Bush Blitz - pitfall traps and the search for true bugs

Tom Parkin digs pitfall traps

Day two - Tuesday 30 August The sun rises slowly over the saltbush gradually bringing colour to Credo Station, soft and cool with a clear blue sky. Perfect weather for field work. The teams are briefed, equipment gathered and the scientists head out in various directions looking for the best places to set up traps and plot the next two weeks of prime collection sites.

I spend the day in the company of two charming gentlemen Mark Cowan (Department of Environment and Conservation vertebrate specialist) and Tom Parkin (WA Museum vertebrate specialist) who are not to gentlemanly to give me a shovel to help dig pitfall traps. Marina Cheng (University of NSW true bug specialist) joins us, quietly moving through the acacia, ‘beating’ bushes looking for her target taxa. Many scratches and aching muscles later, four trap lines are set ready for the morning.

Marina Cheng searches for true bugs

Returning to base camp the volunteers from BHP Billiton have arrived fresh and eager to help out tomorrow – I’m glad I left them some pitfall traps to dig! As it starts to get dark the smell of fresh cooked lasagne, by caterer extraordinaire Robbie, mingles with the scent of nightfall in the desert. Keen scientists set up light traps in the hope of catching parasitic wasps and Mark Harvey (spider specialist, WA Museum) takes a small group out with UV lights hunting scorpions.

Mark Cowen makes peanut butter treats for the small mammal traps

The first day has been a success and the volunteers are excitedly looking forward to their first day in the field tomorrow.

For more on Bush Blitz visit our website.

Jo Harding, Bush Blitz