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 by mattschles mattschles, March 11, 2021 16:42


Where can I find descriptions of the ESNPS Pollinator Habitat categories?

Posted by xris 5 months ago (Flag)

Hi Chris,

We don't have definitions for those categories. They're really meant as broad habitat descriptors only. Please just choose whichever one(s) best match the area surrounding the observation.

Thanks, Matt

Posted by mattschles 5 months ago (Flag)

Add a Comment

Sign In or Sign Up to add comments