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Bugs and Burning


Monica Lilley

This morning I went and hung out with a couple of entomologists at a new spot down at the river. On the way to the spot, we saw LOADS of crocodiles from the chopper. Unfortunately, we are still yet to see any up close. Whilst down at the creek, Susan and Chris, two of the entomologists showed us how to catch crawling and flying insects using nets and bottles. We then set up the plate traps we learnt about yesterday, before heading up the creek to catch whatever we could find. The most impressive things I caught were a native bee called a sugarbag bee, a crow butterfly and a dragonfly. The entomologists make sure only to take what they need and not too many so it doesn’t majorly disrupt the ecosystem.

Next, we took the chopper back to camp, so we could spend a little bit more time with J.R and Kenny before they leave on Sunday morning. We were very lucky that they had decided with the park ranger that the day was a good day to do some backburning because the weather was not super dry yet and there is rain on the radar for Monday. J.R explained how to do a cool burn, by burning certain grass at a certain time and knowing the area and trees that will ensure the burn is controlled and will stop itself. This is indicated by the landmarks near by and the type of trees which create a natural fire barrier. It was extremely fascinating learning about it all, and I have a video about I can show you back at school. We were very lucky to partake in the burning as well! After the fire starts, it is the perfect time to keep collecting insects, as the smoke from the fire and the slow burn gives the insects and animals time to escape. We caught an enormous number of bugs, some which were very interesting. Including some beautiful green cockroaches which make hissing noises and a spectacular stick insect.

We brought them back to camp to give to the entomologists, who later started to sort and pin them like the photo below. Our last stop for the day was setting traps down at the creek with mammologist Heather near camp hoping to catch some small mammals like rats, mice and quolls. We set three different traps including wire traps, Elliot traps and a harp trap. The harp trap is to see if we can catch any bats. The interesting part of the trapping is the bait that we used. They were balls made out of oats, peanut butter, honey, vanilla essence and pistachio essence (they smelt pretty tasty to me too). Tomorrow morning, bright and early we are going to check the trap and also watch Will check his bird traps at the creek, and take their blood to study them before releasing them again. Hopefully we are able to catch something interesting! I’ll report back tomorrow.

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