Life as a falconer, insect systematist, and double Masters Student (or a look into the mind of someone who is questionably sane).

26 January 2007

running from the cops, well not quite but running from someone

The first week of school was rather amusing, especially since we didnt have to go to school the first 2 days due to snow. Instead my time was spent hanging around in Heep (shocking I know) working on getting stuff ready for the semester. That extra 2 days really helped give me a little more time to recover from Guatemala. Whartons lab continues to leak, I was over there till midnite on Sunday helping JAC and Wharton try and engineer a way to channel the water coming in. We were joined by some physical plant guy who pretty much said we had come up with a better solution than they had at the moment. The entire lab is full of tarps and tubes leading to the sink its pretty crazy. The hole in the roof is big enough you can actually see it from the ground looking up apparently one of hte spot welds broke- gotta love low low low bid contractors. After using clay from the micoroscope stands to channel the water we decieded enough dammage had been done for one night and called it a night. Me and JAC went to his place and played CatchPhrase with his roommates, its a pretty fun game, similar to taboo but less restrictions.

The original plan had been to go to AZ the weekend after school started to pick up the bird. JAC was going to come with me since he didn't want me driving all the way by myself, but most of the route was suppose to get snow, so we decided to postpone to the following weekend. I talked to Ralph and he said they were suppose to get a bad storm through and since the ground was frozen it would probabily stick pretty good, and he basicly forbid me from going. At that point I was already quesitoning going anyway, if it had been just me i would have gone, but I wouldn't put JAC at risk due to my own stubronness. So thrusday night rather than packing we went over to Stephen and Dasiys for dinner. Daisy, Maria, and Annaliese watched Grays anatomy then we all watched Monster Truck Rally. After watching that and then some hunting shows on the outdoor network we decided we should go try and shoot some birds. So me, JAC, Maria, and Stephen loaded up in stephens truck with a couple pellet guns and took off for tcwc, followed by annaliese and will. We got to TCTW and parked the truck. THere was a truck near the herbearium enterance, but we didnt see anyone so we walked over to the nature trail. Stephen heard a bird in the grass but none of us could find it, so we took off again. We walked a good ways through the trail but no luck, so we started just playing aournd out there. we came to a gully with a pipe across it so JAC the showoff walked across it. I decided to stick to the ground and ran across the gully. We made it back to the fence and this time rather than walking the extra 200yrds to the gate decided to go though the locked gate. We all made it through without too mcuh problem, ecept for will who climbed over the fence. As we made it across we realized that the truck had its lights on now so we all ran across the grass hiding our guns and dove behind various objects. Me, JAC, and maria ended up behind one of the trailers. Stephen ran to the truck and jumped inside and was going to come pick us up. We jumped in and threw the guns under the seat and out of view. The truck started looping around into the parking lot we were in and we elected annalise to go talk to the guy since everyone likes her. So she went over there and we all stayed in the trucks. They talked for a bit and then he drove off. She came back and told us hed asked what we were doing and she told him we were doing our ornitholgy project and listening for owls. It wasnt anyone from our dept. so they didnt know any better. It was great fun.

11 January 2007

The Homecoming

Our last day in guatemala was pretty crazy. We got all our stuff packed up and Jose came and picked us up. We loaded up the truck and then drove to the airport, which is undergoing major renovations. He dropped us off and we said our good byes. The four of us then headed in. me, AMC, and David checked in and got everything squared away while JRJ went and checked in for his flight since he was again on a different plane. We then went and payed the exit tax which was about 2$ US. We started to head towards security but then David decided he wanted a nice 20$ Q bill for the display frame he was making so went back to the exit tax people and got one. Then we went through security and customs. None of us had any problems going through either so that was quite exciting. Inside the terminal we found some more souviner shops to play around in while we waited for our flights. We found some brightly colored clothes that we all wanted but I had no cash so JRJ bought me the one I liked. Its rainbow colored, should look nice on my desk. I then went out to the lobby area and transfered some moths around and watched all the people running around. As David and I were sitting there I heard someone yelling my name. I looked up and saw Christina from Dominca class in the airport along with her boyfriend. Totally random, but typical Catanach trait of running into people you know everywhere. They were on our flight. We headed off to our gate and had to go through a second round of security to get into our gate. We then waited around forever until they finally called us to board. Me and AMC sat together again, but fell asleep instantly and I slept basicly all the way to houston. Once we landed we got our bags and went through immigration and customs. AMC went first and they asked her what she had and she told them dead insects. they sent her and us over to the ag inspection line where they just waved her and i through. They totally searched David and made him fill out the FWS forms before theyd let him leave. Then we emerged into the normal part of the airport. Davids wife was waiting for him and they left. AMC and I found a place to sit and waited for her mom. I called JAC and told him we were back in the US of A and he asked if wed be back in time for dinner. I told him itd be late but wed be back by 9, so he said call him when we left and hed have dinner ready. AMCs mom got to the airport and we loaded up our gear. Traffic was bad, but we made it to her house and got the stuff wed left there. After hanging around for a little bit we decided it was time to leave so we could make it back for dinner at a semi reasonable hour. The trip back was uneventful, just talked about guatamala and how much we want to go back. When we got to college station we ran by AMC's apt to drop off some stuff and then went to cammack's. Dinner was almost ready and we talked bugs while he finished up the cooking. I drank some milk- the one thing I've discovered tastes totally different if you're out of the country, so had been craving some good american milk for a week. Then we broke out the beer. The 3 of us talked bugs and collecting while we ate, it was great fun to have JAC back with us, he definatly makes things fun. We pulled out some of our bugs to show off what we'd collected and then told the collecting story highlights. Dinner was great, ate quite a bit and enjoyed the good times. It really did feel like I had come home, sitting there in the kitchen eating a homemade dinner (well wed been eating homemade food the whole trip but this was made by someone who did it cause he liked us not cause we were customers), telling stories, and planning the next trip. It really was a nice ending to a good trip. I think coming home to an empty house would have been different, I'm so glad JAC was there. Eventually we decided to call it a night and AMC dropped me off at Maria's friends apartment where my truck was. I went inside and saw her for a few min before I took my truck and went to heep to deal with the trap samples. I re alchoholed the samples, played a bit on the computer then called it a night.

