Dr. Dwight Williams, entomologist formerly at the University of South Carolina and Cypress Gardens and Dr. Merle Shepard, Professor Emeritus of Entomology at Clemson University are conducting studies to document what pollinator species are present on Spring Island.
Many native flowering plants make use of fields and other transitional habitats. These flowers provide excellent habitat for a diversity of pollinating insects like bees, flies, moths, butterflies, wasps and beetles. Animals will be collected using a variety of survey methods and preserved or photographed as voucher specimens. We are sharing information collected during this study with other scientists in the region to give us all a better understanding of the pollinators of the lowcountry.
As part of the ongoing LCI-funded pollinator study on Spring Island, staff have been assisting a team of Ph.D. entomologists by setting out “bee bowls.” These are little, brightly colored bowls filled with soapy water that trap insect pollinators. The staff periodically collects the captured specimens and sends them to Dr. Sam Droege (US Geological Survey) who is conducting a study on the bee diversity of southern barrier islands. In a recent sample, staff collected a cuckoo bee (Triepeolus concavus) that is a new state record* for South Carolina. This little creature is a cleptoparasite of sunflower bees – this means that the cuckoo bee lays its eggs on pollen masses collected by the sunflower bee for its own young, thereby “stealing” the resources.