Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Zack's Bugstock # 9 report

My wife joined me for a rather hot 3 days just north of Opelousas for what was my first Bugstock since #s 1 & 2 back in the summer of 2007. I had been to the Barney Farm since then (I think), but not for one of the “big gatherings.” What fun! The number of people who flitted in and out – only able to stay for windows of time ranging from a few hours to a day or so – was dizzying. I believe most were more inclined towards the musical end of Bugstock than the entomological one, but that hardly mattered; everyone was cool and happy to be there.

Aside from having an air-conditioned house in which to sleep, the highlights for me were mainly from field excursions. We arrived late (dinner-ish) on Friday, so my forays consisted of: 1) Two nights of checking on light traps/sheets, of which we rigged 3 on Friday and 4 on Saturday, 2) A drive to the “famous” gas stations at LeCompte, and 3) Three separate trail walks (2 on Sat. and 1 on Sun.). I can’t possibly list everything we saw, so I will include here my personal highlights.

Some of what I observed was just that – observation only. In other cases, I collected insects that I hope to have in a pinned collection one day; I took some insects for other folks (researchers, colleagues); and the living arthropods I brought home were either destined for Audubon Insectarium or my house. I was pleased to keep: 15 ox beetles, 1 triceratops beetle, about 8 medium-sized, brown click beetles, 7 fiery searchers, a few predacious diving beetles and a pair of water scavenger beetles, 6 red-lined carrion beetles, 9 giant water bugs, 4 mole crickets, 15 or so field crickets, 3 black widows, and a nice group of velvet ants. From the lights (dead stock) I brought home cicadas, owlflies, and stink bugs in good numbers.

Good to see purse web spiders still on site! Robber fly and odonate diversity (in addition to spiders) is notably good, and exciting, as always. Luna and promethea moths came to the lights in good numbers, too. So did spotted grapevine beetles. Not sure what the butterfly species count was, but it seemed to be hovering in the 25-30 range from what I recall. We found a clerid beetle that is a fantastic velvet ant mimic. Our velvet ant species count was 4...all collected in a hour’s time! And also on Sunday morning (that’s when we got the mutillids), we saw 2 different species of pompilid wasps walking along with paralyzed prey. The former was hauling a six-spotted fishing spider that was very big by comparison to the wasp herself, and the latter (which itself resembles a paper wasp quite a lot) had an orb weaver. Neat stuff!

I am surely forgetting other things we spotted, but fatigue is wearing in. So, here endeth the report!

- Zack