10 January 2007

Guatamala Day 8

We woke up about 715 and I quickly got ready. We went over to Jacks shortly before 740 and I ate some oreos for breakfast (breakfast of champions) JRJ showed up just as we needed to leave ands like is it too late for breakfast? AMC sent him upstairs to grab her kill jar shed lent him and we met dave outside. Hes like wheres josh? For once though we actually knew where he was. Jack drives a BMW so we loaded up in it- dave in the back for once and drove a few feet before Jack realized we were making the car ride even lower than normal. He said hed bottom out if we all stayed in the car so everyone but AMC piled out and he drove up the driveway. We got back in but he bottomed out going over the grate so we all got out and he drove up the block until he got to a flat area and we piled back in again. Along the way we set off a ton of dogs including a husky on the roof of the house next door and this ugly shaved thing with bangs. AMC said it had an angry haircut so she didn’t like it. Back in the car we bottomed out going over the joint with the street and slowly made our way to campus- there was a ton of traffic so it took a bit. We arrived at the university (and highschool, grade school, and elementary school) and were let into the parking lot. We walked up to the 3rd floor of a large building where entomology was. The halls and everything were outside and the place had a sort of high school feel to it (complete with lockers). The building was pretty nice as was the landscaping. The ento rooms included a collection, a working area, an applied lab and jacks office for systematics and ecotourism. Jose had told me that ecotourism was a major there and he was actually jacks 1st student in it since he didn’t do so well in chem. etc for biology. We toured collections- there were quite a few cabinets but looking in the drawers made me cringe. There were bugs crammed in, stacked on top of eachother, pieces everywhere, looked like there was a dermested problem at some point, and also a totally nonstandard labling system, pointing, and lines. It was actually painful for me to look at. There were 3 drawers of cicadellids- all unsorted. So I had my work cut out for me. There was also a computer with internet acess which was quite exciting for me the internet junkie that I am. JRJ, AMC, and I walked with jack to find out where the cafeteria was and then AMC and I walked a bit farther towards the parking garage.. Back at collections I checked my e-mail and sent a few to various people. Midway through this a girl came in and said she was the one that use to work on Cicadellids. We talked for a while, turnes out she hasn’t worked on them for about a year since shes now working on mosquitoes. Eventually jrj appeared and started talking to her also. They took off to look at mecoptera and I went back to my e-mail. Once I was done with this I started working on leafhoppers. I stared at the drawers just trying to figure out where to start. It was such a disaster area. They seemed to have about 6 drawers of material and absolutely no rhyme or reason to it- it wasn’t even grouped by collection as far as I could tell which seems to be the most common way for unsorted material. I decided to just start doing a basic subfamily sort and stick names on stuff I knew as I came to it. By now it was about 1030 and I was starting to get hungery. Jose showed up a bit after 11- it was nice to have my main source of entertainment (exclucing AMC of cource) back in the area. He brought in a drawer full of bugs he was donating- it was uplifiting to see a drawer in good shape with nice neat and orderly rows, with good data on nice looking labels and bugs all in one piece. Sort of restored my hope in Guatemalan entomology. JRJ took a picture to document the donation since apparently theyre not so good at keeping track. Jose needed something to download the picture on so I pulled out my cardreader and he pulled it off. I was starving by now and asked him when we were going to go eat. Hes like are you hungery? I told him I was then remarked that he should know the answer to that by now since im always up for more food. He said wed go in 10 min and told the others. I went back and moved a few more bugs around. So far its a lot of cicadellinae, some delts, and a fair number of gyponinae. Very few typhos but I think that’s a sampling bias. It was time to go eat so the 5 of us headed down to the street. The truck was pretty close to the exit was used so that was exciting. I think I could recognize that truck anywhere now. Jose said we were going to a Mexican place near the university and his wife would meet us there we got to the place and he dropped us off to go park. We went in and grabbed a table. A women came and took our drink orders. Jose came in and said our measls would come with lemonade so went and canceled the orders. We sat around waiting then got our drinks. Jose's wife came and ate with us also. The lemonade was great. I ordered fish (dolphin fish) which was quite tasty. After lunch we went to the souvineer area and wandered around looking for things to buy. I found a Gallo shirt and decided i wanted one but couldnt figure out what color to get. We went to a bunch of shops and I found some small paintings. They were really cool looking- bright with mountians and boats. So i got one for cammack, and one for my parents. I then saw one that was a bit larger and got that for myself. While AMC was getting a few also I went next door and got a black Gallo shirt. Then she and I wandered somemore until we came across these cool paintings done on tree trunk sections. I got one of those also. I declared myself to be done shopping and so just wandered around looking at the shops. After everyone was finished we went back to the collection and worked until about 6. We went to burger king for dinner which was quite an adventure. AMC went 1st and told them no for everything including is this for here? So we got our food in take out bags. I tried ordering a number 1 without vegetibles. Even though i used the correct words i still got veggies on it. O well. They didnt give me a sprite but after trying to figure it out withough either one being able to understand the other they gave me a sprite. So much easier with Jose coming to the rescue when ordering gets tricky. We were joined by the department head for biology. We were going to get ice cream but the place closed while we were still eating dinner so we got some oreo pies and me, amc, and jrj split one. It wasnt bad. After eating we went back to Jacks and AMC and I worked on getting the trap samples dealchoholed. It took a while but we got it done. Then i sat at the kitchen table and got my bugs packaged. Jack came out with jrj talking about music. Jack was playing the guitar then gave it to jrj to play with and played the mandilne. jack got out this instrument that is stringed and played with 2 bows. he gave it to jones to try and play happy birthday on and while he was attempting this amc came in. She was handed the instrument and told to play 3 blind mice. Which ended with us trying to sing it while she played. It was quite fun. Jack then got out a kazoo and handed it to her since she wanted to start a kazoo band. 1st she couldnt blow into right then she was using it backwards. Jack got her straightend out and she played with it for a while. He then got out some of his tapes and we listened to them while he translated the words. The music sounds pretty neat and the lyrics tell stories, some about the revolution and that sort of thing. They were really big during the revolution and were actually taken to costa rica during the peace talks to play. We then moved into the music room and listened to some of his other stuff. He finally called it a night around 1 and me and amc went to bed pretty much right away

09 January 2007

Guatamala Day 7

The alarm went off at 215 and we decided to wait until 4. at 4 a woke up and went out to check the traps. I got some beetles, a few hymenoptera, and a couple other random things. I also grabbed a chrysopid on my way back to the room off the guys room wall. I was just dosing off when I heard a rustling on the shelf. It then touched one of the malaise trap jars so I got worried that whatever it was would knock down one of the jars that was cracked open to let the alchol evaporate out of the worrlpack. So I pulled my bioquip light out of my pocket and flashed it over there. I saw nothing but figured it was probably a mouse. We had been talking about them at dinner yesterday and dave had told us about putting on a pair of shorts in iraq and discovering they were inhabited by a mouse. He said that was a rather unpleasant surprise. I dozed off again and this time woke to the mouse landing on my head. It froze and I started to reach for my flashlight when it jumped off and onto the bed. It ran around a bit and I went back to sleep as far under the covers as i could since the mouse was still scurying around on the bed. Good times. I woke up again at 715, quickly got ready and then AMC and I went to pull down traps. Jose had already taken the one near the light sheet down so we set off for the far ones. We pulled pan traps first- which were pretty empty then moved onto the farthest malaise trap. It too was pretty empty. I think between the rain and how cold it had been up there over the last couple days stuff just wasn’t flying. We walked back to the middle trap to discover jose had finished taking down the light trap and so moved onto the malaise. We got there just as he finished up so the 3 of us walked back to the hotel. He went to tell the owner we wanted breakfast while AMC and I packed up the traps and she brought down our luggage. Breakfast was ready at 840 or so and we all ate along with the random Canadian who was staying at the hotel also and had hung out at the lights with us the night before. Jose went to get me a citrus punch juice deal and remembering my struggle with it yesterday that finally culminated with me using my leatherman pliers to open the juice opened the top for me. I then managed to almost pour it all over the table since it didn’t fit all into the glass at one time (I almost did it yesterday also). JRJ showed up and ordered one also and joses like lets see if he screws it up also. So we all watched him open it with no problem and pour it without almost spilling. Im like guess they teach you that during your masters. JRJ had no clue what we were talking about and didn’t seem really happy about it. AMCs like were having fun at TACs expense not his and then jose explained what we were watching for. JRJ though we were crazy. After breakfast we loaded up the truck and waited for jrj and dave to finish packing. As usual the guys were holding up progress. We finally got on the road around 10 I guess after watching amc and then jrj try and shake this huge tree that was full of chryosmelids. After that was unsuccessful jrj started throwing sticks up until one came straight down and hit joses truck. Luckily it was mostly rotten so pretty much exploded on impact. I slept a little on the drive down then just looked out the window. Noone was really talking much and jose had the music down pretty low. We stopped at a stream for a little bit of collecting. I got a myrmilion sweeping a low bush along with a bunch of eveniids. There were 2 streams and then a mud track to one side and I just went up and down the grass along the track. Jose found some huge flowers- the largest in the new world and pulled them off the bush to show me. They smell pretty bad and attract a lot of flies. They are sorta s shaped so we broke open the lower s part to see what was trapped in there. Only culicids, although shortly after a calliphorid landed on one but flew off before I could grab it these flowers were close to a foot long and he said they were pretty small compared to the ones that grow in the wet forest. Next stop was a gas station to get dave a pepsi. He hadn’t had one in 24 hrs and was starting to get sick. I got some m&ms. As usual we were waiting on jrj to get his act together and AMC decided we should name the trip Donde estas Josh? Dave and Jose liked the idea and daves like we should make shirts – Guatemala 2007 with the slogan on them. JRJ showed back up and joses like we voted while you were gone and have named the trip Donde estas Josh? JRJ though that was rather amusing but I don’t think he realized how true it was. Jose got a diet coke and jrj made a comment about someone else drinking coke (since everyone else was pepsi drinkers or non caffeine drinkers) and joses like who else drinks cokes. I normally get them but didn’t get anything to drink this stop so jrjs like therese drinks them. And I made a comment to AMC about me and jose just being drinking buddies between the coke and the beer. We decided to make one more stop to collect on a stream in a very dry area. We turned off the main road and drove for 20 min or so trying to get access to this stream. Jose passed the bridge we were suppose to cross and there wasn’t a spot to turn around for quite a ways down the road so we got to see a bit more country than planned. This area was super dry- looked like it would be a good place to light trap since it was fairly open. We finally made it to the stream and started sweeping. I got some cool bugs including leafhoppers, a cool ode with pink wings, and some leps. While we were waiting on jrj as is tradition jose and I were talking about trucks. I want to put cargo tie downs on mine like hes got ang a cage thatll go over the luggage and can be locked so I don’t have to worry about it while im going on trips. He was telling me about a collector thas modified his 250 to basicly live in and has driven allthe way to argentina in it. That sounds like a good time. Jose wants to get a rack that goes over the cab to put nets and that sort of thing on. Once everyone was gathered we loaded up and drove to the next town and found a pharmacy to buy alchohl since dave needed a little more. While we were there we parked under a tree that was raining flowers. There was a guy standing there trying to sweep them up but they were falling faster than he could sweep. It was rather amusing. Then we drove to Guatemala city. Theyre doing construction to widen the road to 2 lanes in each direction for the stretch coming into the city. In the city we wove around for quite a while before finally making it to jacks. His house is the last on the street (it bascily dead ends into his gate) and he had 4 black labs that ran up to the gate. Jose got out to find the key to let us in and the house boy showed up and opened the gate and watched the dogs while we drove in. AMC and I got the room with bunkbeds since we figured we didnt mind living together for a month whats one more day while dave and jrj each have their own room. We unloaded all our gear and got it to the rooms. Then the 5 of us stood around talking. The dogs showed up with rocks in their mouths and jose got one and threw it. They all took off and after 5 min or so brough back the same rock- impressive since jose threw it down a pretty steep slope and they had to run in the opposite direction first before making it to the slope. We played with the dogs for a while then jose said hed come get us for lunch tomorrow from the university. The 4 of use kept playing with the dogs then went all looked at everyones room. After a while me and AMC decided to hang our traps up to dry so went back upstairs. Me and AMC then went to explore the property and all the dogs followed. Amcs taked to calling them fatso, number 2 (the other fat one), big one, and the other one. We kept throwing rocks and made our way down to the stream that was along the boarder. We then turned up and headed along the fence back to the top. AMC was making all the descisions since I like watching her make them and we ended up along the road we drove in on past the house. So she followed the fence which was a spot about 6 in wide. So there were me, her, and the 4 dogs all in a line. We made it back without falling (good since it was a 6-10 ft fall) and then threw rocks for the dogs somemore. Amc was worried about hitting jrj with the rocks but I figured the chances of that were sufficiently small to deal with. Jrj eventually appeared and then amc and I went back to our room. I took a shower then played on the computer wheil amc took one. After a while jack showed up apparently hed though jose was taking us to the university and he had only just gotten a hold of jose to find out that we were already heare. We ordered a pizza by the meter (we got .5 m) and jack cooked up some fishsticks. The pizza arrived and we ate it while listening to the Dixie chicks. We talked bugs a bit- hes got someone whose interested in cicadellids also then we got the house tour. Hes got a secret room behind his bookshelf that you can also get to from behind the bathroom mirror. Sometimes hell tell kinds the bathroom is haunted and go in flush the toilet then dissapere behind the mirror. The house is built totally for jack whos about 6 ft 4. the mirrors are up so high I couldn’t see myself in the one above the sink. He also has a study, another bedroom a music room (hes in the most popular rockband in Guatemala) and his working area. After the tour I went and got my bugs and started processing them. Jrj and dave went to bed and amc talked ichs with jack. Eventually amc came into the kitchen where I was working and we talked about the trip. We want to come down again and were calculating how much it would be to drive form tx to here. I need to find out when joses free months are and see what we can work out. Jack showed up and said he was going to bed and that there was cereal for the morning. As he left hes like you drink beer? Amc are like yup and he said there was some in the fridge from the last visitor and he doesn’t drink so help ourselves. Amc and I are the bad ones on this trip for sure since the other 2 don’t drink or anything. Amc went up to harass jrj while I finished up then we went and pulled our stuff down since it was starting to rain then we went to bed.

