In the desert, there doesn’t seem to ever be a bad time to collect. This spring has been no exception for the taxonbytes lab members!
Most entomological collecting in the southwest seems to be planned in accordance with the amazing monsoon activity that the area is known for. Even though there is still much to be discovered in the fauna that emerges after our summer rains, there is also a large fauna which is not associated with rains; in fact there are many species which exhibit late spring-early summer emergences which seems to be oddly uncommon in collections.
Yesterday was a day of firsts.
Dumont Sand Dunes, California.
It it was the first time I got a truck stuck in a sand drift. It was also the first time I dug a truck out of a sand drift.
But it was all worth it, yesterday yielded our first specimens of Trogloderus! We were camping behind the Dumont Dunes north of Baker, CA. They appear to be a different morphotype than any of the four known from Mono Lake located a few car hours north.
The next stops are northern Nevada and southwestern Idaho.
Lab members Andrew Jansen, Guanyang, Lin Pan, and Sangmi Lee headed out to the Imperial Sand Dunes near Yuma, AZ, for a weekend in late January to collect beetles and moths that are out and about at this time of the year. It has been a dry winter but darkling beetles and broad-nosed weevils (such as Trigonoscuta) were out in some numbers. See photographs of the wonderful scenery here.
Four members of the Franz Systematics Lab went to the Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America: Salvatore Anzaldo, Andrew Jansen, Andrew Johnston, & Guanyang Zhang. Except for Andrew Johnston, we all presented talks on our research. Sal and I presented in the 10 minute paper competition, while Guanyang presented during a member symposium and as the Featured Young Professional during the SysEB Member Symposium (WAY TO GO!!!). Nico Franz also submitted a poster showcasing the Symbiota project WoNA (Weevils of North America). We attended many interesting and intellectually stimulating presentations during the conference, and made sure to spend time networking and socializing with our peers and fellow researchers during the meetings of the Entomological Collections Network (ECN), and the Coleopterists Society. All in all, it was a blast! Afterwards, we spent 4 days on the road collecting insects. Andrew Johnston sought Eleodes, a genus of Tenebrionidae, while I chased after my weevils in the genus Minyomerus. We met with considerable success in the field, and even managed to bring home live critters. We collected primarily in sand dunes, including one locality north of Austin, as well as the Monahans Sandhills, and the Red Dunes near El Paso. It was a truly memorable experience.