Thursday, July 5, 2018

2018 Beetle BioBlitz

 June 12-14, 2018 were the dates for the Tenth annual BioBlitz at Great Basin National Park. A BioBlitz is a short-term event that focuses on biodiversity. This year the topic was beetles. Nevada State Entomologist Jeff Knight came out to the park to lead the event.

He started with a presentation explaining what beetles are and how to collect them. Then the group went out in the field and used forceps (tweezers), sweep nets, and other tools to collect beetles. They brought what they found back to Baker Hall, which had turned into BioBlitz Headquarters for the three-day event. Jeff put the beetles under his microscope, which was attached by a camera to his computer so more could get a view.

Meanwhile, handfuls of leaf litter were put into buckets with lightbulbs, with the heat, making the beetles retreat down into a bag that was later examined.

Everyone was so excited by what they found. The event was open to all ages, and there were definitely some budding young entomologists.

Some folks tried to puzzle out their finds on their own.

They used guidebooks and asked entomologists for some guidance when they got really stumped.

For two nights there was light trapping, where a white sheet was put down and a light put on top of it. Beetles (and other insects) came to the light, and we saw species that had been hidden during the day.
We also took a black light out to check out some nearby areas and found lots of scorpions!

 On the third day, Forest Health Specialist Danielle Malesky gave a talk about mountain pine beetles at the Wheeler Peak amphitheater.

Talk about a wonderful outdoor classroom!

After explaining how this native beetle has killed lots of trees, she showed how high value trees (such as those in campgrounds) can be protected by using a synthetic pheromone called verbenone. This pheromone mimics the smell that the beetles put out when telling other beetles that the tree is already full and they should look for a different tree.

Her colleague applied SPLAT, verbenone in a caulking tube.

The zig-zag pattern is applied to four sides of the tree and lasts for about a year.

Meanwhile back in Baker Hall, entomologists from as far as Los Angeles County Natural History Museum were working on their samples.

At noon we celebrated with a delicious hot catered lunch by Salt & Sucre sponsored by the Great Basin National Park Foundation and Western National Parks Association.

It was a great way for everyone to come back together again and share where they had been hiking and what they had found.

Following the lunch, Jeff Knight gave a talk about the preliminary results of the BioBlitz, which was more than 500 specimens representing at least 65 species added to the park list. Most of the work lies ahead, back in his lab.

The final part was a raffle of items donated by Western National Parks Association. Then it was time to clean up and say farewells. Participants will be updated as results come in.
If you're interested in participating next year, the topic will be bats and it will be held in August 2019.  To be added to the mailing list, send an email to BioBlitzes are a great way to learn more about an area and meet people who have similar interests. They are held all over the country (and world), and I highly recommend participating in one if you'd like to explore a place more thoroughly!

Many thanks to everyone who participated and helped sponsor the 2018 Beetle BioBlitz!

1 comment:

David Evans said...

No bugs on the lunch menu...I am surprised, not that I'd eat a bug sandwich, if I knew beforehand...:<+)......
Hey Gretchen..I hope you know I'm smiling as I am about your only commenter...
I do enjoy all the information and effort you put into your site...
It may help that am one who has visited your area and entered the cave...
I may make it back down to your neck of the woods all the way from Seattle...Who knows?
Stay safe!

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