08 January 2007

Guatemala day 6

The alarm went of at 2 then again at 215 at which point we got up and went out to the sheet. It was pretty cold and there were just some leps most of them were dead on the bottom a bit strange but I guess we killed that many when we were playing around at the sheet hitting bugs. So it was back to bed until the alarm went off again at 715 or so. I looked at AMC and went back to sleep since we weren’t eating breakfast until about 8. She got up to take a shower in the not warm water. I drifted back to sleep and was dreaming that I ran into Emily mount down here and was talking about the reunion when I heard Teresa, Teresa. Im like why is Emily calling me Teresa and she sounds strangely masculine. Then I heard it again and realized it want my dream but actually jose knocking on the door. I guess he heard the shower ands like you in the bath? Im like no that Aubrey hes like theres a Quetzal. That woke me up in a heart beat and I was out of bed with my shoes on before he finished saying that it was out in the front. I grabbed my camera and ran out the door. Jose was already back out front with the german dude. Jose lined me up with the bird and then it flew out and I got a glimpse of it. There was a male and female feeding pretty high up. The female had a red breast and the male was lacking the long tail. We watched them fly around and I took a picture that might have a quetzal dot in it. They flew off after a bit and I went back to get ready for the day. AMC wasn’t quite done showering so I laid back down. She came out and I must have looked funny cause shes like you ok? And I said yeah I just saw a quetzal. She though that was pretty cool. I got ready then we went down for breakfast. The guys were no where to be seen and AMC and I decided to order eggs. AMC remembered the word for breakfast but put me in charge since it worked out ok yesterday, but I walked in and jose was in there so we were spared ordering. I got scrambled eggs. AMC, Jose, and I ate together while the german dude was at the table next to us. The guys were still nowhere to be seen so we decided to go put out the dead fish and some pan traps while jose ran into town. AMC and I were walking to the room when we ran into david and jrj. We told them the plan and gathered our stuff from the room. Then we had to figure out how to pull the fish out of the tree where jose and hung it to keep the ring tailed cats from getting it. AMC said to cut the string so I did. Then she tried pulling it out of the tree and after a few good tugs it came down. Dave and I both thought she should have let go and launched it across the forest. We decided to put the pan traps near the trap with the fish, down the trail from the rooms. The fish went up pretty easy, just ran the kite string through a gill like a stringer. Put down 29 pan traps, but its so cold well see if they get anything. We then set up a 3rd malaise trap farther down the trail. We made it back about the same time jose did and got ready for a day of collecting in the oak forest. There were a couple more quetzals flying around inlcuidng a male with a long tail. They get to be about a meter long at the end of the molt. There was a bit of an alcohol issue since jrj was using a bunch and needed more but couldn’t find anymore. We had a bit in our room so we went to get it and managed to lock the key in the room. O well its still guys 2 girls 1 on that count. The 3 of us plus jrj took off down the road and stopped about 20-30 min down the road at a spot with a ton of flowers in bloom. The collecting was really good and I got a bunch of new bugs. We then went down to the river at monkey tail (don’t remember what it is in Spanish) and collected some more. Got some more new ones including a tridactylid and a hydrometrid. Very exciting. By now it was getting late so we headed back for home. It started to rain part of the way, and we picked up a guy walking so we didn’t stop anywhere else to collect. We dropped the guy off where the dirt met the pavement then we drove to the gas station. I put the backpacks in the cab to minimize the water issues. On the way back to the reserve jose stopped to call and remind jack schuster we were coming. AMC and I went back to our room and then I went back to the main house to grab my spam. I took some bugs to work on and ate with jose. AMC came over as we were finishing up talking about collecting- I told him about the dominica mess since he really wants to go there and told him id try and get elvis’s contact info. He wants some Hercules beetles from the island. After a bit he decided to go to town and I worked on my bugs trying to get them ready for the trip back. I think were going to carry everything on so as not to worry about it getting lost or mangled. It started getting even colder and AMC and I headed back to the room. I messed around on the computer and she made fun of my map book until jose knocked to see if we wanted dinner at 630 with everyone else. It sounded good to us although we were still eating the tortillias wed stold from his lunch. I ordered a steak. 630 we headed down in the rain and sat down. The food wasn’t quite ready and we sat around talking. I asked jose if he wanted a beer then went and got the 2 of us beer. The food came out and we ate. Jose gave us or export permits- we each have our own for 500 bugs of our group. Very nice. I added it to my permit stack and called it good. After dinner jose and I talked raidos since hes wanting hts for his workers to use. Checked the light then he and I went to pull the fish off the trap. I also got some lep envelopes. On the way back I managed to totally crash and burn on one of the steps, it was rather amusing im sure. After that we just checked lights there were quite a few good bugs out even with the rain and jrj and jose took pictures. Jose was playing with jrjs camera making jrj walk around and pose trying to get a picture of the reddish light bouncing off the ferns far back and jrj in the forground. It was rather amusing.

07 January 2007

Even more pictures

Picture going up the hill to the village













The road














Now this is an A+ set up- all pannels taut, nice placement- flyway with brush around













House near the river we collected at the day we headed north and almost got to Mexico












More Guatamala pictures

Here is AMC pulling bugs out of her net. This was taken moments before I caught the blue morpho.












This is a cool catipillar we found















This is the village in the river blindness endemic area.












Here are a couple pictures of the kids up in the village everyone wanted their pictures taken so we spent a good 15 min doing so.

Pictures from Guatemala

This is the hotel we stayed at the first night. It was in downtown Guatemala City, right next to the American Embasy. It had a bunch of random statutes in front of it. The best part was that it had wireless internet and TV.









This is the view driving down the street in Antiqua.













This is the second place we stopped to collect at on our trip. There were a ton of leafhoppers in this small patch of grass. The mountian in the background is a volcano that erupted periodically.









This was the first Malaise Trap that AMC and I put up. Note the use of leaves and vines to get it possitioned correctly. The trap wasn't quite an A+ but I figure we made up for it in creativity.
















