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Chasing Butterflies


Sarah Lacey

Today was my first full day at Charnley River Station. After being woken up by the screaming of bats and a quick breakfast I went with the “bug team” to do my first day of field work. This team consists of true bug, butterfly, and parasitic wasp experts. After a 40-minute car drive to the “standard site” we were at our first sampling site. A standard site is a place that must be sampled by all scientists on the Bush-Blitz expedition.

Some of the techniques for collecting bug samples.

  1. Beating – To collect bugs via beating you take a stick and a canvas net. You hit the tree/bush branches holding the net underneath. The bugs on the branches fall off into the net. You examine the net and then use a pooter to suck the bug into a vial.
  2. Sweeping – In this method, you drag a butterfly net over the branches of low-lying scrub or bushes. By bringing the net back and forth rapidly you can catch bugs that were on the bush.
  3. Netting – To collect an insect flying around you need to be quick! Drag the net over the insect and then twist to trap.
  4. Malaise trap – this is a net that is placed to funnel insects into a jar of ethanol. This collection technique can be left out and is non-discriminatory to the type of insect it collects.

After the standard site, we then headed to Grevillea Gorge. We had lunch next to a beautiful pool on smooth rocks in the shade and even saw a snake making its way up the rock face. At the gorge we sampled both along the sides at the scrub and we could even climb down and sample within the gorge itself. After a long day of hiking through scrub, climbing up and down rock faces and chasing elusive butterflies we were able to collect several samples to be processed for the site. This can include new species to the area, brand new species found or just creating a record of what is in the area.