To catch a bug

Well we are officially beginning our venture into bug-dom. I will be the first to admit, I dislike insects. To be frank they gross me out. I really prefer things with spines…but hey, it isn’t really possible for us to bring a right whale into the lab, is it? So we will expand our horizons and our minds and branch out into the world of Orthoptera (a particularly noisy order of insects).

Our goal? To determine if these noisy bugs will shift the frequencies of their calls with varying temperatures. If they do, will there be a point where calls of different species overlap? If so, they would then be competing for acoustic space. In other words, they would have problems hearing other individuals of their own species because of this new conflict. That could be a big problem since many insects in the order Orthoptera use sound to communicate, mainly to find a mate. If they can no longer find a mate, there is a good possibility of that species falling into a decline. Bad news.

So we will venture forth and bring these beasts back to the lab where we will record their noisy calls. But first, we must catch them…not nearly as easy as you might think. Today was round one. We went out to Dr. Tom Starmer’s property, which he was kind enough to let us use. There he has acres of fields and forests. We only needed to trek to the very first field before we found what we were looking for. In fact, we only needed to use the path!

three lab members walking through a grassy path
Searching for bugs while we walk!

We caught as many cricket-like insects as we could of as many different kinds as we could (as far as we could tell anyway). Before long, we had filled our port-a-bugs and were headed back to the lab to sort out our loot!

three lab members moving a bug from a net to a cage
It is a three person job to get a bug from a net to a port-a-bug, trust me!
brown bug in a cage

Today’s totals: 6 Roesel’s katydids, 4 two-striped grasshoppers (we think), and one unknown green bug with really long legs. Now let’s see if we can keep them alive!