2019 sort sessions #9 and #10

Sort session #9 took place during spring break and was shortened a bit by the presence of my 6- and 8-year old. I wanted them to enjoy the experience and to be effective team members, so we created a very simple task: while looking through a microscope, separate all the things you could recognize as arthropods from a sweep sample that was totally polluted by plant parts.

Usually my attempts to integrate these kids into my entomological experiences are met with … resistance. I was pleasantly surprised this time by their frequent gasps—Cool! Look at this one! I didn’t know wasps could be so small! (Nevermind that I have been trying to teach them about insects their whole lives!) It was a good reminder that often what fascinates non-experts are the insects I find almost routine.

Sort session #10 focused on Araneae. We have an interesting collection of spiders from the caves of Pennsylvania, primarily from the early 1960s. We also have a nice collection of spiders from the 1880s that was in serious need of preservative and vial upgrades. I managed to digitize and accession a mere 24 lots.

I have no doubt we could be more efficient with some of our processes, but collection growth can be a slow process.

large spider clings to a wall

Heteropoda venatoria (Linnaeus, 1767) photographed (CC BY-NC 2.0) by Ying-Yuan Lo. Click for source. I digitized a specimen yesterday that was collected in Philadelphia probably more than 100 years ago. It undoubtedly came up in a potted plant or some other import from the south. Watch for our record to appear in GBIF soon: https://www.gbif.org/species/2161710

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