Perennials for Pollinators Research: Pollinator Monitoring

Fairfield County OSU Extension is participating in a multi-year flora survey about pollinator preference, and Master Gardener Volunteers are collecting the data. This survey of native and introduced perennial plants is a collaborative effort between OSU Buckeye Environmental Horticulture Team, OSU Entomology, OSU Extension and The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Our garden is one of a dozen replicated sites across the state. The research plot includes 12 perennials that were planted by MGVs in May 2022. Highlights include Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks' (Rough Goldenrod), Vernonia lettermannii ‘Iron Butterfly’ (Letterman’s Ironweed), Allium ‘Summer Beauty’ (Ornamental Allium), and Helianthus salicifolius ‘Autumn Gold’ (Willow-leaved Sunflower). Plants were chosen to support a variety of pollinators and to offer nectar resources for the entire growing season.

Fairfield County Master Gardener Volunteers visit the site biweekly throughout the growing season, following a protocol to survey the quantity and variety of pollinators visiting each species in flower. Data collectors also note the number of blooms they see during each survey. This data is submitted to OSU’s Department of Entomology for analysis. Preliminary results show that in 2022 over 1,600 insects were observed in the 12 participating counties! The majority of observed pollinators were bees (1,019), but a variety of moths & butterflies (113), flies (264), wasps (33), and few other types of pollinators (214) were also reported visiting flowers. 

This year surveys resumed in June, and Master Gardener Volunteers have already started collecting observations for 2024! Collected data will help researchers at OSU determine how the different species of plants support different pollinators. This information is also being used to create charts that show when each of the plants are in high-bloom vs. low-bloom across the state, indicating the phenology of each species based on location. 

You can learn more about the project by visiting

Pollinator Monitoring Data Sheet