What is an Insect BioBlitz?

What’s one of the best ways to spend a beautiful Saturday in July?  Catching “bugs” at Fields Pond!  And that’s exactly what more than two dozen of us did on Saturday July 13th at the Fields Pond Insect BioBlitz.  Armed with nets, magnifying lenses, and clear jars, we documented everything from beetles to butterflies, mosquitoes to moths, and lots of things in between.

What is a BioBlitz, you may ask?  Usually a BioBlitz is set up to identify as many species as possible in a specific location during a limited time frame.  Some BioBlitzes include all species–spiders, mosses, birds, etc.–while others, like the one we held on Saturday, are limited to one taxonomic group; insects in our case.  A BioBlitz can provide important information on the species found at a specific location, can help document change over time, and it’s a great way to understand the natural communities of an area.  It’s also a great opportunity to get people from all different backgrounds outdoors, learning from each other while documenting the life found in a specific place.  You often have a mix of experts–we had a firefly expert and some butterfly experts–side-by-side with naturalists, families, and students.

Family together at Insect BioBlitz
Family exploring the Insect BioBlitz

Working together using books, websites, and our collective years of experience, we did our best to identify as many insect species as possible.  We had tables set up at the Fields Pond headquarters where folks could bring their finds for documenting with photographs, and with any luck, identification. Then they were released back where they were found.  We also used a new tool on Saturday, iNaturalist, to help us document the insects we found and post them online for additional identification assistance from the iNaturalist community.  We had 59 observations between 10 am and 2 pm, and of those we identified 43 species or taxonomic groups.  Some, like the Milkweed Leaf Beetle, we were able to identify to species, while others were only identified down to family.  Hopefully more will be identified down to genus and species over the next few days as the photos are examined and identifications are proposed–you can check out our finds here and see more photos of the event on the Fields Pond Audubon Center Facebook page.

But the best part of the day for me was seeing the kids; little budding entomologists armed with nets and magnifying boxes and the most incredible sense of wonder.  One little 5- or 6-year-old ran up to the table with an insect in a magnifying box; “I’ve got a damselfly, I’ve got a damselfly!” he shouted, approaching a professional entomologist.  He showed her his catch and then said, in a subdued and serious tone, “I don’t know all my damselfly species yet.”  “Neither do I,” she replied with a smile.

 

Out catching “bugs” at Fields Pond
Atlantis Fritillary
Atlantis Fritillary
Roesel’s Bush-Cricket
Hickory Tussock Moth
Hickory Tussock Moth
Milkweed Leaf Beetle
Milkweed Leaf Beetle
Milkweed Leaf Beetle
Widow Skimmer
Widow Skimmer
Mosquito
Mosquito (Photo by Sophie Demaio)