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Quick bug collecting and gear test trip

By Troutnut on April 12th, 2021
I was out in the Issaquah Alps doing some puppy training yesterday and decided to bring my bug-collecting stuff along. Mostly it was an excuse to get more practice with my new microscope and test out a new system for holding bugs I've sorted to photograph.

Previously, I've had some sensitive specimens quickly die after being sorted into their own separate containers or compartments, either because the water warms up more quickly in the compartments or the oxygen runs out. This leads to specimens that aren't in ideal shape for photos. To solve the problem, I drilled holes in an ice cube tray and gorilla glued some little squares of 250-micron Nitex mesh (drift sampling net material) to the outside. Then I stick the whole thing in a tub of aerated water with a freezer block. This allows me to separate different types of bugs into lots of compartments, while still having them aerated and cooled from a common, larger reservoir of water.

It worked great. Some typically fragile Baetids and Heptageniids stayed in good shape for a very long time, more than long enough to take photos. I didn't photograph any of the Heptageniids, though, because they were Cinygmula and Rhithrogena nymphs for which there are no species keys available.

My favorite new addition was Claassenia sabulosa, a very pretty golden stonefly nymph.

There were also a lot of Hesperoperla pacifica nymphs in the sample, but I already have good photos of those.

Closeup insects by Troutnut from Holder Creek in Washington

Comments / replies

MillcreekApril 16th, 2021, 11:57 am
Healdsburg, CA

Posts: 356
Nice photos. You should give some thought to photographing species for which keys are unavailable. Even if you can't get past genus you at least have a record and possibly can identify it if someone does come up with a key. Anyway I've really been enjoying the western species you've been photographing.
TroutnutApril 16th, 2021, 7:03 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
Yeah, I've taken plenty of photographs of specimens I know I can't identify beyond genus in the past, and I'm sure I will in the future. But I'll probably be a but more selective about them, i.e. favoring distinctive-looking mature specimens, because otherwise I'll just have dozens of nondescript "Cinygmula nymph" nobody's looking at. For now, I'm trying to focus more of my effort on adding taxa I don't have well-represented yet.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist

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