Lessons learned

Yesterday was another long day of bug hunting and cage cleaning, but like every day on this project it was also a day filled with surprises. Jess, Tricia and I headed out early to try to catch some more male crickets and katydids, and maybe even something new along the way. We reached our new spot and were disappointed to hear nothing. No crickets. No katydids. Jess has a hypothesis that they all stop calling when it is cloudy, and it was definitely cloudy. In fact, before too long we had tostop and wait for a bit while it rained. Luckily it only lasted about 10 minutes and we were ready to go.

lab member hold bug net
Tricia patiently waiting out the rain!

One good thing about the rain? We had much better luck with the crickets after. It seems that maybe crickets come out into the open and move a bit more after the rain, perhaps to find a dry spot. However it works, we found 4 crickets in only a matter of minutes, 2 of which were adult males. After that, we had no more luck in the cricket department, but Jess did find a really cool looking true katydid which was pretty exciting since we haven’t seen any yet. Success!

lab member holding bug cage
Jess with her freshly caught true katydid!

After being unable to locate even a single katydid, we packed up and headed to our other collecting site, Dr. Starmer’s property. We have had luck there all summer so far and yesterday didn’t disappoint. We managed to get 8 new male Roesel’s katydids and Tricia found another true katydid. Success again!

When we got back to the lab however we realized we were in for quite the challenge. Where were we going to put all these bugs?? After quite a bit of hard thinking, we thought we had it all figured out (thought being the key word). First, we decided to paint the male katydids that we already ran experiments on so that we could house them with the new ones and still keep track of them. We tried just going in with the nail polish, and that failed miserably. We then decided maybe Jess could just hold the legs and we could quickly put a small dab of polish on him. Not our best plan…turns out katydids can willingly detach from their legs whenever they find the need. Well this one found the need. Lesson learned.

Now we were down a few more houses, so we decided all the male crickets could just simply live together right? Another bad idea…turns out crickets don’t like each other very much. After finally breaking up the near death match that soon ensued, we decided they should probably be housed separately. Lesson learned.

Now that we were still short on space, we figured perhaps we could use some spare plastic tubs we had and just poke some air holes in the top. Upon doing a quick check later on, we discovered the tubs were no longer clear…the water that we keep the plants in had completely evaporated and condensed on the sides of the tubs! We don’t know for sure, but we are assuming that might be TOO much moisture for the little guys. Apparently more air holes are needed. Lesson learned.

We eventually got everyone situated, but now our counter tops are covered by 4 bug dorms, 2 small hermit crab cages, one large hermit crab cage, and 8 small plastic tubs (with mesh for ventilation of course). We may need to rethink our layout!

Total bug count as of July 11: 43

3 bush katydids, 4 spring field crickets, 12 Roesel’s katydids, 6 migratory grasshoppers, 12 two-striped grasshoppers, 4 Eastern swordbearers, and 2 true katydids. Next up: cicadas…