Life as a falconer, insect systematist, and double Masters Student (or a look into the mind of someone who is questionably sane).
19 July 2006
Back at the Otel (the M on the motel sign is missing) in Van horn. Had a sucessful visit to A&M- its nice to work with people who know what they're doing when it comes to leafhoppers. I got pretty good at subfamily sorting of the common subfamilies. By the last A-tray there were only a handful of bugs in the wrong group. Next I morphogrouped the Dominican leafhoppers we had in collection and I tried keying them out. This didnt go so well but I got a few right. Just need to learn the key better. We went to the Japanese place for dinner then came back and I got to clear some leafhopper abdomens. Basicly inorder to id bugs to species you have to remove the tails and then soak them in a base to dissolve the non hardened parts. You then look at the genetilia and make an ID. Ive done a bit of this but not much and Chris's method is a bit different than what I've done before. I watched him do one then he had me try on these Gypona from dominica. As usual we only had 1 male (we had a female also, but these are not useful for ID). I grabbed the male, thought about it for a sec thought maybe i should do the female incase i messed up, but then decided to stick with the male. I tried popping the abdomen off but no go. So i pushed a little harder and it went flying. Chris saw what direction it went so he looked around for a while while i looked around my work station. No luck on either count, it happens but it sucks it was the only one I had. As Chris said, guess that one wont be the holotype (bug that is attached to a new species description). I got better at it though and after a few trys I got to move up to bugs chris's 2 phd students needed cleared. These went well except for one cicidellinae that I totally destroyed. By the time I was done with it the head was in one place, a hind wing was on the microscope stage, the other hind wing was attached to a part of the thorax with a forewing. The pieces were atleast fairly intact so out came the elmers glue- my 2nd favorite Dietrich quote- thats the beauty of bugs you can just glue the pieces back on. Today I looked at the genetilia and did a couple of species IDs. Definatly glad I came back to A&M for Dietrichs visit. Im going to try and visit while at the ESA meeting and hopefully go to the Auchenorrhyncha Group meeting, and maybe go up for a week sometime to get somemore experience with ids.