And So The Bush Blitz Adventure Begins!

The scientists have rolled into Birrigai and Bush Blitz is on! A convoy of cars has driven in the gates and Birrigai is very excited to welcome the Bush Blitz ACT 2018 team. Tents are up, the comms room established, and teams briefed. 

 I was fortuitous enough to have my first taste of what is to come over the next week. I worked with scientists to select a site at Birrigai for all teams to survey over the course of the expedition. It is planned that this will then become an ongoing monitored site by ACT students visiting Birrigai. I then spent the rest of the day with Juanita Rodriguez, an entomologist with ANIC and CSIRO.

Juanita’s specialty is wasps. Clearly years spent looking at the ground has trained her eye to notice a whole lot more than this novice. She was diving on the ground ninja style, aspirator and vial at the ready, able to discern between an ant and a wasp in the blink of an eye. I just saw ants and tiny ones at that, but Juanita was able differentiate between these and a wasp pretending to be an ant, commonly known as a velvet ant. Apparently, the velvet ant is fatter and hairier and walks differently. Hmmmmm, might be awhile before I can be of any help catching them.

velvetant


To catch wasps not pretending to be ants, I assisted Juanita to set up malaise traps at different sites around Birrigai. They look a bit like the inner of a hiking tent with black net walls and a white net roof. When set up in an insect flight path, the insects don’t see the dark netting and fly into it. They think the white top is the sky and therefore freedom. But alas, instead they find it leads to a bottle of ethanol and no return. We will return later during the expedition to collect the insects in the ethanol trap. Juanita is especially hopeful to collect spider wasps, which are one of her main study specimens.

Malaisetrap

I am so excited to be a part of this expedition. Bring on tomorrow!