Why I started observing pollinators

Elliott invited me to contribute to his post by sharing my story, so here we go…

Elliott, what a great journey, and thank you for inviting me to contribute to this post! Although it surprised me at first, it really makes sense that we share two pivotal influences in our path to recognizing and falling in love with the ecosystems that surround us: COVID and iNaturalist.

Although I’ve always had a love of gardening, starting with an indoor cactus garden in Cleveland, OH back in the 60s, my interest was broadened and intensified after moving back to Phoenix in 2019 after a 15 year hiatus. I signed up for a couple of courses at the Desert Botanical Garden Landscape School, although the second course was halted when COVID infections began escalating across the country.

And then a rather interesting post appeared in my fb feed: MetroPhoenix EcoFlora, an iNaturalist project coordinated by Jeny Davis at the Desert Botanical Gardens. Big changes start with a small step, and big events encourage change.

My first observation was a Hop Bush, which I then learned was a larval host plant for the Cincta Silkmoth, and things began to click.

Fast forward to 2021 – I had made thousands of plant observations, and developed a strong interest in the insects that visited the plants. And 2021 turned out to be a banner year for butterflies in Phoenix; what amazing fortune 🙂

I also found an opportunity to apply my background in training by developing A Visual Guide to Low Desert Butterflies and Moths.

Which then evolved into PollinatorWeb.com

So with a step, a journey began. A door opened and I stepped through, and got to know the plants and insects around me, and met some amazing people, some virtually and some in person!


  1. Wendy Gordon says:

    Thanks, George. Your piece is a reminder that there is so much to see and learn once we slow down and open our eyes.

    1. Elliott@PW says:

      I agree. A good excuse to hike slowly!

    2. George@PW says:

      Agreed! One of the great benefits of joining iNaturalist (second only to meeting great people), is the change of focus it brings to tours of the backyard or hiking events!

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