed instructions on how to submit photos, please refer to our Participant Handbook beginning on page 17 (

If you completed hand-netting or bowl-trapping surveys, please work on getting your specimens processed and pinned and data sheets compiled. For details on how to produce high quality pinned specimens, please refer to the Handbook beginning on page 29. We will only be able to accept specimens that have been properly processed and pinned. One of our project Advisors, Sam Droege from USGS, has made specimen pinning videos available (links below) and we pretty much follow these techniques. There are slight differences, so I urge you to also read our Handbook.

Please reach out to me if you have specimens to submit and we can make arrangements to meet in Albany for a specimen exchange or we can discuss how you can ship your specimens to us (also found on page 38 of the Handbook).

Please submit data (photos, data sheets, specimens) by Wednesday, September 30th. It is important that we receive your data by this date to allow us time to database your information and identify vouchers this fall and winter. Any late season observations can still be made and we’ll put another call for these out in November. Please work on getting your early season-Sept. data to us by the end of September. This is especially important as it is our final year of the project and our experts need ample time to make identifications.

Thank you so much for your efforts! Please e-mail me with any questions at

Stay safe and healthy,

How to Dry Bees, Sam Droege

How to Pin Specimens, Sam Droege

Posted on September 03, 2020 14:26 by mattschles mattschles | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 21, 2020

A message from Project Coordinator Erin White

It's the planned final year of data collection for the ESNPS, and Erin sent this message to project participants who've signed up for project information ( It's relevant to everyone contributing via iNaturalist. Hope you are finding solace in nature in these challenging times.


Hi All, I just wanted to touch base with all of our ESNPS project participants as insects are beginning to fly this season! We are continuing with our Survey and our field sampling efforts in 2020, which is year 3 of the project. As travel in the state is limited this season, each record from our participants will be even more important to help us reach more areas in the state. Getting outdoors locally is a great way to help out the project, get exercise, and get a break from being indoors at home, if you feel comfortable doing so. While our focus is on natural habitats of meadows, wetlands, and woods, also remember that roadsides and your backyard floral resources can offer opportunities for seeing pollinator target species as well.
Whatever your level of participation this season, please remember to keep your health and safety the top priority while doing pollinator surveys. Please always follow the recommendations of local health authorities for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Here are some suggestions to ensure your Survey activities align with current recommendations:

• Keep at least six feet of distance between you and others while surveying. Use a mask or face covering when social distancing is not possible. Meet other surveyors at the survey site and travel there separately if you do not live in the same household. Cover your cough and sneezes. Use your elbow or a tissue. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Avoid sharing equipment such as insect nets and phones or cameras. Bring your own. If doing bowl sampling, assign one person to deploy and collect the bowls and be responsible for the samples and processing, or split up the bowl transects to avoid handling the same equipment. If hand-netting, maintain your own collections if keeping specimens or use your own camera if taking photos.
• Avoid touching communal surfaces such as railings and doorknobs at public sites. If you touch these surfaces, wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
• Double check to make sure the place you are going is open and respect restrictions and closures. (Remember, it is up to you to obtain landowner permission for survey work. See the participant handbook for details.)

The Cornell bee course (May 18-20) was cancelled and participants were notified individually, as there are no gatherings allowable on Cornell campus in May. We are looking into whether we can hold the course later in the year. We are holding off on making decisions about our public workshops in May and June and will keep you posted as we re-evaluate the situation as the dates approach.

Thank you all for your continued support of this project and stay safe and healthy this season.


Posted on April 21, 2020 12:46 by mattschles mattschles | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 10, 2020

2019 project summary

Project Coordinator Erin White has put together a summary of the 2019 project effort, which includes a summary I compiled of the substantive contributions made by the iNaturalist community. Note that the iNat summary includes all of our focal taxa in New York, not just ones tagged to the ESNPS project specifically.

Enjoy the read and we'll be in touch this spring!

