Hello everyone, this past week at BIO, among many other things going on, we finished our standardized sampling at rare Charitable Research Reserve. This was our second sampling event since we had previously sampled the same sites at rare in the late spring. You are able to compare the species present at different times of the year by sampling the same sites twice. Like many animals, the presence of insects is influenced by the time of year, weather, and habitat. We sampled the same or constant habitat; therefore the differences in the diversity of insects would be due to seasonal changes. This was clearly present as we were servicing the sites and looking through some of the traps. One beetle that was not seen in the first sampling event, but was seen everywhere during the second sampling event was the Goldenrod Leaf Beetle (Trirhabda canadensis). They were extremely abundant on Goldenrod and were also on Milkweed. While aspirating our sweep nets, Dan and I were over-burdened with these friendly beetles. We each had hundreds in our nets and we had them crawling from the grass all over our bodies while we were sitting down. Like the common name of this beetle suggests, they feed on Goldenrods.
While checking one of our sites at rare I also found a gypsy moth (Lymantria spp.) caterpillar on a tree. The gypsy moth was introduced to America around 1860s and has expanded its new distribution throughout parts of North America. The gypsy moth is considered a pest species as it defoliates its host trees, which are mostly hardwood trees. Populations sometimes reach outbreak levels where their abundance increases drastically due to local conditions. This causes severe damage to host trees as the caterpillar usually only eats holes or parts of the leaves but during an outbreak population cycle entire trees are defoliated and leaves stripped to their skeletons. To protect your trees and to help prevent outbreak population levels ensure that your trees are healthy. Water during dry spells, check bands of burlap or plastic at the base of the tree as the caterpillars like to retreat there, remove egg masses, scrape any caterpillars into a container with soapy water, and you can also call the toll free invading species hotline, where you can report any sightings.
We were also lucky to have some new friends that are visiting from France join us at rare to service and sweep net our sites. There was five of us working in the field that day so we took turns aspirating and worked together to quickly empty our sweep nets. There was an insane abundance of beetles and hoppers again, especially the Goldenrod Leaf Beetle as mentioned before.
Thanks for reading,