Helping our Urban Insects

» Join the Somerville Pollinator Project!

Insects are in trouble, but we can do something about it right where we live! Join us and help our community pollinators, the scientists who study them and all of us who depend upon them.

Earthwise Aware, Amy Mertl (entomologist / Lesley University), and Green & Open Somerville are joining forces to study and protect our pollinators (& insects) in Somerville. We need you to help us!

We’re conducting different kinds of surveys to gather data about insects, and specifically in Urban settings. Photographic surveys throughout the city along transects, hosting a ‘pollinator’ pot at home or joining a study group at The Somerville Community Growing Center for observing, recording and counting arthropod species. Really there’s something for everyone! ツ 

Check the project’s highlights, and you can fill out our Volunteer Interest Form 📝 to let us know how you might be interested in participating. No prior knowledge is necessary: we’ll share knowledge and expertise – all that you need to know and more!

If you want to help our other EwA projects at any of our study locations, you can apply here

For Those Interested in Surveying with EwA at the Growing Center

In Brief…Survey ActivitiesNext StepsWho Can Help?

In Brief

How EwA Citizen Science is helping our insects ▶️


You have an interest in surveying the pollinators (& insects) at the Growing Center with us.

For a start, here’s a little about us. Earthwise Aware focuses on protecting biodiversity, bringing communities together through ecological ethics and citizen science. As for our citizen science program, we have several projects in the region that fill knowledge gaps and help biodiversity science locally and globally. 

About insects specifically: this year, we’ve started surveying at Fresh Pond (Cambridge), Mass Audubon Habitat (Belmont) and at the Middlesex Fells Reservation (Medford, Winchester, etc.). It will be good to include surveying a very Urban area such as Somerville, and the Growing Center specifically.

Part of our goals besides helping scientists is also to promote science methodology, insects and native plants & insects knowledge in our communities including helping our representatives to understand biodiversity science. We also want to provide a means for people to learn about protocols & data, and develop tools for evidence-based advocacy.

One more thing: No prior knowledge is necessary to help us: we’ll share knowledge and expertise – all that you need to know and more!

Survey Activities

We’ll run a few activities throughout the year (and next). 

1) Plant Community Assessment. First, we need to record the plants of the center (plant baseline).

2) Arthropod Occurrence Survey. Photo document the insect population regularly. At first, it’ll be to establish a baseline and understand which order/family/genus and species visit the Growing center.

3) Arthropod Abundance Survey. We’ll also survey at regular intervals specific trees (and inspect tagged branches in those trees) and count and record any insect that land or feed on it.

▹ A quick note about protocol: There is a protocol in place to record our observations. We’ll train you about how to upload reliable records and have fun while doing it! But, in short, the data is recorded in 2 very cool open science platforms -one linked to a project with the University of North Carolina, both platforms have international outreach. 

4) During the winter, we’ll invite you to refine records identification together. For those interested to participate, we’ll also develop an annual report exhibiting and comparing data from all our sites. This report is to report our studies findings to ourselves, to our communities, to the partner organizations, and to governmental institutions. 

Next Step

In 2019, we added the Growing Center to our study sites. We’ve done a lot already! We have a dedicated EwA page now (this page), we added this location into our 📕 Plant Visitor Survey protocol, we maintain an iNaturalist project (EwA at the Growing Center), and the Survey site log 📊 is up-and-running and public! 

Claire leads regular surveys at the center, and if you’re new to it, you’ll have a great opportunity to learn and practice until you want to do it on your own – unsupervised – or not: it’s fine to keep wanting to do it in a group setting ツ The goal, besides community and science building, is also to have you monitoring when we can’t, and supply additional data. The more regular and continuous our surveys are, the better it is for our pollinators, our scientists and ourselves as human Earth-citizen!

Each visit starts with the field task du jour, and with a short intro with important info for newcomers to give a chance to anybody to start at any point during the year. If you’re new and you missed the project intro part, and day field duty explanations, then no worry, there’s always the next event!

Our question to you: When is your general day/time availability? (Give us options if possible). And if you are interested to join or dab to see if it’s for you we invite you to subscribe to our forum, so that you get updated about results, coming short-notice visits, etc.

Who Can Help/Attend?

Anybody really. We train our citizen scientists anyway!

📅 Check our EwA Calendar [ view calendar | subscribe to calendar ] to see when we plan our visits. As our weekly surveys depend on the weather (temperature and wind speed), our visit is usually announced a few days before a survey.

💬 Join our EwA forum to get notified about our field findings, as well as to learn about cool science and important news. This is also a good way to ask questions and share what is important to you.

Some of you have asked how many kids we accommodate. We’ve never run a survey with many children, so we don’t have the answer to that question.

We usually have young adults, adults, and seniors. We have had a few young stellar citizen scientists attending on a few occasions. Those were certainly more mature than many adults we know ツ So, children are welcome. Just note that we ask anyone to follow the same rules than any of our citizen scientists: be quiet (wildlife ethics), spot without disturbing (field ethics), communicate quietly, and participate as much as possible.

There’s a lot of observing, moving slowly, flipping leaves cautiously, recording on camera and using data recording apps. Note that we don’t “capture” unless strictly necessary, yet we move out of harm’s way when needed. So, besides learning about biodiversity science, data, and protocol, our surveys are the perfect activity to learn about ethics and self-control 🙂

We hope you have all your questions answered. If not, please do not hesitate to ask. We look forward to hearing from you.

We also run insect surveys at Fresh Pond (Cambridge), Habitat (Belmont) and the Middlesex Fells Reservation as part of our Biodiversity programs. Check our EwA Citizen Science Program »

 🔎 Example of Species Observed at the Growing Center

Sharing is Caring Spread the word!

✒️ What you think is important to us. Feel free to engage us and leave a courteous message below. Thanks!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email