A team from the Frost recently participated in a bioblitz at Sinnemahoning State Park, which was, I have to say, a pretty amazing place to collect insects. I’m a couple weeks late in posting an update, but it’s taking us awhile to sort specimens. We don’t have a complete list yet, but highlights for me include:
- Odonata, of course! We collected or observed maybe 10 species, including Chalk-fronted Corporals (Libellulidae: Ladona julia), Carolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina), a Dot-tailed Whiteface (Leucorrhinia intacta), a Common Green Darner (Aeshnidae: Anax junius), Eastern Forktails (Coenagrionidae: Ischnura verticalis), and Aurora Damsels (Chromagrion conditum). I also collected my first ever Emeralds (Corduliidae), which I have yet to determine:
- Hymenoptera, of course! We saw tons of bumble bee queens, especially Bombus impatiens and B. bimaculatus (Apidae), as well as multiple species of Halictidae (sweat bees) and Andrenidae (miner bees). We even netted a few Nomada specimens (cuckoo bees), prowling at the entrances of miner bee nests. Our primary target were parasitoid wasps, though, and we’re still poring over that haul. There are tons of Ichneumonidae, Braconidae, Scelionidae, Platygastridae, Dipariidae, and the other usual suspects, with a few tenthredinid sawflies mixed in.
- Lepidoptera. I finally had a chance to pin and spread a few leps—something I hadn’t done in a long time. My favorite species from this bioblitz was Drepana arcuata, the Arched Hooktip Moth (Drepanidae). I haven’t collected one of these since grad school. Looks like a UFO or stealth moth:
We saw so many interesting insects it’s a challenge even to list just a few highlights. What about all the beetles, flies, mecopterans, etc.?! I hope to get to them some day. I can list a few lessons we learned, though:
- We need new waders, aerial nets, pan trap accessories, vials, etc. Nothing like a field trip with old gear to motivate us to clean house, take inventory, and go shopping. That was the first thing we did when we got back to State College.
- We should provide updates in real time. There was no cell coverage, though the organizers did provide patchy wireless. I would have loved to tweet images, live blog our discoveries, and generate a list on the fly. Now that we know the layout of the park and what resources the visitor’s center has it should be easy to do this next time.
- We need to participate in more bioblitzes and other events! What a great way to raise awareness of insects and of the Frost Museum. It’s also a great way to grow our collection of Pennsylvania insects, one of our core missions.
- Light trapping next to a clean river will bring MILLIONS of amazing insects … that climb into every orifice on your body. Be prepared.