The Computer store in one of the towns we drove through. You could tell what brands and products were sold inside a store by looking at what logos were painted on the walls such as Cannon, Intel, and HP in this case

Guatemala Day 5

The alarm went off at 2 and I promptly went back to sleep. I woke up around 630 and AMC looked over and asked what time it was. I told her and said the alarm would go off at 730, she said she needed to get up a bit earlier so I pushed it forward a few min and went back to sleep. We woke back up an hour later and got ready. Then we grabbed stuff for 2 malaise traps and headed off towards the top light sheet on the hill. I wanted to put one kinda near that in hopes of drawing in more bugs at they were heading towards the light. We decided to try the worrlpack idea but when we got up there AMC realized that the 1st trap didn’t have a bottle so we couldn’t use that to support the bag. I had a rubber band in my pocket so we used that to tie up the pack. I knew there was some reason to leave it in my pocket last night. We got the trap up without any issues and were on the move again in about 10 min. AMC wanted to head down the trail past the other light sheet so we took of in that direction. I found a small clearing and started working on it to see if it would work for a malaise trap while AMC headed up the trail to see if anything jumped out that required less habitat modification. She came back just as I was sawing down a tree with my knife are reported that there was a possible spot further up just as the trail started descending again. So we headed up to it and after a bit of moving stuff around we got the trap up. When we went to put the worrl pack on I realized that it wasn’t wide enough to go around the bottle so we could screw the bottle back onto the head. Since we didn’t have another rubber band we just decided to set it up the traditional way. We finished up shortly after 830 and we headed over to the main building to see what the plan was. Dave said wed be leaving around 9 so AMC sat down with Jose and Dave who were finishing up breakfast. I went up to the room to get some stuff ready and discovered one of my leps from the nite before wasn’t dead. I asked jose if I could use his syringe and he said go for it so I grabbed it and killed my lep. By now JRJ was almost ready to go so we loaded up and headed down the road to our 1st site. It was a short drive of about 30 min. We passed tons of people walking along the road apparently going to church. One girl was dressed in her 1st communion dress. All the people were pretty nicely dressed- men in starched jeans and button down shirts with clean cowboy hats and the women in nice pants or dresses.

Our 1st site was a small river flowing under the highway. There were quite a few leafhoppers here including quite a few id never collected. Our next site was similar as was the 3rd site. One thing that was really cool was that at the 2nd site there was a huge swarming group of Cicadellinae. The red and white ones- they were everywhere. I collected a huge series of them including some probable nymphs of the species and also the food plant they were feeding on. Maybe it could make a small paper. We then headed down the road a piece and passed through some small towns. We stopped in one and got some pepsi for dave and jose bought us all lime chips. I also got a coke. The chips were pretty tasty. Just the right amount of tangy lime and salt. We kept going and stopped in at a river under the highway. This site was pretty trashy looking but I got quite a number of bugs including some Tingids. I was all proud of my 2 tingids until AMC reached up while we were driving down the road and grabbed one off the ceiling in the truck. O well. It was nice while it lasted. We got to a larger city and I remined Jose we needed a fish for the malaise trap. He drove though the town looking for the open market then asked for a booth selling fish. He got some directions but we couldn’t find it. Saw a place selling raw chicken and live bunnies. Jose said we could always get a bunny. Dave said predead was better, but AMC and I are like live bunnies are fine. Jose found a parking spot and said hed be back with a fish in a min. Sure enough he showed back up with a small fish in a bag. We took off again down a dirt road that headed back to the reserve. Apparently it was the original highway. Jose wasn’t totally sure which fork to take so we stopped and asked some girls who didn’t know so he asked a guy on a horse with a dog. We got some directions after explaining what finca it was by since he didn’t know road names. We headed back down the road into some very different habitat. This area is in the rain shadow from the mountains the reserve is in. It was very dry with cactus, suclients, and small bushes. The whole area was also very flat. We came upto some cropland and Jose pointed out a tree that was part white and part brown. He said he thought some sort of homoptera did it but he wasn’t sure which. He said we could check it out if anyone was interested, so he stopped and got permission to check it out. We walked out there across this huge bone dry field that looked like it had been used to grow corn but had been plowed up. We got to this huge tree (related to an acacia) and jose jumped up and grabbed a branch. Sure enough it was wax that covered the branches. We couldn’t find any evidence of what type of bug it was though until Jose spotted a Flatid wing in a crevase in the bark. He proceded to tear out some chunks uncovering quite a few flatid wings. They were huge- 2 in long or so and white with dark spots. We poked around for a few more min before deciding there were no whole bugs. We all walked back to the truck and drove a bit further until we got to a small stream. There were some kids playing in it and dave gave them a bag of m&ms. We swept the area pretty good and I got some additional leafhoppers. This trip has been very productive for me as far as hoppers go. We drove down the road and started gaining altitude. We passed some long dead cows and some really cool scenery. Our last stop was a small stream up in the mountains. It was in a very dry area and there were some really cool bugs including some lavender cicadellids. On the way back to the reserve we passed through the oak forest were we will go tomorrow and an abandoned farm. Apaprently the farm managers had been aiding the army and some guerrillas came in and killed them then burnt the buildings during the revolution. The revolution sounds pretty terrible- the army rounded up a bunch of men in one of the towns near hear put them all in the churches then burnt them down. Back at the truck AMC and I collected some rocks for our geology buddies. On the way back to to reserve joses said dinner was chicken or steak if we wanted it. He was eating that and having a beer. This set off a drinking discussion and he asked dave if he drank. Apparently he only has a beer or 2 a year- basicly after getting a tattoo. That’s a little back wards. The he asked jrj who also said he didn’t drink. Jose must think tx people are strange- the women drink, are on time, and ride in the bed of the truck while the men are pretty much worthless. We got back to the reserve and Dave and JRJ promptly discover they locked the room key in the room. Shocking. We got back to our room and unloaded. Dave came by to say he was eating dinner at the main house so me and AMC went over there after checking the light. We went in and the woman said something in Spanish. We caught sit down and that was it. So we went outside and sat. after a while AMC went back to the room for a bit while I waited to see how this was going to work. Jose came down after a bit looked at me and said is there a communication issue? Im like yeah pretty much. Hes like what do you want? I said both me and AMC want steak and the best I could come up with was carne de vaca. He said that would have worked or just carne was fine too. And I got beef right even though AMC though I was making it up. Guess I do remember something from Spanish class. So he ordered it up then some random dude showed up ands like can you understand it? Im like not really but jose can translate if you need it. So jose ordered the random guy (who was from germany) dinner too. We stood around in the shop then Jose got him and me beers. The german guy didn’t want one. AMC showed back up and I told her id been right about how to say beef. I still don’t think she belives me. O well. Dinner was ready pretty quickly and she went off to get dave. I went inside and grabbed her an orange coke. The little girls like narania I said si then she said orange and I said si again. Then the woman appeared and im like por my hermana and she said si. I went out and put the coke at AMCs spot then when she appeared told her about the exchange. She was like hermana means sister. Id forgotten that but o well it convayed the meaning of this if for the other girl. That’s all that matters. We all ate- it was quite good. Steak, beans, rice, plantain, and some cheese. We ate with the german dude who was pretty fascinated with the whole insect collecting thing. I never though so many people would find it so interesting- comparing us to national geographic and all. After we were done eating we called JRJ to eat the scraps which he did. Daves like you feel like the family pet and he said yeah so im like at least we don’t make you do tricks for it and everyone but him got a good laugh. Hes going to try fogging again. Well see how that goes- its become the running joke of the trip really. After dinner we went over to the sheets with the german and he took some pictures. On the way over jose took the bag o fish and tied it to some kite string then threw it over a tree limb in hopes that the ringtailed cats etc would leave it alone. He asked for a knife and both me and jrj said we had one. We both grabbed for them (I went for the assist opening one). Unsuprisingly I won- I had mine open and in joses hand before jrj had even gotten his out of his pocket. I love the way it springs open when flicked. Jrj made some comment about how I carry around 3 and so it shouldn't be suprising and im like I have 4 don’t short change me a knife. He didn’t seem to understand the beauty of the knife and made some comment about people from texas. Whatever. I went up to grab the head lamps then back downstairs. My hopper catchers starting to break along the joint and I asked jose if he had any epoxy. He didn’t have any of that but he did have some strong electrical tape so we fixed it right up with that. Then the 3 of us went to check the malaise traps. Neither of them had very much but there was some stuff. We checked the other light and he gave me a Chrisina he caught and I also got a click beetle. It was raining a bit by now and then the fog rolled in. It was amazing how fast it came up. Jose went to bed and AMC and I went and checked the other sheet. I killed a couple of leps using the ammonia syringe then we called it a night also. I worked on my notes then typed this up while listening to music- it's become my tradition to listen to Bowling for Soups "Come Back to Texas" each night as I'm getting ready for bed. I love it down here, but nothing beats home. At 1120 AMC woke up and said she was having a bad dream where shes collecting on a cliff and got the label data wrong. Then she caught a silver beetle and though it was the coolest thing before waking up and realizing she was dreaming. I too dream of collecting while im collecting but mine have more to deal with bugs I really want (that actually exist) or ones ive already caught. Most of this trip its been dreams of catching leafhoppers in huge malaise traps that run for miles. Wish we actually had traps like that. Cammacks been in all my dreams usually as the other person on the trip. I keep wishing we could swap him out for JRJ. Life would be so much more fun. Jose made a comment about the 3 of us terrestrial people being collecting buddies and im like no our real 3rd member is back in tx then told him about the musketeers and the ets. The musketeers are the 1st time ive truly been part of a group where we all talk and hang out all the time. Now the 1st of the musketeers is in the real world and while the other 2 of us wont be joining if for a long time (really if ever) our time in the same school is rapidly ending. I really hope jac, me and tff (as AMC is known to JAC) take a trip down to this area. Itd be so much fun.