Posted on February 10, 2020 19:47 by mattschles mattschles | 2 comments | Leave a comment

October 11, 2019

Happy Autumn

Nothing makes an August post trumpeting "4,000 observations" look older than seeing that the project total has nearly doubled since then! Congratulations, everyone! As of this writing, we've cracked 700 species reported to the ESNPS, including many of our focal bees, flies, beetles, and moths. We've gotten confirmations of rare bumble bees like Bombus borealis, B. citrinus, B. fervidus, B. pensylvanicus, and B. terricola; records of rare flies like the wonderfully named Bare-cheeked Bumble Fly (Criorhina nigriventris); and new observations of the rarely encountered hairy flower scarab beetles (genus Trichiotinus) and the flower moths (genus Schinia). Observations on the more common pollinators are also important, as the distribution of these species in NY has never before been fully documented.

We've also wrapped up our second of three years of statewide sampling, and are busily preparing specimens to identify them to species with the help of experts at Cornell University and SUNY Cobleskill. We realize that collecting insects isn't for everyone, which is one of the reasons we're so glad iNaturalist exists. Still, some species cannot be reliably identified from photographs, and a comparison of confirmed records from iNat and our specimen work will help future projects determine when high-quality photography can substitute for specimen collection. So by contributing to this iNat project, in addition to contributing to our understanding of the distribution of so many insect species in New York, you're also furthering the broader field of community science.

Now's the season for catching up with submitting photos if you fell behind during the warmer months. Or if you have a stash of pollinator photos from NY from previous years that you've been hoping to put to use, load them up here! We can make use of insect records from any time period.

As always, thank you for your contributions. I'll be back in touch this winter with some summaries of our findings to date.

Posted on October 11, 2019 19:41 by mattschles mattschles | 1 comment | Leave a comment

August 13, 2019

4,000 observations!

Thank you, everyone, for your dedication in documenting New York's native pollinators. We recently broke 4,000 observations and 600 species reported in the last two years! The data you are collecting will be invaluable in determining how these insects are doing in our state. We've already learned so much about the distributions of some of our less common species.

If you have expertise in these taxa--our focal bees, flies, beetles, and moths especially--please look through the set of observations, or query for certain species groups, to see if you can help identify any of the species whose observations are not yet at Research Grade. This is a great activity for a rainy day, a slow lunch hour, or any other downtime you may encounter.

And keep those field observations coming! You can expect to find pollinating insects active on any warm, sunny day as late as October, so there's plenty of time left to contribute in this second of three project years.

Posted on August 13, 2019 20:33 by mattschles mattschles | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 15, 2019

National Pollinator Week

Next week--June 17 to 23--is National Pollinator Week, and what better way to contribute to pollinator conservation than to document native pollinator species for the ESNPS? You can help determine how New York's native insects, which have co-evolved with native plants for thousands of years, are handling the threats of pesticides, habitat loss, and the climate crisis by contributing your observations here.

There have been some interesting observations rolling in, despite the wet and generally uncooperative spring weather. Many people estimate that Mother Nature is about two weeks behind schedule. Summer seems genuinely around the corner, though, and as temperatures warm and the sun makes multi-day appearances, insect activity should pick up. Grab your camera and be ready for it!

Find registered Pollinator Week events here:

Posted on June 15, 2019 02:44 by mattschles mattschles | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 19, 2019

Year 2 of the ESNPS is here!

And suddenly, there are flowers everywhere. Spring has arrived in full, and despite the lingering snow in some parts of our large state, insects have started emerging in many places on the warmer days. Here in Albany, I'm seeing bees curiously exploring the early-blooming shrubs and I'm ready to get out and start photographing.

I hope you are too! Early spring is a great time for pollinator photography. Some species of hover flies and bees are unique to early spring, and the colder temperatures mean potentially more cooperative subjects. Please help make year 2 of the Empire State Native Pollinator Survey even more successful than the first by contributing your photographs of pollinating bees, hover flies, beetles, and moths to this project. For our complete list of specific focal taxa, see, where you can also find our Participant Handbook and other project materials.

In addition to this iNaturalist project, we are recruiting volunteers to collect specimens opportunistically or by using our full project protocol, which our staff are already deploying around the state. (Some species cannot be identified reliably from photographs because of microscopic characters. Collecting isn't for everyone, but directed research has shown little effect of scientific collection on local insect populations.) We have announced several workshops around the state this spring and summer to train project participants. See There you can also register as a project participant or sign up just to stay in the loop.

Happy spring, and happy photographing! Thank you for your participation.

Posted on April 19, 2019 15:30 by mattschles mattschles | 0 comments | Leave a comment