Back in July, we introduced you to our ongoing project in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The study aims to better understand the massive declines of insect populations across the globe.

We have since finished our trapping sessions for the season, so now we move on to lab work. Lab work entails two major tasks: identification and counting.

It doesn’t seem like such a daunting task, until you realize that the majority of the insects are just teeny specks.

Teeny. Tiny. Specks. And we identified and counted (and sorted!) all of them.

For this project, all the insects have to be sorted to order, and then individually counted. Eventually, all the insects we collected will be weighed as well, to get a sense of the overall insect biomass at our trap site. Considering this collection is from just one (out of three) trap sessions, it may be some time until we reach weighing portion.

The only insects that we identified beyond order were those belonging to the suborder Nematocera. Nematocerans include mosquitos, gnats, and crane flies, and make up a large portion of the diet of hatchling swallows. In addition to insect abundance, some of the researchers involved in this study want to know if insect declines correlate with declines in swallow populations.