06 January 2007

Guatemala Day 4

AMC and I were up by 615. I packed and got ready then the 2 of us rolled malaise traps. I showed her how to roll them the way i do since Wharton isn’t a competent malaise trap packer. We had everything ready and packed by 7 when we were suppose to leave. Jose told us to go sign the guest book so the 2 of us went over and did so. We got back to the truck as JRJ showed up and started loading his stuff. We were on the road by 720. None of us were particularly hungry so we didn’t stop for anything. Eventually we stopped for gas in a town and while jose got gas we went over and grabbed some food. Aubrey and I got gummy bears, pork skins, and juice. I also got a small block of cheddar cheese. The juice was bitter and gritty tasting but it was cold so that was exciting AMC claims you can buy it in the states, but I've never seen this brand. I then fell asleep for a while as I tend to do these days on car trips. Our 1st stop was at about 1030 at a bridge over a stream. The bridge was very small and getting down to the water was kinda tricky so I stayed up on top and swept in the trees and grass. I got some cool membracids and a few new leafhoppers though. We only stopped for 20 min or so then back to the truck. Driving down the road we spotted a cop truck parked. All the cops here drive trucks. They signaled for us to stop and they looked at joses license and registration before allowing us to pass. Apparently that’s illeagal but the do it anyway and as jose puts it wastes everyones time. Dave said when he was down here 5 years ago theyed gotten pulled over by the military complete with guns. Jose said the military and police often work together to do that since the military cant pull people over by themselves. They search for drugs this way. By now Dave was needing a pepsi (I think hes addicted to them) so we found a good size town and looked for a pepsi sign. We finally found one and parked the truck. He got out and started heading for the bakery back down the street. We all followed and I kept tripping on the sidewalk. It was pretty sad. The bakery didn’t have much so me, AMC, and Jose headed back towards the truck. Jose pointed out the piñata shop and said I should get one since id told them about my 8year old birthday piñata experience. We stopped at a coke store and I got a can of coke for 3.5 Q I was very proud of the fact I knew what the cashier told me the total was. JRJ and David caught up with us and we loaded back up and took off. David handed out sweet bread so I ate a piece of that. We stopped a piece down the road at a bridge over a river near the town of San Antonio. The river was pretty wide and people were bathing and doing laundry. AMC and JRJ took off across the river while I worked the banks on the side we parked on. There was a small pond parallel to the river with some trees growing along it so I hit that pretty hard. I got a Chalcid one of the yellow ones with expanded hind femora it was quite exciting. There were also some cool membracids and a leafhopper or 2. Back in the truck where we made JRJ sit in the middle. The plan had been not to stop anymore and we drove on for quite a while. We went through the dry part of the country which was quite hilly. We then started climbing back up into the mountains and came across some small streams that went under the road. After passing the 1st one dave got all excited and said we should stop at the next one we saw. We drove for awhile before jose spotted one as we drove past. He turned the truck around and dropped dave off. The rest of us kept going until there was a spot to turn around at. We went back to the site and I swept a bit. We were only there 10 min or so before continuing on. At one point we went through a town and got stuck in a funeral procession. There was a truck full of flowers leading it followed by the casket carried by some pallbearers. One of them had recently had his right hand amputated and was carrying the casket on his bandaged stump. It looked rather painful. Following the body was a large group of mourners then lastly the band composed of a few trumpets.

We arrived at the Quetzal reserve at about 450 and got checked in. AMC and I are in room 2. We couldn’t figure out how to get the door open and decided apparently 2 BS weren’t enough you needed an MS. JRJ was able to get it open so this confirmed out theory. However he promptly locked his keys in his room so guess a MS means you can open the door once but then your screwed. We started packaging our malaise traps samples into worrle packs. The 1st trap with only 12 bugs we just hand packed and saved the alcohol for rinsing with. The next traps all had a lot of bugs in them is we just poured as much as we could into a woorlpack then decanted the alcohol off the top through the fishnet then into the grass. We continued packing up samples until Jose came up and said he was going to town to check his mail. He asked if we wanted to go and I said the only reason I could think of was to get beer. He got all excited and said lets go. So me and AMC finished up what we were doing and headed down to the truck. Jose had 3 beers (Gallo) and we climbed in the truck and took off down the mountain. I love no open container laws its like driving around on the ranch. We got down to town and went to the internet café. Jose got us each a computer and I dealt with my e-mail while drinking my beer. Gallo is definatly an experience. Its not the worst beer I've had but its also not exactly the best. We were down there for probably 30 min or so before heading back up to the reserve. We pulled up and turned in our bottles. David and JRJ were collecting at the bottom light and some people were watching them. We went to check it out and AMC reached for a beetle which apparently JRJ was taking a picture of. He freaked out and the 2 of us decided to grab our dinner (spam, crackers, and peanut butter) and go to the other sheet further up the hill to eat. We collected a bit then sat down to feed. After eating we went back to check out the other light. I put the left over spam in the fridge. There was an American couple watching David and JRJ. They’re from Washington and took 6 months off to explore Central America. Apparently they saw us drive up and unload and the guys like I know what they are ive seen similar stuff on the discovery channel and after we had everything running came to check it out. We heard ring tailed cats which brought up pumas. Apparently they’re all over the reserve but are rarely seen. They also have ocelots and jacarundies. Jose spotted a rare lep and caught it. He was holding onto it walking towards his box and I asked if he ever killed them by injecting alochol straight into the body. Just as I said this he pulled out a syringe and shot the lep up with clear liquid which turned out to be ammonia. Apparently this works better since you need less than a drop to kill your bug instantly. Between that and the snake last night AMC and I decided Jose is the master at perfect timing. We went back to the top sheet and I caught a large weevil. AMC called it a night for now at about 915 and we went back to our room after checking the bottom sheet. I decided to take a shower which was quite an adventure since the hot water heater was on the showerhead. I couldn’t get the water hot at all. AMC asked me how cold it was when I got done and I told her at no point did I think I was going to freeze to death but it defiantly wasn’t even remotely warm. She though this was funny and kept saying at no point did I think I was going to freeze to death. Todays major amusement was the total role reversal between the sexes on this trip. Who are we always waiting on? JRJ. Who rides in the back of the truck? AMC and I. Whos like lets get some beer? TAC and AMC. So apparently its us girls who drink beer, eat spam, and ride in the truck bed. Figures. Yeah were living the good life the guys just don’t know what theyre missing.

