Dave Goulson from the University of Sussex shares this brilliant resource with BHOGG members.
This may initially sound a little dull, but trust me, it is more interesting than it seems! DoPI is a new, searchable, open-access database that contains a huge amount of information about UK pollinators and the flowers they visit. It is the brainchild of Drs Nick Balfour, until recently of University of Sussex, working with myself and other Sussex scientists (with financial support from the British Beekeepers Association and the Eva Crane Trust). The database contains a vast number of records of insects visiting flowers, extracted mainly from published scientific papers from 1867 to the present. So far 327,000 records have been entered into the database.
The database is very easy to search by plant or insect. Suppose you want to know which flowers to grow to attract tiger-stripe hoverflies– type in the Latin name (Helophilus pendulus), and you find 162 records of them visiting flowers. The most records are for heather, bramble, water-mint, ox-eye daisy, creeping thistle, ragwort, marsh thistle and hog weed. Common names work too for insects that have widely-used names. Click on the name of any species and you’ll jump to the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) page for the species, which shows you pictures of it, a description, and a distribution map.
You can also search by plant species, and see what insects visit them. You’ll quickly see that some plants have huge numbers of records, such as black knapweed (22,950), bird’s foot trefoil (16,527), red clover (13,186), borage (9,389), marjoram (7,727), hogweed (7,700) and bramble (6,250), This doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best plants for pollinators – the large numbers also reflect that these are common plants. But it does show where most pollinating insects are finding their lunch. Garden plants are included in the database, but since the majority of ecological studies are done in the countryside, native plants tend to dominate the records.
Should you be interested, the most common insect/flower combination in the UK is red-tailed bumblebees visiting black knapweed, for which there are 10,290 records.
Go on, have a look, and click a few buttons. It is very easy to use, and might give you some inspiration for new plants to grow in your garden.