… and I’ve worked two 12-hour days in a row!! We had another 7 AM – 7 PM day, but this one felt way longer than yesterday because we had a lot of lab work. Jake and I went out in the field for a couple hours to collect rat traps: here’s a photo of one of the rat traps with all the little rat footprints. They ate the coconut! The paper inserts have a little ink pad near the coconut so the rats make tracks as they leave, and we attach a thread to one side so we can pull them out while we're standing on the ground and can avoid climbing the trees unnecessarily.
We got back to the lab around 10 and spent the next 5 hours sorting bugs individually. This involves rinsing with tap water, rinsing with two washes of ethanol (about 5 rinses per wash) and then literally picking out each bug individually and putting it into a vial. I swear, my eyes were crosseyed by the last sample. It was actually kind of satisfying, and once again I had a book on tape to keep me company. Otherwise I think I would’ve gone insane. I don’t think Jake has ever done that kind of super tedious work before, and he just had regular music, so I don’t know how he managed to keep at it.
We finished the bugs around 3, and then spent two hours separating leaves from branches. That’s right, separating individual leaves from branches and putting them into two separate bags. The hardest part was sorting the through the dusty leafy bits at the bottom of the bag, because there were lots of fragmented leaves we had to pick out. I did two bags and Jake only got through one bag before he had to leave and go on a run. I think he was getting a major case of cabin fever.
Devin came back around 5 with 4 bags of tree clippings that we had to sort for bugs, so that took another 2 hours. The leaves were pretty wet because it had been raining and there were a lot less bugs, so we’re worried that maybe the temperature/sampling environment might play a significant role in insect density instead of just kipuka size. We’ll have to sort that out… but it was still fun playing with the aspirator. I think I got a couple lungfulls of ethanol before we fully rinsed the aspirator though – my poor lungs!
We finished work around 7 and jetted back to the apartment so we could speed eat our dinner. Tommy, who we shadowed last week, gave us a ride to the dollar movie theater (it was actually $1.25 per ticket) and we watched “Land of the Lost” with Will Farrell. Jake, Tommy, Ronnie, and I all really enjoyed it even though it was absolutely ridiculous. I think they filmed the actors just talking, and then decided on a storyline afterwards because it made no sense and was filled with random and hilarious lines and “plot” twists. We just got back and now I am officially tired. Phew!
Tomorrow we start at 8, so that will be a nice break from the early morning wakeups. We have a ton to do though, so no guarantees about when we’ll be done; I guess we’ll see what tomorrow has in store!