- Sugar Ropes: - Moths, Micro-moths, Lacewings, Earwigs, Harvestmen
- Sugar / Treacle Mixture for Nymphalid Butterflies:
- Rotten Potatoes for Dead-wood Diptera:
Placing rotten or half-rotten potatoes in a bucket a hanging these, with covers in place, at various heights in tree canopies, or even under trees, can be very useful in attracting Diptera (Flies) which would normally breed within dead-wood habitats. Many dead-wood diptera larvae can be bred from this substrate as well as other diptera and beetles associated with rotting, carbohydrate-rich (i.e. plant tuber and fruit) habitats. Further enhancements can be made to the apparatus by attaching nets and cones such that the insects can get in to lay their eggs but then find it difficult to escape. Use of a trap-tube with a knock down agent as found on a Malaise Trap is not recommended as this can reduce the number of individuals and the number of species of fly that get to lay their eggs on the rotting potatoes.
Obviously, other substrates such as over-ripe fruit (e.g. apples, pears, bananas) can be used instead of the potatoes but it will be found that due to the fermentation products, mainly alcohols, produced from the high sugar content of the fruit the attraction will be for a completely different set of species of both diptera and coleoptera, and that the resultant mixture will also attract hymenoptera, notably social wasps.
- Laid Down Dead Animals:
- Tree Canopy -Dead Animals:
- Artificial Owl and Raptor Nests:
- Bee and Wasp Nesting Sites:
- Bird Nest Simulation and Usage:
- Feather / Fungal Balls - Micro-moths (Tineids):
Many invertebrates feed on the fungal mycelia produced in animal nests. The fungi break down the proteinaceous material (fur and feathers, and any dead animals), along with the remaining guano, and the invertebrates are attracted to the fungal mycelia as a food source. One of the main groups attracted in this manner are a family of the micro-lepidoptera (micro moths) known as the Tineidae. The conditions found in the nests can be simulated by forming a large ball out of feathers, or animal fur, and enclosing it in a netting bag. These bags should be soaked in water and hung up amongst vegetation. It is preferable if they are placed in positions where they will not receive direct sunlight as they need to be kept moist for the fungal mycelia to develop. The moths will lay their eggs directly onto the feathers or fur and the hatching caterpillars will commence feeding on the fungal mycelia. The bundles should be brought in at 6 week intervals and placed in clear plastic boxes where the development of any larvae can be observed. If no larvae are observed after a further three weeks the bundles should be replaced in the wild. Many of the adults bred out in this way will be scarce but will require genitalia examination to ensure their correct identification.
- Bird Boxes - Micro-moth Larvae, Wingless diptera, Fleas:
At the end of the breeding season most bird boxes on Nature reserves are emptied and cleaned out to allow the cold winter weather to sterilise them before their eventual re-use the following spring. The 'old' bird nesting material, as long as it is fresh from that seasons nesting, will be full of life.
Fleas, mites, lice and ticks will be present as they will have been brought in by the parent birds and their populations will have prospered as they were able to fed on the blood of the sparsely feathered baby birds during their development. Many of the fleas will be present as eggs, larvae, pupae or even as encysted adults awaiting the return of warm blooded food-animals.
Beetles and beetle larvae will be present having been attracted either by the bird droppings (guano) or by dead animals within the nest - this could be from unused food if the bird was a predator or could be from one of the young dying within the nest.
Various lepidoptera larvae or pupae may be present. Some of these will have entered the nest merely as a pupation site but some, particularly the micro-moths of the Tinaeidae genus will be present due to availability of fungal hyphae on shed feathers and guano.
The last main group to be represented will be the diptera (flies). Here there are two possibilities; one are flies that, like the beetle and moth larvae, are their to feed on the deposits and remains within the nest; the second is a group of flies which are difficult to come by in any other way and which can provide some unique a scarce records for a site. These latter flies belong to the Hippoboscidae and are either totally or virtually wingless. They usually live, as parasites, within the feathers of the adult and young birds and like fleas and lice they feed from the blood of the host.
Other inhabitants which occupy a minor role but which may be found include: pseudoscorpions, spiders, centipedes, mites, and hoverfly larvae.
The nest material should be placed within a plastic bag and sealed. This plastic bag should then be placed in a second plastic bag which is also sealed. This will then keep the animals within the nest litter until such time as it can be searched more systematically. However, it can not be left for too long a period as a number of the moth, beetle and fly larvae have jaws which are quite capable of cutting holes in the plastic bags and once this happens you can depend on the fact that most of the animals will leave the nest material and migrate from the bags in a very short time. Many of these animals, particularly the fleas and the lice, are both of a specialist nature and also tend to create a phobic response within the majority of the populace. As a consequence it is often preferable to send the collected nest material off to a specialist for extraction and identification. Before this can be done the specialist MUST be contacted and his/her agreement obtained - currently the British National Flea Recorder is Bob George of Bournemouth (address provided in the contacts list in the appendices).
Other orders (e.g. flies and moths) can be placed in glass or plastic tubes and identified, either by the collector or by another specialist at one of the regional museums, following setting as voucher material
- Bat Boxes - Micro-moth larvae in the Guano, Fleas:
The advice given above for bird-boxes also applies to the guano deposits
to be found both in and under bat-boxes and in bat-roosts (e.g. in caves,
house eaves, roof spaces, etc.). In these instances, although the invertebrate
groups which may be found are very similar but the species found will
be totally different in all cases where the bats themselves provide
the major blood food source. This area then provides another source
of potentially valuable invertebrate records which are almost certainly
under-represented in the current knowledge of their distribution and
provide a high degree of likelihood that they will be new for the site,
possibly for the county and potentially even for the region.