First day of field work!

Zoe and Makenzie are SO happy to finally be in the field. Field work dispatch from Randa: Yay! After 10 days of checking the weather, constructing degree day maps to model the development of our main pest of interest (the alfalfa weevil), and making plans and changing them over and over again, we finally made it out to the field. Our timing for insect sampling was perfect – just at the start of weevil third-instars in the field. We are targeting this life stage to sample because previous studies have shown that late-instar larvae are your best bet for rearing out parasitoid wasps and estimating parasitism rates (like in Tatyana Rand’s 2013 Environmental Entomology paper). We had a great day. I learned that Zoe, our research tech, is amazing at identifying birds! I shouldn’t be too surprised since she worked with the Teton Raptor Center for years – but seeing her skills in action is pretty cool. During our drive and field work today we saw: a juvenile golden eagle, a few osprey sitting atop their large nests, and several Swainson’s hawks and red-tailed hawks. Oh and as for the research? We sampled three producer fields in southeastern Wyoming and just over the border in Nebraska, saw lots of great insects in our sweep nets (lady beetles! Nabid bugs! green lacewings! and yes, lots of alfalfa weevil). We also made some interesting observations regarding floral resources but I’ll leave that to a future blog post from Makenzie since it’s a big finding for her project….tune in to our blog to follow along with our adventures and research findings! Thanks!

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