Welcome to the Windshield

Once again the famed BIOBus is on the move. This summer destinations include Florida, Arizona, Texas, California and Colorado in search of diverse insects to add to ever expanding database of DNA barcodes.

The BIOBus crew for the first half of the summer consists of Jay Cossey (our intrepid admiral), Jeff Webb (our jolly mayfly specialist), Chris Ho (a fellow insect researcher/enthusiast), and my humble self.

On Day 1 we left Guelph bright and early, and made our way southward to Florida through New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia.

BIOBus taking a break at a rest stop in North Carolina

There are various difficulties associated with travel on the road, and we were by no means immune. Our first obstacle was the emotional distress we experienced having passed by the last Tim Horton’s we would visit for two months. After this I managed to drop my new tube of toothpaste into a stream, our second morning on the road before we departed Weston, West Virginia.

Although it would take two and a half days to reach our southern destination, we wasted no time breaking out our nets and discovering the change in insect fauna at each rest stop and gas station. However the vast majority of our collecting was done by virtue of the BIOBus’s less than aerodynamic physique barreling toward Florida at highway speeds, amassing thickly caked-on layers of lovebugs (Plecia nearctica).

Lovebugs doing what they’re best at

At this time of year the lovebugs, due to their copious numbers and mass mating efforts (which often necessitate a thorough car wash), have garnered a less than eponymous reputation with the locals. I was also surprised to find the usefulness of open chip bags in the collection of small click beetles (family Elateridae). One particular beetle was lucky to escape my hunger, but subsequent to discovering it I transferred it to a vial and turned it into data.

At the end of a long interstate sojourn, and still well on its way to Kissimmee Prairie State Preserve, the BIOBus finally arrived in the Sunshine state, a solitary Ontario license plate bobbing confidently in a river of Florida oranges.