Lighting Up the Night Sky
On the evening of June 3rd the BIObus team scheduled to do a night sheet along nearby Kouchibouguac River. A night sheet is a white linen sheet we hang and light up with an ultra violet light. The UV light is used to mimic UV rays given off by the sun and moon. The light draws in insects that are positively phototaxic towards moonlight. Unfortunately, insects like fireflies that stay away from light sources can’t be collected with a night sheet. We set up our night sheet at Tweedie Trail, which runs parallel to the river. Kouchibouguac National Park turned out to be a perfect place for a night sheet because of the absence of light pollution. This National Park is a designated Dark Sky Preserve, which means the night sky is exceptionally clear and we saw the stars shining with all their majesty. A Dark Sky Preserve is an area where no artificial light is visible at night, as guided by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Because of the Dark Sky Preserve status of Kouchibouguac, the night sheet was very successful.
We caught a lot of different insects last night, such as crane flies, mosquitos and moths. We spent four hours checking on the night sheet. When sampling from a night sheet it is advised to check and collect from the sheet every hour or so, this way you can catch the emergence of different insects as the night progresses. I’ve seen June Beetles before but I’ve never seen as many June Beetles as I had seen last night – we collected upwards of 30 June Beetles. After collecting about five for DNA barcoding purposes we stopped collecting them for sampling, but that didn’t stop Graham, Katelyn, and I from collecting more in a large jar just to see how many we could get. Once we were finished collecting our samples for the night, which was at about 1:00 am, we released the mass of beetles from the jar. We left Tweedie and headed back to our camp to end yet another productive day on the BIObus.