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