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

Friday, June 26, 2009

Saturday June 20th

Last Saturday night - James, Travis and I ventured up to central Louisiana to check out the scene. On the way up, James and I had fun thinking of people to call that might be able to look online and tell us what the moon phase was going to be. We got up there and introduced ourselves to yet another surprised Chevron employee. Travis arrived a little later in the "silver bullet". Michael didn't join us because he wasn't answering his phone for some reason.

We first went over to a friend's house kinda near the zoo to setup a light in his back yard (James had known him for years). After we setup we went back out to check the parking lots again. For the night we found: one Pelidnota, one female Dynastes and maybe about 15 Strategus. The light rig didn't really bring in much but the evening was fun anyway.

Bugstock #6 Report - May 22nd - 24th, 2009

Bugstock #6 report: May 22nd - 24th, 2009

Thursday (5/21) after work, Michael, Pete and I stayed out at the Farm until around 10:30. We were mowing, cleaning the porch and organizing the first floor of the cabin. We stacked the lumber into a stage for sleeping and playing music.

On Friday I arrived at the Farm around 2:00. The weather forecast for the whole weekend was bad, which discouraged a few folks, but we were determined to have a good time even if it rained. Michael and I brought equipment so that we could all watch ento. videos all weekend if we had to. I did more mowing and shoveled some of the new gravel into spots that needed it. It started raining so Michael, Travis and I sat on the porch with the Stricklands for a while until it stopped.

After the rain I needed to walk to the middle of the pasture so that I could get a cell signal. On my way out I met Linda and Shane coming in. Not long after that I met Allyn, Victoria and Christopher on their way in. A bit later David, and Jeanne then Pete and Tanya all arrived. The Rodriguez family decided to try out a night in the new cabin, so we set them up on the second floor. As it got dark we started a fire and David grilled up some hotdogs. A few of us took trips around the pond to see what we could find and Michael led a “no lights” hike down the Wagon Rut trail.

Early Saturday morning I was woken by the sound of a car horn and crazy, loud music. Travis had arrived with about 8 dozen donuts. Another surprise was that a tent had sprouted up over night. We discovered a bit later that the tent belonged to Billy and Clay. Linda and Shane spent the morning catching Zebra Swallowtails. Michael, Aidan and Alden then James and Eric drove up.

A large group of us hiked down Wagon Rut and over the new bridge and up to Michael’s hill. The group split up into three parts and somewhere in the split the little dog Daisy decided to do some exploring of her own. After everyone but Daisy made it back to the cabin, a search part was dispatched to look for her. She was found happily hiking on her own.

During the afternoon there was no rain to speak of but we had a flood of people: Christian, Faren, Anik, Dr. Ray, Uncle Bill, Andrew, Jeremy, Jared, Juan, Stephanie, Katherine, Mitch, Jen, Renee, Greg, Caroline, Heather, Susan, David, Ingrid, Nicki and Emma. Nicki set about cooking red beans and rice over the fire while Andrew and Heather gave a rare dual-flint-knapping demo –not often seen in the wild. Linda broke out some of her now famous brownies. After a while we were all treated to Nicki’s wonderful dinner then Linda and I setup our light rigs. Michael and James unveiled their secret weapons: a new type of blacklight bulb. The kids had fun playing on Emma’s “sand dune”.

The activity at the lights was pretty good, like: luna moths, giant water bugs, a bess beetle and a Phileurus valgus. After dinner we had a nice jam in the cabin and would periodically step out to check the lights.

Sunday was pretty relaxed, as usual. A few groups went on hikes and the rain that we had all been worried about visited only briefly that afternoon. Lind spotted a Black Swallowtail laying eggs on a native parsley plant. The groups slowly dispersed until it was down to Michael and I. The two of us took one last hike down the perimeter trail to look for phasmids and to look for a tree that Travis had mentioned seeing.

It was another fun weekend and the rain didn’t bother us very much at all. We also had a Bugstock First: our first engagement during Bugstock! Congratulations David and Jeanne!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bugstock #5 Report - Oct 24th - 26th, 2008

Hurricane Gustav - September 1, 2008

Bugstock #4 Report - Aug 8th - 10th, 2008

I took Friday off to prepare things for Bugstock 4. We started driving up at about 11am and all was fine until we were just south of Opelousas where we were confronted by a wall of water in the form of rain. We got to the farm in the down pour and almost didn't make it up the hill in the pasture where we started to slide backwards. We made it to the cabin and unloaded what we could and began straightening up the cabin and hoping the rain would stop. I had a new idea for the sleeping area that involved partitioning off areas of the room into separate sleeping quarters by hanging sheets on bamboo poles.

After a while the rain stopped. Nicki walked down to the front gate to try to shovel gravel into the drive so people wouldn't get stuck while Emma and I mowed. We got quite a bit done but the belt came off of the mower and we were forced to change chores (for some reason, just driving over the tall grass does not have the same effect as when the blades are spinning). Emma got a trip in the wheel-barrow down to the front gate to meet Nicki. I hung the Bugstock sign on the fence post. It was good to see Gayle and Jeanell drive up while we were down there. We stayed for a bit longer then abandoned out lithic-relocation program and headed back to the cabin. I put the walking planks out so everyone could stay out of the mud. Linda setup her rig and we had a small jam around 1:00 A.M.

Sat: Aug 9th: Got up early and checked the Lost Tooth trail then put sign up for Magnolia Mound trail. Mike helped me put the belt back on the mower so I could fix up the camping area and some of the trails. Mike and Logan’s was setup near there and featured electricity, an air conditioner and a microwave. Andrew knapped flint for a bit in the afternoon while a few groups went on hikes. In the evening Linda got her rig warmed up and James and I tried to break the record for largest light rig ever (see photos in gallery). We had a big jam around 7:30 with banjo, mandolin, fiddle, bagpipes, bodhran and guitar. Michael cooked some boudin over the fire. The Luna moths came out later in the evening and some were sill waiting for us the next morning.

Sun: Another lazy Bugstock Sunday morning. We started slowly cleaning up and went on hikes. Linda’s group came back with the first Phanaeus ever found on the Farm. Billy came back with a speckled King Snake. After sifting through the nights catch Linda broke down the light rig and Lep tent. Folks started grudgingly heading back to civilization. Another fun Bugstock weekend!

Monday, September 22, 2008