Oliver Lintott - Day One

 Day One - A truly unique, spellbinding and mindblowing experience. 

I have to be honest that when I found out my first field assignment was collecting insects from within the grounds of Parliament House I was quite excited, not because I thought that we would actually have any success but because I figured, how often am I likely to be let loose to roam around the gardens of a 'somewhat' secure facility! 

I spent the day with a number of people from the Bush Bltiz team, who I will introduce in later blogs, but my main man for this segment of the expedition was Dr. Ryan Shofner a Hemipetra 'True Bug' expert.

There were a number of ways in which we attempted to locate and catch these bugs the photos below show me inspecting my net after successfully “bashing bushes” and deftly catching the ‘things’ that came out of them! We also had ‘pan traps’ set up which we had to inspect, I have to add at this point that my teachable moment for the day came at this time.

Teachable Moment - Pan Traps are so simple and so effective, I plan to have some of my students set these up in and around our veggie garden at school to get a better understanding of what bio diversity already exists within the school community.

So, what is a pan trap and how is this actually going to work for me? I plan to collect some of the waste plastic containers that our Home Economics department generates and get my students to select the container they think will work best and then paint the container a colour of their choice, again with whatever they think will attract the most living organisms. I am hoping that there will be significant variety within the class so that once we fill the containers with water and a little detergent so the ‘things’ can’t fly away we will be able to start analysing what shape and colour of container is most effective over a number of weeks. Whilst also refining the process and having a little fun competition to see whose container collects the most diversity we will keep a tally and photo record the findings of our traps.

 

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Back to my day, under Ryan’s expert guidance, we defied the odds and collected a plethora of interesting (according to Ryan) bugs. This was all despite my constant need to ask, “Is this one?” after every tree bashing.

Once we had checked our pan traps and bashed far too many trees Olivia Evangelista showed Jane (another Bush Blitz Teach Live Teacher in the centre photo on the top row) the benefits of using a malaise trap. This is the mosquito net looking thing in the same photo. This trap is set up for a number of days and is designed to catch all manner of unsuspecting flying creatures.

 

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Some of the Interesting Critters found throughout the day. 

 

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After all the excitement of catching true bugs I was rewarded for my hard work with the news that in the midst of all our catching’s was a very special spider! Dr. Robert Raven has written a little blurb about Ryan and my special catch below!

This is a small cribellate male desid (chelicerae are normal, i.e., not a dictynid) spider whose overall similarity suggests it is near Badumna but has a different palp (male reporodcutive structre which is a differnet shape for each species) but is much more ornate! It was taken in Parliament House, Canberra by Ryan Shofner and Oliver Lintott who were beating bushes in the gardens, by invitation. It has the older shape of the eye group in which the front row is slightly curved back and the back row is curved forward.

If that didn't make all that much sense to you know this, we (pending lab results) found a new species and possibly new genus of spider today! This is him below.

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Tidbinbilla Nature Reserves - I finally found a platypus! YAY!

 

Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any better Ryan, Eamon Amsters (a budding arachnologist) and myself were lucky enough to witness two platypus frolicking in the waters at Tidbinbilla national park on our evening bug and spider hunt!

  

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