Good-looking bees from bowl traps without having to wash and dry them afterwards - a game changer
- Note that dictation software was used in this message and thus odd word swaps can slip in!
Bowl traps work very well for monitoring and inventorying bees, but require that you carefully wash and dry the specimens prior to pinning or you risk the hair and wings becoming matted and the resulting specimen difficult to identify.
Or do you?
Recently, we discovered that if you processed specimens within 24 hours to 36 hours following their capture in bowl traps the hair and wings retained a much more natural look than if you let the specimens soak in water, propylene glycol, or alcohol for long periods of time.
Additionally, we have recently begun to use disposable paper paint strainers as a means to increase our efficiency at collecting bowl trap samples in the field. After collecting a set of bowls by dumping them into a paint strainer, we simply fold the paint strainer up, staple it at the top and usually throw it into a box or a bucket in the car. We then continue to collect whatever transects we have set out that day and then in the afternoon or evening we bag everything into a large plastic bag and put things directly into the freezer without transferring anything to alcohol.
We realized this past week, however, that we actually did not need to wash and dry specimens that were handled in this way. Simply taking them out of the freezer and dumping them into petri dishes resulted in quite good looking specimens. If you had captured a lot of skippers in a sample then you can get a bit more dust on the specimens from scales and if you did not rinse the soap off specimens in the field then there can be a slight dull sheen to specimens, however this never was extensive enough to prevent the easy identification of the resulting specimens.
It appears that the combination of quick removal from the water, the paper soaking up any residual water in the specimens, and the freezing of the specimens rather than storing them in a liquid results in specimens that have not become soggy and essentially dry on their own in the freezer. Thus specimens can be pinned directly from the freezer or stored in petri dishes (after drying completely) for identification directly out of the petri dishes completely skipping the washing and drying procedures of the past. This saves a tremendous amount of time although creates a slightly dirtier specimen than one that was washed and dried completely. However, on the other hand, their hair looks better and the wings are less shriveled than specimens coming out long storage in liquids.
THERE is wind where the rose was,
Cold rain where sweet grass was,
And clouds like sheep
Stream o'er the steep
Grey skies where the lark was.
Nought warm where your hand was,
Nought gold where your hair was,
But phantom, forlorn,
Beneath the thorn,
Your ghost where your face was.
Cold wind where your voice was,
Tears, tears where my heart was,
And ever with me,
Child, ever with me,
Silence where hope was.
Walter De La Mare- November