Generally speaking there are three different ways I could spend my work day. I could:
- Spend the day setting, servicing, and/or collecting what insect traps have collected and bringing them back for inspection by the scientists/professionals.
- Spend the day collection, releasing and/or preparing for transfer biocontrol agents from one location to another location to attack invasive plants.
- Spend the day counting grasshoppers and if the density warrants collecting grasshoppers to bring back to the office for inspection by the scientists/professionals.
Doing traps is one of the fun parts of the job. You take off with a truck with a bunch of gypsy moth traps that were made earlier with a book with a bunch of sites and maps for the locations your traps to be set. It takes some above average orienting and map reading skills to find your locations because you are setting traps out in counties you may have never explored before. Even if you get your home county, I promise some of the location you will never even have knew a road existed there before. You also have a limited number of super moth sites you have to set. For those you pick the site and set up five different kinds of moth traps. You might also have to set out traps for Emerald Ash Borer or at an airport for Japanese beetles. All of these sites are testing for other non-native potential insects that we would want to detect their presence Montana as early as possible because of their potential impact on ecosystems and agriculture.
Each of the traps has lure, generally some kind of pheromones that would draw in the potential pest. Some lures will last the whole season and others will only last about a month. So each month we go out to the traps that need to have an updated lure, and pull the captured sample and bag it up, then put out a new lure and a new collection medium.
This was one of the things I did last week. I went back to the super sites I had worked with landowners to set up and serviced traps. I also spent some time at one of Montana’s airports. It was nice in that I knew where I was going and who I was going to work with. I knew what to expect in roads, timing, motels and food. One of the more interesting prospects for me was that I was going back to sites I had been to about a month before. Since that time we have had very little rain and abnormally high temperatures. We have gone from lush green pastures, fields and rangeland to the land of curing vegetation. I realized as I wrote this I did not take hardly any photos this week to show May and now the first week of July. Something I will try to be more aware of to snap a few more pictures this week.