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Flotsam harvesting

Flotsam harvesting
Nashua, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, USA
April 20, 2007
Here are my four arboreal hanging baited traps that I employed in a different maner here.
I had one for ants, one for large beetles, one for caterpillars, and one for true bugs. I rapidly concluded that stink bugs were not something I wanted to suck up into my aspirator vial since they were prone to releasing a lot of unpleasant defensive juice in the jumble-tumble excitement with a seething mess of beetles crawling on them. I began placing all bugs directly into the converted soda bottle. Once in they have a hard time finding the opening in the inverted top of the bottle.

(These big polycarbanate bottles are a good low-budget entomology resource. I am using the tops of 2-liter soda bottles as funnels in a 16-gang Berlese funnel array I am building.)

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Berlese funnels
I'm curious to know what your Berlese funnel setup is like...I'm planning on trying this technique this year to sample for small beetles living in leaf litter, moss, animal nests, and other microhabitats. My setup will probably be from soda bottles as well. As for sample processing, do you just directly dump the material into the funnel or do you sift it first through a coarse mesh to get rid of the large pieces of litter?
Btw, the traps that you have here are almost identical to the bottle traps I use to collect water beetles (especially the medium to large ones). In this case, the trap would be submerged in water, lying on one side. I attach a float to the bottle with a string so that I can locate it the next day when I collect the trap. I put in some bait (meat/fish will do) and let it sit for a few hours to overnight.

Hi Tim,
Sorry to say I never assembled the Berlese array, although I had all the parts. I was going to seat the "funnels" in a thick slab of isocyanurate foam, boring seats in it with a full (pressurized) 2-liter bottle dipped in glue, then glass chips. Each funnel would be labeled for its position in the array and would have a tab left on it by which to lift it. There was to be a small piece of screen glued in the bottom (above the neck) of each funnel and an incandescent Christmas tree bulb positioned over each funnel. The bottle cap would contain a wet wad of tissue as refuge for the little critters driven downward by the bulb above. My interest was in obtaining live specimens to photograph of course. A bit of antifreeze in the cap might do for retrieving dead specimens.

I hope to finish the project some day but am focused at the moment on relocating to Ecuador in a few years. Just now I'm in Ecuador to buy some land and am shooting a ton of beetles while I wait on the various steps in buying the property.

I happened to see your Ecuador photos on flickr and I'm so jealous!
I can say the last time I had close encounters with live, wild tropical bugs was when I was living in Southeast Asia (it's been about 14 years now since I left for Canada). I spent about half my life living in Singapore (was born and grew up there) and often spent my school holidays travelling up to Malaysia with family. I vividly remembered one of the hotels we stayed at - it was in a tourist hotspot known as Cameron Highlands, and you could find large beetles and cicadas right at your doorstep (and some in the hotel room too). All sorts of rainforest insects and spiders could be seen congregrating on the walls at the hotel lights at night. I wasn't into collecting back then but now it seems like a good idea to start saving up for a trip back there.

the worst nightmare for some is a bugguide wet dream ;-)

I'm posting my new images on flickr too, mainly leaf beetles so far but that's to let bugguide's Rob Westerduijn see them. He's in Peru studying leaf beetles. I'll add the rest as I can:

cheap traps
Hi Jim, I've tried using these 2-liter bottles as cheap pit-fall traps. I have to dig a little deeper than with some others (not a problem in my rockless soil), but you can't beat the price. How are you using them as "arboreal hanging baited traps"? For Nits?

Great info on the flotsam harvest. I never would have thought to look at this "habitat", especially as cold as it's been down here.

Hi Tim,
I've just constructed them for use this summer. I imagine nits and some scarabs and LH beetles might visit them as well as an assortment of bees, wasps, and flies. I'll try various baits.

I'll suspend them with twine strung through the tabs or "ears" I left on either side of the outer/bottom section and they will have a good length hanging down to tie them off and prevent wind buffeting. They'll have an extra long length above by which to suspend them. The end will be tied around a rock and thrown over a high branch. By also tying that end off within easy reach I will have a trap that can be raised and lowered, emptied of specimens, refilled with fresh bait, and strung up on high again and again.

I guess I should go ahead and make one up with twine, drilling small weep holes in the bottom to prevent drowning specimens when it rains. Then I can photograph it in position and otherwise and do a detailed bugguide photo spread.

btw, for cheap pitfalls made from recycled materials, I like the removeable liner concept for ease of collection and replacement:

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