A Bug’s Life
The SCA interns have been hard at work on the Legacy Trail, a project designed to restore the woodland habit near Nursery Way. The trail will be a useful tool in educating visitors on species diversity and the importance of ecosystem health. A good measure of an ecosystem’s stability is its insect population. By monitoring these species found on the trail, Duke Farms will be able to gauge the site’s biodiversity and, in turn, the ecosystem’s health. Monitoring and identification of these species will be used to establish a database of insect species found at Duke Farms—data that can be shared with other research organizations.
In order to observe the insects living on the trail, SCA interns are using four habitat-specific monitoring methods. The bowl-trap method is a passive trap aimed at collecting Hymenoptera (bees and wasps) on trail edges, where vegetation is low to the ground. A malaise trap and sweep-netting are used in meadow-like habitats where insects fly amongst the flowers and grass. Under the tree canopy, a black-light trap is used to attract Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) during the night. After collection, all samples are identified down to genus and documented as part of the interns’ ongoing Legacy Trail project.
Following careful documentation, samples are processed and added to a pinned arthropod collection that will allow visitors to view the critters up close. Getting to know these insects is the first step in understanding the crucial role they play in ecosystem health. The interns aim to use the pinned collection as well as education along the Legacy Trail, to teach visitors about the importance of insect presence in their backyards, gardens, and natural environments. Stay tuned to learn about how a “bug hotel” will help them meet these goals!