05 January 2007

Guatemala Day 3

We left the hotel a bit after 7am and drove northwest. We were heading up CA2 almost all the way to the Mexican boarder. I fell asleep pretty soon after leaving and didn’t wake up until we got to the town where we wre stoping for breakfast. We went to a chicken fastfood place but it was so packed in there we couldn’t find a place to sit so we went next door to burger king. I ordered bacon and orange juice in spansih with minimal help, not bad. It cost 10.25Q, so not even 2 bucks. Not bad. We ate and AMC decided she wanted a BK crown so JRJ got her one which she wore outside. On TV GWB was appointing a new head of the CIA or something, guess well find out what happened when we get back to the states. Next stop was the grocery store which strangely enough was inside a mall. On the way in we passed at least 6 different shoe stores including payless. This store was quite a bit larger and actually had a lot of food. I got peanut butter (jif), a can of spam, 2 apple juice and 2 mango orange juices both kenrs. I also got a pigma pen like I was using in dominica. All for a total of 82Q. We walked back to the truck when JRJ decided he needed to go to the restroom. So as usual we were standing around waiting on JRJ to get his act together. We headed off back down the road then stopped for gas at Esso aka Exxon, complete with a tigermart. It was a full service gas station so the attendant came out pumped our gas, cleaned the windows etc. It was my 1st experience with that since even in dominica you had to pump your own gas which was quite amusing to watch since neither JBW or Lacher could figure out how to open up the gas tank- how many phds does it take to pump gas? Then it was back on the road. I fell asleep again and woke up as we were coming up to our 1st collecting spot. It was a bridge off the highway over a large fast flowing river. The area was sandy but had a lot of trash. We jumped out and I started sweeping. Got some cool things considering how disturbed it was including some Flattids, cool looking membracids, and some new cicadellids. I chased down an ascilid also. Dave and jose found some ant lion pits and sifted out a few 3rd instars. We were all waiting on JRJ as usual who was off who knows where. Dave suggested we but a leash on him and take turns being the josh keeper. Back on the road we pulled off at a second bridge. This one was near a town and a bunch of people were bathing and doing laundry. The area was very disturbed but Dave got some good mayflies. I went and swept alittle but didn’t get anything of interest and only a couple leafhoppers at that. It was totally reminiscent of the little brazos as far as appearance, diversity, and set up. Strange. So AMC and I sat on the tailgate and drank juice (me) and boxochoclate milk (AMC) and talked about collecting methods. After a while everyone else was ready to go so we loaded back up into the truck and drove north. We went through a goodsize town looking for a place to buy pesticides for JRJs fogger. We couldn’t see anything (we were looking for buildings with syngenta or bayer logos) and jose figured itd be further down so we kept driving. The streets were packed with trycilce jeep deals called toktoks or something like that since that’s the brand. We eventually made it most of the way down the road with no luck. Jose stopped and asked someone walking down the street and he said it was just a few building down. Of course they were closed. So we asked someone else who pointed us to a pet shop so that was a no go. We kept heading out of town and found a place to collect near this huge fast river. We parked in someones dirt garden and climbed out. The dog on the roof of the house started barking at us and jose yelled something at the woman who appeared. Apparently we got permission and we started collecting. This site was really good for hoppers. Some cool looking membracids and a couple species of leafhopper I hadn’t collected yet. I also caught a green lacewing. After 30 min or so dave said we needed to get going so we all climbed back up to the truck. JRJ was of course nowhere to be seen so we got all our stuff loaded up and then he appeared saying hed found somemore pits and he needed a shovel. So he took AMCs trowel and went to dig some up. After a while he said he had enough and we headed back down the hill. There were tons of kids running around I think school had just gotten out. We got back on the main road and started going south a different way then we came. We went over a road that had gotten totally destroyed by a hurricane. It got washed out and the water must have been 10-20ft deep. It moved around some huge rocks also. Very impressive. We made it back to the road wed came in on and after a bit went through a town with a circus tent. As we drove past Jose spotted a chemical store and circled back around to check it out. It was mainly a feed store and as david pointed out contained pictures of happy dogs, cats, sheep, and chickens along with a pissed off looking cow. Jose and JRJ got out and bought the pesticide to try in the fogger. Sortly after that we stopped at a shell station to buy some snacks. I got AMC and I some peanut M&Ms. JRJ got some sugar covered peanuts then tried to explain them by saying the were like what you eat at Christmas which made all the rest of us deiced he was crazy. Then it was back in the truck where conversation rapidly degraded into making fun of josh for trying to tell us fables. AMCs like your boring and im not listening anymore. Dave started telling stories of things hed seen in the philipeans. We made it back to the hotel after dark- thered been a ton of traffic and some accidents along the way which made the going really slow. It also started raining toward the end and we had to get out and move our stuff into the cab. We got back to the hotel and honked to get let into the compound. There wasn’t a guard within hearing distance apparently so jose got out and got one to let us in. We stopped to see if the office was still open and luckily it was. We paid 82 US for 3 nites plus 3 meals. Not cheep but not too bad. I used up all my extra money on that so hopefully I can find someplace to get more money. Turns out they have internet in the office so I ran back to the room and got stuff ready to go pull traps and then went back to use the internet. Eventually it was my turn and I e-mailed grandpa, mom, and JAC. I told JAC about my morpho but not about the cool ant mimics since AMC and I decided to suprise him with those.Once we were done with the net AMC and I went back to the rooms and found jose to go pick up our traps. We told JRJ wed pick up his trap also. We had a good time driving up there talking about the differences in collecting styles. That’s been a big issue me and AMC like lots of stops short duration while JRJ and dave prefer staying in one spot for an extended period. This caused some headbutting for planning tomorrow since we could either go south and hit some new places or head east and go the the reserve right away. I really wanted to go south as did jose and AMC. JRJ never really said which he wanted and dave didn’t want to go south. We eventually decided to head south but make only 2 stops and try to get to the reserve by 3. Jose got the 1st 2 malasie traps along with JRJs fogging sheet which shockingly enough had virtually no bugs while AMC and I picked up pan traps. We got somemore ant mimic membracids and a good number of cicadellids. I think we left a couple traps out though since when it was all said and done I only counted 26 eventhough I though id put out 30. o well. It was rather amusing since AMC was just telling me she hated snakes after hearing a rustling noise she though was either a snake or a puma when jose showed up with a small snake. It was brown and grey with a faint pattern. Lookeds similar to a garder snake in body shape. AMC was rather amused. Back at the truck we were talking about how annoying the jars were to deal with and Jose said he uses woorl packs straight on the head. This makes a ton of sence and I think were going to give this a try. Next stop was the malaise trap set across the path by a stream a bit further up the road. This trap had a ton of bugs and was much easier to take down than putting it up had been, or maybe since I couldn’t see the fact I was hanging over the edge of the embankment I didn’t think about falling down into the stream. We then went all the way up to the top turned around and collected the one in the bamboo patch. It also had a pretty good sample for only being out 24 hrs or so. The final trap was the one set up along the embankment. There were only a couple bugs in this trap it was kinda an experimental placement and guess it needs some modification. We loaded everything into the truck and drove down to the rooms. The traps were a bit damp so the 3 of us hung them up on the porch to dry out. Jose went to bed and AMC and I ate dinner of tuna, crackers, and peanut butter. I also had a can of mango apple juice. We turned on some country and had a grand old time singing and feeding as Aubrey called dinner. Then it was time for bed.

Its interesting the differences between here and dominca. Dominica seems much poorer in many ways. Most of the houses there were really run down while these while not the suburbs or anything weren’t in horrible shape. Something that struck me in dominica was that when you were in Roseau there were people everywhere just sitting around not doing any actual work no matter what day or time it was. Here people seem poor but are all working. They are fairly well dressed in the towns and everyone has some form of shoes. Out in the country the workers are all wearing pretty dirty clothes but you go by the houses and everyone has wash hung up. Also the dogs are radically different . Dominica had few dogs and most of those were quite skinny and didn’t look too good coat wise. There are tons of dogs running around but most of them look to be in ok shape. Theyre not fat but theyre not skin and bones either in most cases. Ive only seen a couple mangy dogs also. Many are even identifiable breeds especially rotties and German Shepards. The roads are also in much better shape as are the cars. Most people here have trucks or suvs and many of them are in pretty good shape- still shiny and newish. A lot of them are diesel which is very cheap (18-19Q) vs regular gas (22-23Q). Ive learned a ton on this trip. Dominica was so easy as far as gear since as quartermaster of the expedition I could just assign people to bring any gear I wanted but couldn’t fit. This time I had 2 bags and that was all I had to deal with. Im learning what I actually need for how I collect which ive discovered is about the same stuff as I thought (exciting) but that as far a malaise traps go there are some spacesaving possibilities such as not using jars. AMC agreed that this was a great learning experience. I think it’s the only way to learn since collecting back in the states is a totally different ball game in many respects- you forget something you can find it at walmart. It also helps that I didn’t have woolley telling me everything to bring etc. I had to plan it out and figure out what I needed and what I could do without so I actually learned some.

