One “Entomologist”, a Million Bugs, and Not Much Time!

Rusty Goodchild explains the challenges of jungle office work and venomous pointy creatures.

Sometimes, no matter how much you think about it, no matter what experience you draw from others, and no matter how many books you read, you just can’t quite prepare for the inevitable. I was one of the last to arrive at Camp Foyle, and when I did there were already three specimen pots waiting for me, the first one I picked up had an insect in it I had never seen before, so it went down on my form, designed to cover every eventuality, ‘Fluffy Insect’. Superb start.

What I Try To Do

My role here is entomology, basically to study the invertebrates, however there is no way I could deal with the most diverse half of the animal kingdom on my own, so there is a hit list. I was always going to do something with spiders, my favourite beasties, and with some direction from a chap called Merlin (yes, Merlin) I am covering two families of insects, two orders of arachnids, and a sub-order of the latter. 

Processing the Wave of Invertebrates

All the inverts I get either come from specific Visual Encounter Surveys, Pitfall Traps, or random Incidental encounters, which provide the vast majority of all my specimens. Once captured they are all assigned a number, kept with the time and place of capture, they are then all photographed, and if they are not a target species or not suitable for keeping they are released.

Sadly, being a scientific expedition samples have to be gathered for analysis afterwards, so the suitable target species find their way to the preservation jar. Hopefully from here they will identified to confirm that their species is present in this area, or they become a new species! There have been several finds that have gotten me excited but I’m not holding my breath, but it would be so validating to discover new species.