Grab your basket and blanket, July is Picnic Month!

Picnic Blanket and Basket by Amy Liscomb (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Amy Liscomb (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This month it’s exceptionally easy to celebrate by simply grabbing your meal and bringing it outside! Lots of creatures will likely join you during your meal en plein air, so this is a good opportunity to say hello and take note as some sing you songs, some attempt to take a nibble of your food… and others yet who may attempt to take a nibble of you! While you’re enjoying the fresh air, here are six citizen science projects that you can do from the comfort of your own picnic blanket.

Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

If you find yourself enjoying the songs of cicadas on your picnic, consider collecting a few for the Urban Buzz project. Because cicadas live most of their lives in microbially-rich soil, researchers are interested in understanding how cicadas defend themselves against harmful microbes. Check out this video to learn more!

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Of course you can always make a picnic for the ants, too! Help scientists learn about the diet preferences of ants around the world; their choices will inform scientists on what food resources are available to ants throughout the year.

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Did you happen upon a picnic spot with lots of butterflies? Report butterfly sightings in the United States and Canada to help document butterfly abundance, activity and distribution.

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Are there birds near your picnic spot? Help ornithologists learn about 16 key species of urban birds by tracking birds for just 10 minutes in a small area near you.

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Squirrels are some of the most common forms of backyard wildlife. Wherever you are, you can join the study of wildlife by counting squirrels in your neighborhood and reporting your findings online.

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If you have some unwelcome and thirsty guests at your picnic, feel free to report them to BiteBytes, an app created to monitor mosquito activity to researchers in the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

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Discover more citizen science on the SciStarter calendar. Did you know your SciStarter dashboard helps you track your contributions to projects? Complete your profile to access free tools. Want even more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With 1100+ citizen science projects spanning every field of research, task and age group, there’s something for everyone!

Categories: Animals, Birds, Citizen Science, Ecology & Environment, Featured Projects, Insects, Newsletter

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About the Author

Lea Shell

Lea Shell is the Digital Learning Specialist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. With a background in entomology and education, she has spent the past five years working in the world of citizen science, public engagement and science communication at North Carolina State University to help bring citizen science to the classroom.