04 January 2007

Guatemala Day 2

We woke up pretty late today compared to normal. Breakfast was at 8 so I got up about 745. We were suppose to check the sheets at 2 and 5, but when the alarm went off at 2 I closed my eyes and instantly fell back asleep until 4 where I woke up and realized wed missed our target time. So we reset the alarm for 5 at which point we decided it was too cold and bright so went back to sleep. At breakfast jose said we didn’t miss anything at the sheet the moon never really set. O well, guess we made the right descion to get some descent sleep. Breakfast was pancakes (which david called waffles and so we told josh they were Guatemalan waffles and made him call them that for the rest of the meal), fruits, beans, and eggs. I had hot tea to drink. We decided to collect the highest area on the finca and then go back to where we set traps yesterday and work our way up the hill. We would then light trap up there and then come back for dinner at 8. Since we were going to be up their for so long jose suggested we not go up right away. That sounded good to everyone so we settled on 11 to head up. Aubrey and I organized out gear and I finished yesterdays report. Then we went out to the hammocks and I took a nap. I got bit up pretty bad by flies so I put on a flannel shirt and went back to sleep. Aubrey couldn’t take the flies anymore and got up and talked to josh who had just gotten back form taking some pictures. David and jose went to a stream and returned shortly before 11 saying there was absolutely nothing in the stream. We then loaded up and headed up the hill. AMC and I sat in the back this time and talked the whole way up about our plans for this semester. We both have decided we really need to learn Spanish and think the best way would be to make Carla and JBW talk to us every day so that way we can learn conversational spansih along with a more specific ento background. Well see if we can pull that off. Weve also decided that were going to try and stick to a daily schedule like Andy P. does, setting aside blocks of time to work on identifications, his bibliography, papers, etc. Well see how that goes. Part way up Jose stopped the truck and got out to point out a bird- a motmot- large and blue very cool. We saw a bunch of morphos on the way up too. Those leps are so cool. Then it was back to the road. A bit later we saw a falcon of some sort and JRJ got some pictures. AMC and I decided we really needed to take a group collecting trip of me, jac, amc, mika, eric, and frank or whichever of them wanted to come. Sort of a muskateer and et reuinion trip. I think it should be international- maybe panama since permits are manageable or even better austrilia. How cool would that be. I hope we do something like that. This trip has made me realize how much I miss having jac around. So often ive been like hed do this or hed really like this. Ive been trying to collect everything that t I think hed like and as strange as it sounds have been using his headlamp so atleast hes kinda here. Weird I know but ive really learned how much I depend on him. Even setting up the malaise traps I mean AMCs great and totally knows what to do, but JAC and I had it down to a science and could have a trap up in less than 10 min if we wanted to. I don’t know whats going to happen when he leaves for grad school, I might go crazy itd be like ½ of me is in Clemson. We got to the top of the road in about 50 min. There was a small village and we got out and looked around. There a bunch of black flies up there and they have river blindness so we totally soaked ourselves in DEET. There were some antlion pits but jrj didn’t have any luck with them. We headed down a trail into a canyon to the river and along the way met people walking back up to the river after washing clothes. One woman had all her laundry stuffed in a terracotta pot held to her back with a piece of cloth. There were also a bunch of kids running up and down including one with river blindness. You could look at him and the first thing you would notice what that his eyes looked wierd. We made it down to the place where theres a waterfall in the wet season and started collecting. Not a ton of leafhoppers but did get some new stuff. I also caught some leps including one with orange and purple wings. As AMC and I were getting ready to head up the trail a bit more I spotted a Morpho land way up on a rock. I climbed up as far as I could and jumped and netted the bug. It was sweet. I pinched it and put it in AMCs lep jar. JRJ had met one of the kids (actually the one with river blindness) and was talking to him about taking pictures and bugs. The boy followed us all up the trail. AMC and I stopped to sweep some veg and I caught a bunch of different leafhoppers I hadn’t gotten before. We then went further up and met back up with jose. JRJ had gone down with the boy to see where they wash clothes so the 3 of us started back up the trail. David was already up at the top and came back down to let us know all the kids wanted their pictures taken. Sure enough once we got to the top all the kids started yelling photo photo so we took a bunch of pictures. Once we were all loaded up we started back down and all the kids followed us trying to jump on the bumper. 4 of the older ones (a 12 yearold boy, the river blind kid, a young boy and girl) made it. The youngest boy hung off the truck dragging his feet while the rest perched on the bumper. The young girl jumped off after 5 min or so, followed by the young boy and river blind kid a couple min later. The 12 year old jumped off 15 min down the hill or so. After a bit we stopped and picked up a guy who was walking down the hill. He was better dressed than most of the people and had a pretty nice looking backpack. We dropped him off where the road we were on met the main road going down the mountain. We drove down to where the malaise traps were set and AMC and I checked everything. The 1st trap was very productive, the pan traps were collecting stuff including some ant mimic membracids. The 2nd trap however was really drooping and most of the alcohol was gone, so we tried to get it proped more upright in hopes of saving what alchol remained. We headed back up and ate our MREs- quite an adventure. Mine wasn’t bad they come with a small heater to warm the food, a snack (like peanut butter), a dessert, fruit drink mix, gum, and crackers. After we were done Jose, AMC and I headed up the hill to set the rest of the malaise traps. The 1st one we put across a path near a stream but quite a bit higher than it. We managed to find a spot where the trail was pretty high with an opening to the river the set up was a bit tricky since the trees we were tying into were overhangind the stream but we managed. Jose got the light sheet set up while we worked. We got done first so sat on a big rock in the stream until he got back. We then headed all the way up to where wed turned around the day before then worked our way back until we found another good set up. This one required some major habitat modification as I like to say and jose opened up a hole in the forest with his machete. Everyone down here carries them even the homeless people in town. Its kinda crazy. We got the trap set with joses help. It was a pretty nice looking trap with all sides out and taut. We kept driving down the mountain and found a place for the last trap. This one was along an embankment and we used sticks to tie onto on the grassy side. This trap also looked really good with all sides taut. When we were done we talked traps for a while- jose suggested using poles instead of rope since often its hard to find stuff to tie onto. I think im going to try this. He also suggested tying something dead onto the side to attrack calliphorids for JAC. I think were going to buy a dead fish for this purpose. JBWs going to freak out when I tell him what we tied onto his trap. Itll be great. We went back to the stream were jrj and david were. Jose stopped and caught some leps on the way down. He had envelopes so I stuck my morpho in one. We got back to the stream and he came and helped us fix the drooping trap. We wedged a stick under the head to keep it taut and refilled to head. Jose then started to look for some leps that had flown over while Aubrey and I went to look at the pan traps again. We found another membracid so now we have one for her and I along with JAC. I went and got somemore water and refilled the traps since they were getting kinda low. While doing this I heard a funny call and jose said it was a guan of some sort, then I heard the pitch change and moments later jose pointed at it flighing overhead- huge birds with stubby wings. It was totally black. It’s a pennelope. Then it was time to turn on the lights. JRJ was kinda upset we wernt collecting at that stream but I think the other one was much better as it was higher and more open. He tried fogging and caught a single psocid. There were apparently culicids flying in and out of the fog with no effect. We drove up and turned on the lights. There were some good bugs at the sheets including a bunch of new leafhoppers and my 1st flattid of the trip. At 730 we headed back down the hill for dinner. AMC and I were in the back of the truck again. She was commenting on the fact it was nice there were no huge predators like bears in guat. So I told her I though there were pumas which freaked her out a bit. Any noise after that was a puma coming to eat her and a squeaking noise became a puma whos tail wed runover and was now about to spring on us. It was defiantly funny. Supper was squash, chicken, and rice. As expected it was excellent. At dinner we heard all about the fogging and had a good laugh at jrjs expense then he told us all about mating in scorpean flies. After diner we tried fogging under the eves which worked a lot better so jose suggested some stronger pesticides. JRJ decided to try it out again along with a raid bomb tonight while amc and I light trapped with jose. David stayed back at the hotel. The collecting was great again. AMC swept some and then sifted through the veg at the light. She managed to catch an anole while she was at it. It jumped around between all of us before running away. We heard an owl also. When it was all said and done I filled a 15 cc vial about 2 inchs just of hoppers mostly cicadellids. I bet I got 30-40 sp today. I also got stung by a pomplid just before dinner. It flew into the light then flew off into the brush. I could still see it so asked AMC to get my net so I could catch it. I netted it on the 1st try and while transferring it totally got nailed on the finger. Since this was my 1st wasp sting (other than an ich last year) I was a bit concerned but didn’t seem to have much of a reaction. Jose gave me some benydrl cream and that brought the swelling down fast. We called it a night at about 1130 and we took everything down and headed down the road. JRJ decided to leave his fogging trap up and collect it bright and early before we leave at 7 for the Mexican boarder area. I’ve decided Id really like to some back here for longer and spend more time running more malaise traps and ypts. I love passive traps. I think im actually a closet hymenopterist since I like all their collecting methods.

