University of Illinois Extension is calling all lovers of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators that keep crops and gardens growing to join scientists in tracking their distribution and habitat use across the state, from the comfort of their homes, schools, or community gardens.

I-Pollinate is a citizen-science research initiative through the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, designed to collect statewide pollinator data. Volunteers can join up to three research projects and collect data on monarch butterfly egg and caterpillar abundance, pollinator visitation to ornamental flowers, and state bee distributions.

"Older landowners across Illinois have told me anecdotes of how many more bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects they used to see,” said David Zaya, plant ecologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, leading the monarch butterfly portion of the project. “Scientific data has started to show evidence of these declines, too. Our hope is that I-Pollinate will help us understand and use gardens to contribute to pollinator conservation and resurgence."

To learn more about becoming a citizen scientist with I-Pollinate and sign up to join, visit the project website at publish.illinois.edu/pollinatorproject.

Extension will offer a live webinar training with the scientists at 3 p.m. April 3 for volunteers to learn about the projects and ask questions.

To register for the training, visit go.illinois.edu/IPollinateTraining. A recording of the training will be shared on the project website.