With the collecting side of my research complete I now face the the task of sorting, IDing, counting, and pointing the insects collected over the past four months. I have two types of samples from two different collection techniques: yellow pan traps and beat nets.
The pan traps are the solid, this-is-my-focus samples. The results will hopefully show some sort of consistency in diversity and numbers for each sample site. Hopefully. Anyhow, I've got some help with these samples from a brilliant fellow called Tom who works at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. I'm pretty lucky to be working with him. He's pre-sorting the samples. I'm pointing them. This involved gluing tiny wasps (think less than 0.5 mm) to tiny points of paper. The points are put on pins. Eventually these samples will end up in the collection at the museum.
The beat nets are more my lets-see-what-we-can-catch-today and sort later for fun samples. When I couldn't be out collecting the good stuff I was in the lab, learning to ID the various insects I caught in these samples. I figure if I want to be an entomologist I need to know my insects. What better way than forcing myself to sort to order and then key out stuff later. Along the way I've gotten much more confident in my skills as a researcher, and this seems to as though it's rubbing off in everything else I do. (Yay confidence!)
Wish me Luck!