Time to Stick Together Once More!

This Friday marks the end of the sixth week of spring quarter! Although we had trouble creating ideas for our experiments in the past weeks, we are in full bloom now! We split into three teams in our last class and started the class with with a quick recap for each team:

Time-lapse Team:

The time-lapse team set up a trial on Wednesday(May 8th) that ran from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm with the lights on. Unfortunately, the cameras were taking pictures in 20 to 30 second intervals instead of the 2 minute intervals that we wanted. However, Vivienne was a gem and adjusted to cameras to take pictures into 2 minute intervals in the beginning of the trial. The trial breezed through successfully and Yu downloaded the photos taken from each camera. Then, he uploaded these photos into the shared Google Drive so we can begin data collection on Friday. Yu states that it takes roughly 15 minutes to copy the photos from the camera to his computer but 2-3 hours to upload to the Google Drive!

Fly Arena Team:

The Fly Arena team is still in progress in making potentially new arena apparatus models and trials for the fruit flies! More progress will be made towards the end of the class period.

Artificial Caterpillar Model Team

The Artificial Caterpillar Model crew had some team members do checks on our caterpillar models for the past few days and found that the milkweed leaves may be too delicate to hold the clay model weight. A possible solution to this is to place the models onto stakes next to the milkweed plants in the North Davis Channel. Another obstacle that they ran into during their experiment is that not a lot of insects seem to be sticking onto the models. This may be because the Tanglefoot sticky coat that we used is not sticky and strong enough to hold onto bigger insects.

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During the class period, we continued to work within our groups and accomplish our goals for the day!

Time-lapse Team:

In the time-lapse team, we created a data spreadsheet to officially place our data collection from the May 8th trail. Emily and Kelsey created a data spreadsheet in the past as a test to see what parameters need to be recorded and tested. With a huge help of Louie, we looked through their spreadsheet and created columns of the parameters that will be recorded. Some of these parameters include the start time, start date, stripe orientation, and stripe proportion. After creating the spreadsheet, we began to look through the photos from the May 8th trial and inputted our data. From the looks of it, it seems like the fruit flies tend to like being in the 50% grey region of our experiment. However, further trials are needed to test the fruit fly preference to grey and striping patterns.

Towards the end of class, we prepped for the next trial that will run on Saturday (May 11th) and we have decided to turn the lights off to test whether the light affects our test results. Riley will also be looking into some image recognition software to see if there is a more efficient way of collecting data. Without any software, we will be looking through each camera per trial to collect data on whether fruit flies prefer to be in grey or striped pattern regions. If any of you have any thoughts on any image recognition software or another efficient way to collect data, please let us know!

On another note, Louie encourages everyone to look into the timelapse dataset to look at the emerging patterns from our last trial. When you start collecting data, it’s best to see how it will develop and everyone should check to make sure there aren’t any errors. In addition, we want to make sure that our data spreadsheet is organized so it’s easier to analyze in the long run. Thus, we will be analyzing our data as it comes. So before the next class starts, make sure to check out the time lapse data spreadsheet and we will discuss more about it next time!

To find the time-lapse data spreadsheet:

EVE 180 Google Drive → Monarch Stripes Project → timelapse trials → Time Lapse Trial Data

Artificial Caterpillar Model Team

As mentioned in the beginning of class, the Tanglefoot sticky coat has not been sticky and strong enough to capture bigger insects on the caterpillar clay models. Louie proposed two options that the team can use as a stronger substitute for the Tanglefoot sticky coat. One of them includes the Tanglefoot paste. This paste is thicker than the sticky coat that we first used and doesn’t melt off as easily. This paste is usually used in tropical research and may come in handy in our caterpillar experiment. The team went out to collect different sizes of insects to test how well they stick to the paste onto the model. These insects range from a small fly to a small bee to a wasp. After some testing, they have concluded that the paste doesn’t stick to the insects as well no matter what size they are.

The other option is that we use commercial sticky cards as a substitute for the Tanglefoot sticky coat. This card contains a stronger sticky surface but the sticky material can’t be removed from the paper card and transferred onto the clay models. There is a possibility that we can make these sticky cards into a tubular shape to mimic the clay model. The next direction that we can do is test different methods with our caterpillar models to get a sense of what may be the best method to get more insects to stick onto our model. Elizabeth has ordered more sticky cards to test the sticky card method.

In addition, the team create more caterpillar molds with different striping patterns as shown in the image below. These models will test whether the size of the stripes will influence what insects will be attracted to them.

Fly Arena Team

Arianna and Vincent have worked side by side to come up with different prototypes for their landing experiment. They have come up with about nine models but the prototypes still need to be constructed. In addition, they will mostly likely need more fruit flies to continue with their experimentation.

Miscellaneous Thoughts:

Although our experiments are heading to a fantastic direction, we still need to figure out what to do with our Spodoptera exigua caterpillars. Unfortunately, most of them are beginning to die and pupate. One of our ideas include creating more spod trays in effort to attract Lespesia archivvipora tachnid flies however we will need to wait for the caterpillars to become parasitized. In our previous spod tray attempts, they didn’t yield any parasitoids. Instead of spending more time to make diet, Vincent suggests that we can use grass to feed them but Kasey points out that the Spodoptera exigua caterpillars may like to hide under the grass. On the flip side, the grass can also attract generalists that can parasitize the caterpillars.

A direction that we can also through is to paint the Spodoptera exigua caterpillars and implement it into our experiments. However, it takes a much longer time to paint live caterpillars than the clay models. Due to the possibility of painting them, we collected the healthy ones and we will need to freeze them first.

Another interesting thought has also come up during class. Is the stripe experiment general? If it works for fruit flies, will the effect also apply to all of species in the fly family?

General Agenda for Tuesday (May 14th):

  • Brief recap and announcements
  • Discuss and analyze how and if the time-lapse data spreadsheet can be improved
  • Time-lapse team:
    • Data collection from the May 11th trial
    • Reformat data spreadsheet if needed
    • Discuss how we will set up our next trial
  • Artificial Caterpillar Model team:
    • Prepare to head to the Experimental Ecosystem site
      • This site is great because it is more research protected
      • Bring the caterpillar clay models, stakes, and other materials to test our experiment
    • Test whether which method may be best in getting more insect types to stick onto the caterpillar models
  • Fly Arena team:
    • Continue to construct your prototypes and test your fly arenas with fruit flies
  • Will need to wash a lot of petri dishes and containers!

On a final note, I’m excited on how our experiments will progress throughout this quarter! No matter what obstacles we go through, we can always find a way to resolve them one way or the other!

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