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Help Wanted: Camp Cooper Insect Study

by | Apr 18, 2024 | Advancement, Adventures, Scouts BSA, Scouts BSA Camps | 0 comments

Hello all you Future Research Scientists!

Aaron from Camp Cooper here with a fun bit of news and an invitation…

During 2024 we will be performing a robust insect survey of Camp Cooper. The goal is to build a list of insects that live here at Camp Cooper. We have already built a thorough list of plant and bird species, with surprising results. Cooper is home to many rare, threatened and endangered species. We are curious about what the arthropod world has to offer.

Camp Cooper stands as a remarkable study in Island Biodiversity. We have done a fine job in our stewardship of the property, and we can improve that with more data. Which brings us to the task at hand. Catching bugs!* (and other insects.)

Methods we’ll be employing for catching insects include Malaise traps and good old fashioned butterfly nets. But the most effective and common method is simply to look for and pick up insects. Other than wasps and bees, this is safe! Malaise traps are little more than a light sheet that gathers anything flying perpendicular to its spread. Butterfly nets require a bit more athletics. Some of these insects will get pinned for preservation, some will be stoppered in preserving fluid to the same end. From there, we will send these to Dr. Matt Medeiros.

Matt is a research entomologist who specializes on the flightless moths of Pacific Island caves. His current research revolves around the gastric microbiome of Diptera species. That is, what is living inside a fly’s gut? He works with mass spectrometry to isolate and identify individual pheromones which insects communicate with. FUN FACT! Matt is Camp Cooper alumnus, having worked on campstaff from 1994 through 1998. Matt has generously offered up both his considerable skill set and his lab for identifying our quarry. Some of this will include dissection, some will include DNA sequencing.

Interestingly, the world of insects (a class within the Arthropod phylum) is vast enough that most of our samples will be keyed only to a family level. The number of entomology specialists is hugely dwarfed by the class Insecta! No one person can key out all specimens to a species level.That said, if we do find interesting specimens and determine that they’re new species, Matt has the resources and connections that allow us to draw more granular data. New insect species are being discovered every day. Cooper may be home to unique insect species that have not yet been described.

NEAT. I am in. What do you need of me?

I am glad you asked that! Principally, we need Your Boots on the Ground. There are a few periods over the course of the year that will be extra valuable for specimen collection, but the insects keep their own calendar, and won’t give me the link to it. Whether you day-trip to camp with your family, or arrive with a scheduled troop, your time and effort is appreciated and valued.

Here soon we will have a large spring insect hatch. Later in the spring we will start seeing moths and butterflies and the fall brings a new set of insects. When a turn in the season happens, our most valuable collections window will be about two weeks (per period.) I’ll ping the team each time that happens. We need to survey areas near the lake, near the waterfall, and upland forests.

First things first. If you are interested, please reach out to me at rangeryoder@gmail.com. If you are a youth, you must copy your parents and an adult leader from your troop in the email. From there we’ll coordinate work as a team!

If you have questions, comments or reservations, by all means shoot them my way. I’ll do my best to answer, and your curiosity will absolutely guide this effort to success.

My Very Best,

     -Aaron Yoder, Camp Cooper Ranger

*To be clear, the true bugs exist within the Hemiptera order. You will be familiar with Stink Bugs, Cicadas and Aphids. All other insects and arthropods, like butterflies, mayflies and ladybugs are not actually bugs!

Let’s Catch Some Bugs!

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Adventure, grit & growth start here. In the Cascade Pacific Council, we develop the self-starters, goal-getters & leaders of tomorrow, making a positive impact on individuals and communities for generations.

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