3 Ecology students went into the field…

…and everything was jolly on a beautiful Saturday morning. We first went into the Riparian block to remove predators from the pitfall traps and destroy any webs that may have been created on the tomato cages.

Seems simple right? Little did Darian, Deniss, or I know what we would encounter in our first pitfall traps.

Then everything changed when the spider community attacked. We were greeted with huge monstrous predators. This led to some screaming and running away from the cages.

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This little guy took about 10 minutes to shove into the ethanol vial because he showed his fangs multiple times.

We then threw the non-predators into the “arena”, which is the area that surrounded that particular tomato cage.

There were a ton of cute buggos that we found in the traps, some were saved from the pits of despair. Here are a few:

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Fuzzy wittle moth that we were able to save in the Riparian block.

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“Potato Bug” or “Jerusalem Cricket” found in the Basin block.

We then moved the Solar Panel from the Basin block to the Grassland block.

Protocol for Removing Predators:

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  1. Make sure you have the setup shown above before going out into the field (It will be placed in Storer Hall)
    • Personal Pooter
    • 3 vials filled with ethanol, labeled with the separate blocks and date
    • Forceps
    • Tray, for sorting through pitfall stragglers
  2. Once at the site, pull up pitfall cover by holding the wooden skewers below the plastic cover. This will possibly prevent from ripping the plastic cover. You only do these for L_P labeled cages.
  3. Dump contents into the tray and sort as non-predator or predator.
  4. Place predators into the vial.
  5. Dump non-predators back into the “arena”.
  6. Place grass back into the pitfall cup.
  7. Place back pitfall cup and cover.
  8. Look to see any visible spiders on the cage, if so, remove them and put it into vial.
  9. Destroy any webs that were created.
  10. Return the setup to the lab so the next group can pick it up later.

Tips: It would help to have someone in the field with you that is experienced with insects and identifying if they are predators or not.

This process took us a total of 2 hours with 3 people. We did this at a leisurely pace and we spent a good chunk of time playing with insects and saying our prayers about monster spiders.

Note: We did see herbivory on many of the plants. Pea plants seem to be doing the best at the moment. Brassica look really sad, some are completely chopped off and most don’t have flowers anymore. Tomatoes are doing fine, but some are wilting.

Mylar tape seems to be working for the time being, not a ton of bird poop seen.

 

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PC: Deniss Martinez. Thank you for the picture!

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