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Events highlight role of pollinators
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SOCIAL CIRCLE National Pollinator Week couldn't come at a more appropriate time in Georgia. The first of 14 butterfly counts across the state begin this month.
The purpose of the week, set for June 22-28 and recognized in a proclamation from Gov. Sonny Perdue, is to teach pollinator-friendly practices and raise awareness of the importance of the birds, bees, bats, beetles, butterflies, moths and flies needed to produce 80 percent of flowering plants and a third of food crops.
There is evidence some pollinator species in North America are
declining, according to the National Academy of Sciences. And Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon in which domesticated worker bees disappear from hives or colonies, has alarmed the agricultural industry.
As Georgia's butterflies flutter through the state again this year, biologists with the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) want to remind residents that butterflies are key pollinators for many flowering plants and crops.
DNR biologists and volunteers working with the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) are coordinating counts to provide a better idea of the status of butterfly populations in Georgia.
2008 marks the 34th year for the annual butterfly counts. The data volunteers collect is compiled into an annual report used by researchers to study geographical distribution and population sizes of species. Comparing years of data yields some of the best information for determining the health of individual butterfly species in Georgia.
Georgia's severe drought has devastated many of the plants used as food sources by caterpillars and nectar sources for adult butterflies. A vicious cycle has ensued. When butterfly populations decline, so do the plants and crops that depend on them for pollination.
Georgia is home to more than 160 butterfly species. While monarchs are the best known of the butterfly migrants, many other species, including cloudless sulphur, gulf fritillary, painted and American ladies, and Georgia's state butterfly, the tiger swallowtail, are also migratory, although the exact nature of their migratory flights is not well understood.
While most adult butterflies gather nectar from flowers, butterfly larva generally feed on leaves (with the exception of the one predatory species of butterfly found in Georgia, the harvester).  Some butterflies have very specific requirements for host plants. Others use a wide variety of plant species.
This year's butterfly counts will be held at 14 places around the state starting in mid-June. For a list of Georgia's butterflies and more information on how you can participate in the counts or other Pollinator Week activities, visit these Web sites: DNR Wildlife Resource (, the North American Butterfly Association (
counts.html) and
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