BioBlitz Series - Lepidoptera (2011)

Identifying specimens at 2011 Lepidoptera Blitz.
Identifying specimens at 2011 Lepidoptera Blitz.

Photo: NPS

Lepidopteran Blitz at Schoodic Point Brings Record Turnout and over 300 spp. *

by Bob Nelson and David Manski

No one could have predicted the intense heat of the weekend back when people were making their reservations for the annual Entomological BioBlitz at the Schoodic Education and Research Center (SERC) of Acadia National Park, but it was a more than pleasant relief to be able to escape to the coolness of the coast until after the heat wave inland broke on Sunday.

Nearly 115 people registered for the event, making this by far the largest turnout for any Blitz since the first small one for ants was held on Mount Desert Island in 2003. Participants included a number of Acadia National Park staff, teachers in a Park-sponsored science training program and a significant contingent from the Maine Butterfly Survey, along with the "usual suspects" from the M.E.S. and elsewhere. Brian Scholtens of the College of Charleston was the lead taxonomist, one of the very few micro-lepidopteran specialists in the country.

All attendees were treated to a thoroughly revamped campus, with new walkways (some replacing old roads), two central parking lots, beautiful landscaping, and above all, a fully renovated working laboratory space. The Schoodic Education and Research Center staff did an outstanding job keeping everyone happily fed with tasty and plentiful meals.

Preliminary results of the Bioblitz yielded over 20 spp. Of butterflies and around 300 moth species. Brian Scholtens took approximately 15 micro-lepidoptera back to his institution for final indentification. The new campus light fixtures along walkways, roads, and exterior buildings proved very fruitful collecting on Saturday night. The cool evening air was replaced about 9-10 p.m. by a warm air mass that raised the temperature by as much as ten degrees. Moth abundance increased dramatically with the increased temperature.

Richard Hildreth once again ran his mercury-vapor lamp at a site near the northwestern end of the Alder Trail, and attracted thousands of moths to his large white sheet. This allowed selective collecting of a wide variety of moths, and people collected until the gas in the generator ran out at about midnight.

On Sunday morning, Cassie Gibbs gave a public presentation titled "Moths and Butterflies in our Lives," which was attended by nearly 40 park visitors. Following the lecture, the group was given a tour of the Bioblitz lab, where moths and butterflies were being sorted, pinned, and identified.

Don Chandler, Charlene Donahue, Andrei Alyohkin, and David Manski are in the process of writing an article for publication by the University of Maine Agricultural Experiment Station summarizing the results of the past Bioblitzes. The tentative title for the publication is "Insects and Spiders of the Schoodic Peninsula, Acadia National Park, Maine".

Preliminary discussions are underway for next year's 10th anniversary Bioblitz, with a tentative plan to focus on aquatic insects - including mosquitoes and midges, Odonata, the EPT taxa (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera), aquatic Coleoptera, etc. Though logistics may be difficult to work out, there is also consideration being given to try to expand the collecting effort beyond the Schoodic Peninsula to include sites in Acadia National Park on on Mount Desert Island. There are also discussions about trying to visit some of the aquatic field collecting sites made by William Procter on Mount Desert Island during his surveys of the area during the early 20th Century.

Thanks to the SERC Institute for their great support and assistance during this and the other BioBlitzes.

*Reprinted with permission from the Maine Entomologist, volume 15, number 3, August 2011

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