Monday, July 9, 2007

Bugstock summary

Bugstock summary

All those who attended Bugstock, 2007 owe a huge thanks to our host, Steven Barney, his entire family, and Travis Huval! After a lot of work on a house whose construction is still underway and an equal amount of work on trail-making, these folks got “The Farm” in Washington, LA ready for this first time event.

The idea - originally Steven’s - was to gather people from Louisiana with an interest in insects and other arthropods for a couple of days and nights during which time we could socialize and observe and collect critters. The 130 acres we had access to presented a terrific mix of hardwood forest, open fields, and aquatic habitats (and one cannot discount the house itself, for under what other structure would we have found ant lions?).

Some attendees (totaling around 20) arrived on Friday and had to leave on Saturday, some came Saturday and left on Sunday, and still others made a 3-day weekend out of it. Both the house on the Barney property and in-town lodging were used, but sleeping was a minor concern, really... we were after bugs!

Both day and night collecting were very productive, and regardless of any given person’s area of interest, I think it’s safe to say everyone was pretty pleased with what was found. In terms of overall diversity, here is a sampling of what we found: 36 spider species, 48 beetle species, 22 butterfly species, 11 odonate species, 24 fly and mosquito species, 24 hymenopterans, and 15 species of true bugs. This is certainly only a fraction of what is out there; neither was this an attempt to catalogue every arthropod nor did our group have the expertise to do so. Even with this in mind let me reiterate, as one who has poked around plenty for bugs in Louisiana, that this was a good couple of days!

Numerically, there were some insects that were collected in good numbers on account of varying desires: water scorpions, fiery searchers, carrion beetles, predaceous diving beetles, water scavenger beetles, spotted pelidnota beetles, giant water bugs, and whirligig beetles were among these. There was also a Saturday night trip about 40 miles north that landed us about 80-90 ox beetles (!) as well a trio each of unicorn beetles and stag beetles (a small number of at least 2 of these 3 species were collected at The Farm as well). That was a late night!

Speaking of nights, the three light rigs set up each night were quite productive. In fact, a lot of the aforementioned haul was from beetles, in particular, flying to said lights. We used a combination of UV and mercury vapor lights at each station. This is probably a good time to note that no one tracked all the microleps on our sheets, but we had plenty. There were also an unavoidable number small dung beetles, rice beetles, and (on Saturday) mayflies. We also saw a lot of nice moths, though nothing in extraordinary numbers. We had 5 saturniid species and a few pretty tiger moths and sphinx moths as well. During our relatively brief sleep on Friday and Saturday evenings, the frog and cricket choruses were exceptional in their volume.

Several insects were conspicuous during daylight and depending on where you were hanging out: paper wasps, tiger beetles, male velvet ants, and immature golden silk spiders were some of these. Finally, there were the neat surprises, and here I would have to include: purse web spiders (one established web that we assumed was of an adult female, one wandering adult male who was “introduced” to the web just cited), a live mourning cloak female and a dead one (not sexed), an as-yet unidentified cobweb weaver found under bark, a trio of thread-legged bugs, and several neat flies and wasps.

We were not without neat vertebrate sightings, too. A young cottonmouth made a Saturday appearance. The water snake activity along the edge of the pond was impressive, if for no other reason than they were so numerous in such a small body of water and their lack of shyness allowed for good viewing. Plenty of frogs around the pond, too.

To sum it up, this was a wonderful weekend of relaxed, productive “bugging.” We ate well, listened to a real quality bagpipe player in Michael Barney, and enjoyed great company. The subtropics in summer may be a tad hot, but there is a lot to be found!


Bugstock, 2007 was a success! Steven Barney and his “crew” did a lot of prep work in order to host about 20 Louisiana entomophiles at “The Farm” during the weekend of June 16th and 17th. The 125-acre tract in Washington, LA has good field, forest, and aquatic habitats, and we took advantage of this by collecting during the day (by hand and with nets) and night (with 3 lights used both Fri. and Sat.).

It would be hard to list all the neat stuff we saw - and there would be plenty of debate about what ought to be on the “neat” list - but the diversity of arthropods was quite good. We ate well and a lot of fun socializing, too. Let’s do it again!