Search for Subterranean Beetles

portola redwoods

Beetles are everywhere around you.  Don’t worry though, considering the vast number of species, beetles are a surprisingly innocuous bunch, at least towards humans.  They live basically everywhere and if you want to collect a variety of species, you need to employ a variety of collecting techniques.  My personal beetle collecting method of choice is using a beating sheet – taking a large sheet and placing it beneath a tree, lightly hitting that tree with a stick, and waiting for insects to fall onto the sheet.  But there are myriad methods to employ.  A few weeks ago, I traveled out to Portola Redwoods State Park* with my PI and a handful of additional arthropod lovers to set up some traps for some itsy, bitsy blind subterranean beetles.  As I mentioned, beetles are everywhere, including living between rock spaces underneath the ground.  So we lugged shovels, picks, and axes into the woods and buried traps up to a meter down beneath the surface.  We baited the traps with stinky things like rotten cheese and rotten meat…hopefully irresistable for the beetles. The traps are currently sitting out there, collecting beetles and waiting for our return – fingers crossed!  The traps will be checked in May to see if they actually did attract any creatures – beetles or otherwise.

If you would like to learn more about the details of this collecting method, I suggest you read the blog post here. (you’ll see that I also make a cameo in the post!)

Here are some photographs taken throughout the day:

*You should definitely not go out and attempt this method in your nearest state park – this is sure to ruffle some feathers.  We had express permission and the proper paperwork needed to conduct this work.  If you are thinking of trying this method, please make sure you have gone through all the proper channels to ensure that beetle collectors one and all keep their shiny [elytral] reputations. Thanks!


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