Hey everyone! Greetings from the warm and happy region of Elk Island National Park in Alberta!
Today we were able to check out our catches from the (aquatic) bottle and bucket (UV light) traps we set out last night. We were especially lucky to find a beautiful Cecropia Moth in the bucket traps, as well as heaps of enormous and hungry leeches within the bottle traps. From the kindness of someones heart we returned the leeches to the watery abyss of their lair- and for some odd reason I volunteered to return the creatures to the land (-or in this case water) of their domain. While carrying these lovely specimens to the home the largest and most glutinous one (I could almost swear I still hear his evil laugh) decided to try and make a dive off of the lid and onto my wrist. So in the end I withheld my blood curdling scream and dropped all of his friends on the ground- a far shot from their intended destination. I then had the joy of a search and rescue mission for my not-so-favorite animals from the dry land with dense grasses.
Once I overcame my ordeal and was sure that all animals were accounted for, we continued the day with some hand collecting. Here on the bus hand collecting typically consists of traditional sweep netting where we swing a net and collect mostly flying insects, we use a beat sheet to knock non-flying insects out of trees and onto a kite-like sheet, and tray sifting to collect arthropods from the forest floor. Large insects are placed in killing jars so that they can be pinned for later use, where as smaller ones are typically collected using an aspirator and kept in ethanol.
We finished off our day sorting through our spoils well into the night. It has been one of the longest days that we have worked so far in the field, but judging by our catches the long hours have paid off!