Monday, July 4, 2016

Back to the Lab

This is the fifth in a series of posts by our intern Jeff  Jaureguy.     

This field research opportunity has been a very rewarding experience.  I have learned so much about entomology and proper sampling techniques during this trip.  After six whole days of collecting insects along the St Croix River I have learned how to better identify different insect phylogenies of caddisflies, mayflies, and stoneflies.  I have also learned proper collecting methodologies such as utilizing a beating sheet, dip nets, and also setting up ultra violet light traps for night collections.  Another skill that I gained from this trip from my mentors was how to write a proper field notebook.  I am very grateful for this experience in Dr. DeWalts lab at the Illinois Natural Survey and look forward to future field research experiences.  I can't wait to get back to the lab to process all of these samples and to analyze this data.  The next step in my summer internship is to finish my research proposal with this data collected and to create a poster to present this research at the illinois summer research symposium.  Thanks for listening!  
Jeff, Evan, and Alex Creative Commons License

The St Croix River

Doughnut case Creative Commons License
This is the fourth in a series of posts by our intern Jeff  Jaureguy.     

Day 4
June 29, 2016        

Started off another beautiful day in the amazing state of Wisconsin to a gourmet breakfast at a local cafĂ© recommended by Dr. DeWalt.  This place had an amazing assortment of delicious doughnuts and pastries, I ended up picking the freshly made apple fritters.

Caddisfly Creative Commons License
         Headed out  on the St Croix River for another long field day at a site along a river which used to be an old logging camp that used the river in the 1800s for sending their logs downstream.  The place had a old cobblestone wall along the dense green forest which then led to a old water wheel further down the beaten path.  I jumped into the stream, and started sifting through the sticks and mud looking for caddisflies, mayflies, and stoneflies to add to the sample.  Found a lot of caddisflies at this site due to being at headwaters section of the river.  
Location for ultra violet light trap. Creative Commons License
        Tonight we headed out to set our last three UV light traps at three different locations.  The protocol of night collecting is going to the first site and setting a light trap, which consists of finding a hidden location and placing a white tray with the UV light on top.  After the first light trap is set we continue on to the next site with a specific latitude longitude and place the light trap.  This process is repeated until all three light traps are placed.  Once all the lights traps are set we have to wait two hours for the insects to land in the trays of alcohol. 
Starry Night Creative Commons License
        At the last site we had to hike in pitch dark with only our head lamps and the moonlight to help guide the way.  It was a long hike from the farm down through the forest out into the stream.  It was the first time in ages I was able to see whole starry sky.  I lost myself staring into the beautiful cosmos and embraced the void of our existence, I thought to myself what a beautiful universe that we are a part of.  Dimitri and Matt started discussing the different constellations and where certain stars were located, giving me a beginners lesson on astronomy.  I went home that night feeling connected to myself and the rest of life with a smile deep within my being.  

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Insect Frenzy

This is the third in a series of posts by our intern Jeff  Jaureguy.

Day 3
June 27, 2016

Map of site #1Creative Commons License
         I was spoiled this morning with an amazing Norwegian breakfast called  a smothered omelet lefse wrap at the Norske Nook.  Who would have known this beautiful gem would be in such a small town.  We packed the car and headed out of the town of Hayward towards our next field site in Washburn county on the Namekagon River at Lat: 46.02739, Long: -92.01258.  This was a very large river about 80 m wide and had a blackish brownish color.  I ended up using a dip net the whole time scouring the river for aquatic insects.  I found a lot of caddisfly pupae and casings on the bottom of the river along with some local fish, my first catch!  
Map of site #2 Creative Commons License
The next site we collected at was in Burnett county at the St. Croix River at Lat: 46.07568, Long: -92.7077.  This location was a very large sinuous river with a dark brown color to the water.  I collected samples using a beating sheet and stick in the river.  I found an assortment of caddisflies, stoneflies, and mayflies.  Dimitri, one of the head researchers at Illinois Natural History Survey found a megaloptera along the side of the road on the way back to the van.  It was a very intricate looking insect with a very beautiful patterned set of wings.  
Megaloptera Creative Commons License
After the day sites we went home rested, had dinner and then headed back out for our three scheduled night collections utilizing UV lights.  Wow, what a long exciting 12 hour day, got to get some rest and gather energy for the next day.  Stay tuned for more excitement!