03 January 2007

Collecting: Day 1

We started the day at 520 when I finally woke up. Packed up as quick as I could and then we headed out to the lobby. Jose was there waiting for us. He loaded up all our gear and we climbed into the truck. We drove to Antequa, a touristy town. Its kinda like santa fe with regs to keep it looking the same. The drive was uneventful, not many people on the road or anything probably cause it was so early. We got to antequa and drove around looking for a place to eat. Nothing local was open so we went to burgerking although from the outside it was totally different looking. We ordered our food with jose’s help (at least I knew how to say orange juice) and then ate. There were live plants in the bulidng kinda like a small rainforest and a huge flat screen very strange mix of things in this country. I ate my bacon and drank my juice and once everyone but slow eating josh was done we loaded back up and drove to our 1st site. Along the way david mentioned a place where the one mayfly is only known from so we went to check that out since it was on our way. We passed a bunch of volcaos including Agua and Fugo. They are both still active and Fugo periodically erupts but its not a very violent eruption. Also it apparently glows at night from the lava flowing down. We got too zataco and took some pictures and got a gps reading. Its an old farm that’s been in operation for over 100 years. Along the way we went over a number of streams so on the way back we stopped at 3 of them. The first one we went too was in a valley and while the stream was quite full the surrounding area was very dry. I collect in a sort of seep area surrounded by a hill on 3 sides. There were mainly thorny plants but some flowers and grasses. After sweeping in there for awhile I headed up the hillside on the rocks and collected off of trees hanging down into the seep along with vegetation tops from in the seep. Once I had walked all the way around I headed up on top of the hill for a few more sweeps. The entire area couldn’t have been more that 50 ft across. I caught some cool bugs though including some wasps. Fugo erupted a couple times and you could hear it, sounded like thunder. The next site was a lot wetter since the stream seemed to flow slowly across a grassy area. The leafhopper collecting in the grass was great although I think the natives though we were crazy since we kept passing them in our truck then stopping and theyed pass us. I guess they were walking to town for market. The leafhopper diversity was quite high in the grass, and I collected a number of bugs I haven’t seen before. We then moved onto a 3rd stream site. This one was fairly far from the first 2 which were close to eachother. You had ot pay to enter the park 3q per person and then we collected along a trail that followed the stream. There were quite a few leafhoppers here also including some really cool looking Cicadellinae which were bright blue with red heads. They were so pretty. I think we have some in the collection I actually remember clearing some for dani while she was down I think. I collected on the hillsides and also in the trees. After this site we stopped for lunch at a small restaurant on the roadside. The server and menu were Spanish only so jose dealt with most everything. The special was veal, but after we all ordered it along with pinapple juice since that’s what came with it he said he was out of veal so we had talapia instead. It was served whole like in the carribean, and was quite tasty as was the rice and pinapple juice. It also came with some chicken soup which was good too once it cooled down to a luke warm temperature. I finished my juice and ordered a cherry coke type thing- tasted like a 7-11 slushy. We talked for a while then payed (40q a piece). On the way out josh spotted a lizard- turned out to be a basilisk (brown). They looked a lot like mine did but were brown with stripes. Very cool. We saw an adult male and a juvinel female. We stopped at a grocery store in between the restaurant and the place we were staying. Aubrey stayed to guard the truck and the rest of us went to the store. There wasn’t much food there- some canned tuna, a bunch of snack foods like chips and cookies and then some drinks- boxo milk and some cokes. There was also office supplies, shoes and clothes, furnature and other random goods. I got 2 cans of tuna, some chips, and some drink mix. We also drove past a passed out drunk guy on the sidewalk. Then we drove to the finca(farm) we are staying at for the next 3 days. It’s a 10000 acre coffee plantation/reserve with a lot of primary forest. The plan of attack was to quickly unpack then go set up malaise and pan traps on site. On the way to the finca we saw a Crested caracaras and a bunch of Black vultures. Jose knows a fair amount about birds and said you can see King vultures at the finca. Hes seen aplos on the coast also. Turns out he likes the group of scarbs the wtx green ones are in and really wants to trade for some. I think Dave Marqua could set him up. At the finca I swapped out gear to get ready for malaise trap madness then we headed up the mountain. As we left the residents were sorting coffee beans. On the road jose said there were a lot of aqoties around. Josh and jose saw a squirrel in a tree above the road. We got to the stream site after a bit of steep climbing in the truck and AMC and I started trying to decied where to put up the traps. JRJ offered to help then said hed suggest putting them along streams which I promptly shot down. So AMC (as aubrey will now be known) and I found a great narrowing so we set it up there. The set up was techniquly challenging with no good vertical surfaces. There was a diagonal bamboo stem about 4 in thick so I hung the head off of there then went across the rocks and tied on to a branch on the other side. We then tried to anchor the sides but ran into some length issues. So we moved some rocks around and tied onto a big rock the other side was really sort and I didn’t want to use the rope so I tied onto a branch, but it wasn’t stretched tight enough. So we tried to use leafs to tie the branch back, but the leafs kept splitting. AMC and I looked up and saw JRJ (as josh will now be known) dancing around trying to brush stuff off. He went running over towards the stream still dancing around. We were rather amused and since he didn’t seem to be really concerned we figured he was not in danger of immanent death. We went back to trying to figure out how to tie the branch back and AMC realized we could use a vine. She went and found a good one and we lashed it back. JRJ came over and said he had been swarmed be sweat bees. While AMC was finishing up the vine work I got a long leaf and used that as an anchor to tie back the edge of the malaise trap. All in all it was a very nature malaise trap. Wharton would be proud. The second trap was also a challenge it went right across the stream and was tied onto a small tree thing. JRJ put the head up since hes the tallest of the 3 of us and then we tried to get it anchored all the way around. The head was pulling the tree down so the trap was right over the water. So we tied the branch back to another branch to get it a bit higher off the water. Once we got that one all tied up AMC and I set up YPTs starting at the river then heading up the hill. We put out 30 and they were catching stuff immediately. We set a couple up on top of logs and rocks but most were on the ground. We put the 1968 penny AMC found heads up in the truck as our lucky penny. Back at the truck we loaded up and I jumped in the bed of the truck. David had said someone could ride in the back and that sounded pretty heavely to me so I climbed back there. We headed up the mountain, it was pretty steep and the truck had some trouble in a couple places. There were some cool looking streams we went over that looked like they could be good for collecting off to the sides on. We turned around after a while and I yelled at AMC I was going to use her net so I could collect on the way back down. I tried to hit all the overhanging vegetation I could reach along with some of the low stuff. We got back to where we put the traps and david yelled back they were going to be going faster so I might want to get back in the cab. I figured we couldn’t be going too fast on that road so I stayed back there. After a bit he kicked it in 4 wheel and then I heard a loud squeeling noise. It first I though it was the truck but then I realized we were getting closer to it then farther away. Turns out it was a cicada. A bit farther down the road they spotted a hawk in a tree and stopped. I though they said moth so I was looking for a fluttering morpho or something but then realized they said hawk so I switched search images and spotted it in a tree. Looked lika like a coopers or something similar, but it was pretty dark so hard to say. A bit further down an agouti crossed the road. Then we saw a banana picker with a huge load so we stopped and gave him a ride. When we passed the owners house we stopped and watched the agoutis in his yard, kinda like Brothers Lukes I guess. Jose dropped the picker off and we went to where we were running lights except jose forgot to grab the sheets so we went back. I ran in to grab my kill jars but had a bit of troble jumping out of the bed since there was a ditch I didn’t see. O well. Got my stuff then back to the truck. We went a bit faster down the road this time it was so much fun. Set up the light sheets and started collecting. Dinner was at 8 and we had chicken lazania, broccoli, corn, and fruit. I had tea to drink. Then back to the lights. We caught some cool stuff, including a cool looking Fulgoridae.

02 January 2007

In my 3rd country

made it to guatemala, the flight was bumpy but uneventuful. Aubreys mom fixed me breakfast of eggs and spam since she heard i liked spam. It was quite good. The descent was fast and when we hit the cloud layer it was a fast drop, but the clouds opened up to the city. It was absoultly beautiful. The plane banked sharply and we circled around a volcano before landing. Guatemala City was nice from the air- small neighborhoods seperated by wooded areas. on the ground we made our way through immigration then waited until our baggae appeared. It took awhile but eventually we got it all. Customs was a breeze then we had to find jose. we looked all around but no sign with our names on it or anything. Then this guy came up to david and asked if he was david so we found our guide. We loaded up into the truck and went to the hotel. After unloading he left and the 3 of us went to go find something to eat after unpacking. We wandered around looking for a grocery store but no luck so we ate at some cafe. I ordered an enchilada and a float. The enchilada was unlike any id ever seen it had a fried tortila on top then meat hash type stuff followed by beets lots and lots of beets. Once you got rid of the beets it wasnt bad. Then back to the hotel where aubrey and i watched tv and repacked our stuff to prepere for collecting. It was impressive of the 2 bags and a backpack i have probabily 4/5ths is collecting gear and only 1/5 is my actual stuff, theres a picture of everything I took below. The stuff to the left is my stuff- my clothes, sleeping bag, etc. The stuff to the right is collecting gear. Aubrey and I went to find the hotel bar at about 9 and walked into a pitch black hall. I grabbed my bioquip flashlight (very handy) and we walked out to the lobby where a hotel guy was sitting. The gate was closed and everything was shut down for the night so i guess no guatemalan beer for me tonite. It was nice to have internet for one last day, I got to talk to JAC some along with various family members of mine. Mom tried to work out the cell phone situation so I should be able to call out now. Well see. As usual, rather then going to bed at a decent hour since we were suppose to leave at some ungodly hour we watched TV and played on the computer until it was after midnight. O well

Starting off the New Years right

Once i was back in BCS Aubrey dropped me off at my house and I went to work packing. I pulled out the malaise traps to start patching them up. Aubrey called and said she was coming to get me so I could go to JACs party. JACs party was great as expected. Fair number of people there, had the music going, drank some beer, and talked out by the bbq. As midnight approached us nerds went to time.gov and listened to wwv to get the official midnight. We threw popcorn, did some party favors, and of course drank champaign. Most everyone left within an hour or so, JAC passed out in the yard, and so me and Julie sat around talking until Aubrey came just as Julie was going to take me home. The 3 of us stood around talking in the front yard until aubrey realized she had to take me home so she could go pick up anne and then get home and get some sleep

Monday was mostly spent packing. I woke up around 9 after going to bed at about 5. No idea what i was doing until 5 since i left cammacks at around 230 but o well, guess it was fun stareing at the wall for 2.5 hrs. I did as much packing as i could until about noon when i walked to heep. Talked to pam most of the way. the walk wasnt too bad, and i stopped at the gas station to grab a pint of milk. At heep i stopped in to tell woolley of my adventures then to get info on 301. I also coned him into giving me a ride home when he left. I then went to the office and got a little work done and organized the malaise traps. next i got the wtx samples into ethanol so i could take the jars with me. I also did a loan request for the ucr xyphon. Woolley showed up ands like unsalted saltenes are good and thens asked if I was ready to go. So i packed up all my stuff, messed wasnt with the printer for a few min, then he dropped me off at the house. I called Iana for dinner. She came and got me and we were going to go to cheplote except they were closed. So we went to panda express instead. Then walmart for batterys. I spent 50 bucks on batterys, how sad is that? Then my favorite romanian took me home. I called cammack and begged him to come pick me up and take me to heep so i could pick up some other stuff and also to let me borrow a back up headlamp since my 2 backups were still in the truck whcih was currently on its way between sf and tx. It took them 4 hrs to go 90 miles to santa rosa. So julie and cammack came and we went to heep where i stold a net handle, a small aquarium net, and some other random stuff. Then back to the house to use cammacks duct tape since mine was already packed to fix one of my bags. The Aubrey came and got me and the two of us plus jones left for houston. The drive was uneventful and we got to her house at about 1am. Her mom had steak, beans, and cottage cheese for us so that was my 2nd dinner. It was quite yummy. Then after a bit I went to bed where I could actually hit wireless and play on the computer, where I am typing this now.