Tracy Zarrillo – Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

I have worked at The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station since 1992, and over the course of my career have provided assistance on a variety of projects, including insect pest management on organic farms and apple orchards in Connecticut.  Recent projects focus on pumpkin/squash pollination and wild bee diversity on farms, and also surveying the state for exotic and invasive insect pests.

My interest in pollination and documenting wild bee diversity began about five years ago while working on a project that looked at beneficial insects visiting ornamental flowers.  I was amazed to see so many different types of bees!  At that point, I began to work with various bee experts around the country to learn bee taxonomy.  I have taken a Northeastern Bee Identification Workshop given by Dr. John Ascher; a Dialictus (sub-genera in the genus Lasioglossum aka sweat-bee) workshop given by Dr. Jason Gibbs; Native Bee Identification, Ecology, Research and Monitoring Course given by Sam Droege and Dr. Jason Gibbs; and the Pollinator Short Course given by Xerces Society.  I have also spent many hours being personally mentored by Sam Droege of the USGS down at his lab in Maryland.  This has enabled me to be able to do species-level identifications for our northeastern fauna, which is critical to ecological studies. 

The bee species that visit pumpkin and squash in Connecticut are very limited in scope, and so my taxonomic role in this project is very easy.  However, I also assist with pollen and nectar collection from pumpkin and squash flowers on farms, as well as stigma (female flower parts) processing back at our lab.  The stigmas are processed with a base to remove the pollen that bees have deposited in a given morning.  This will help us know how many pollen grains the bees are transferring from the male flowers to the female flowers. 

Presently, I am attending Southern Connecticut State University pursuing a Master’s Degree in Biology.  My thesis project is a two year faunal survey of the bee communities found at a coastal preserve in Guilford, Connecticut. 

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