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!    

Getting Our Feet Wet

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

Day 2
June 26, 2016
Ed on the finer points of beating-sheet collecting.Creative Commons License
Sunday morning and still no electricity in the hotel due to the storm from the previous night.  Loaded the cars and headed out to on our first field site at the Namekagon River in Bayfield County SACN.  We split into two groups to explore under a bridge nearby to collect samples.  I scavenged the cement wall directly under the bridge near the stream and found many dead samples of stoneflies within spider webs. 
After this bridge excursion we headed to the park area where there was an entrance into the river.  Dr. DeWalt brought out dip nets and beating sheets and taught us how to use these tools properly to collect the insects.  Dip nets are used to collect aquatic insects on the bottom of the river floor while being submerged in the water.  After using the the dip net, the contents are poured into a tray to sift through and pick out the aquatic insects of varying species.  Beating sheets are a diamond shaped sheet used to collect insects off plants by beating the plants with a short stick until the insects fall onto the sheet, after the insects are stunned we use forceps to pick up the insect and preserve it in a bottle of ethanol.  Completed the collection for the day and filled up two bottles of ethanol with a multitude of different species. 
Evan, Jeff, and Alex emerging from the water.Creative Commons License
I really enjoyed learning how to use these collecting tools, there is a such an art and finesse to collecting that takes many years to master.  It turned out to be a very long day after the morning and night collecting, can’t wait for more adventures, but now to get a little shut eye. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

NSF Summer Internship

Jeff is a undergraduate studying Biology at MiraCosta College in the city of Oceanside located in southern California.  He is currently completing a 2-month long summer research experience through the Summer Research Opportunities Program at the University of Illinois.  He is working with the DeWalt lab at the Illinois Natural History Survey as part of their NSF CSBR 1458285 - "Natural History: Securing Alcohol Types and Donated Alcohol Specimens at the INHS Insect Collection".

Day 1
June 25,2016
On Saturday June 25th at 7:30am, a team of researchers and undergrads conducting research on various disciplines of entomology loaded equipment and gear into field vehicles and headed out on our 8-hour road trip to Hayward Wisconsin.  The team includes Edward DeWalt, Matt Yoder, Dimitri Dmitriev, Alex Nelson, and myself Jeff Jaureguy.  Among (many) other things our equipment and gear consisted of dip nets, beating sheets, trays, forceps, 95% ethanol, and a tremendous amount of bug spray.  The reason I am going on this trip is to conduct research and determine if stream size influences species abundance and species richness of caddisflies. 

Ed car-top blacklighting. Creative Commons License
   We drove through the beautiful “flat” state of Illinois and arrived at our destination Hayward Wisconsin by about 6pm.  That same night a large storm hit the town of Hayward and the surrounding areas and caused trouble for our plans to collect insects that night.  The storm was such a hamper that it caused the hotel electricity to black out until the next day.  We decided to head out anyways that night when the storm became less intensive and Dr. DeWalt ended up giving us an introductory lesson on black lighting and how to collect specimens of various insects for preservation in alcohol.  Black lighting is when you set up an ultraviolet light at night time with a tray of ethanol set underneath to catch the insects that are attracted to the light.   The insects swarmed around the light, falling into the tray to become our victims of science.  It was difficult getting used to all the creepy crawlies flying into my face, buzzing in my ears, and devouring my flesh, but after a while you become desensitized to the experience.  We collected an abundance of caddisflies (Trichoptera) and mayflies (Ephemeroptera), along with other various insects.  This was a amazing introductory lesson to the exciting adventure ahead of us.  Stay tuned for more amazing stories and PS we really hope this happens to us some time this week!!!