Sunday, May 17, 2009


Last summer I posted about a Bioblitz that I worked on in Illinois. It was great event and in the 24 hour period we cataloged well over 1500 species. On Friday we set off to Indiana Dunes to do another one but unfortunately the weather forecast was appalling. Even more unfortunately, for once, the forecasters were right! We had flash flood warnings, severe thunder storm warnings and high wind warnings, all of which occured!

This is what all the top models will be wearing on the Paris catwalks this summer! Belive it or not we are standing on a footpath not in a pond! The neoprene chest waders were definitely the clothing item of choice for the weekend! Unfortunately we all still managed to get soaked to the skin when we were not wearing them. In an area of such diverse habitats we should have been able to get a massive species count in the 24 hour period but the appaling weather really hampered everyones activities.

The region is known for a particularly rare species of butterfly called the Karner Blue Lycaeides melissa samuelis Its host plant is the wild lupine and there was certainly no shortage of that around but not a single butterfly to be seen in the awful weather.

This Six-spotted Tiger Beetle Cicindela sexguttata is almost obscured by the rain drops captured in this picture, not a great picture of the beetle but it certainly gives a good idea of how heavily it was raining! Needless to say the insect count was pretty low.

One group that was not detered by the weather of course, were the amphibians. This handsome American Toad Bufo americanus joined us at our blacklighting sight in the evening. He was hoping that our light would draw in some tasty snacks for supper, we were hoping that the light would draw in some interesting species for our count, we were all disappointed, the torrential rain kept pretty much everything away!

The only interesting visitor to our blacklight was this Honest Pero Moth Pero honestaria. We managed to catalogue it, I don't know whether the patient toad made it supper later in the night! Next morning we went looking for more amphibians.

We found these two amorous American Toads firmly hanging onto either end of a Fowlers Toad Bufo fowleri but unfortunately, as sometimes happens in these situations they were so focused on keeping a hold of her they had actually drowned her. Even though she was dead they were still determindly hanging onto her! We did manage to pry them off and they then immediately latched onto our hands. If you get hold of a male, it squeaks, thus telling another male to get off! The females don't squeak and neither, of course did our hand, so the male toad thought it was onto a winner!

A much more descrete character is this charming Blue-spotted Salamander Ambystoma laterale. Usually found under decaying wood it feeds on spiders, centipedes, slugs and earthworms. We were able to add several of these to our count.
Inspite of a couple of hundred scientists best efforts, the species count for the 24 hours of this bioblitz was only somewhere in the region of about 860 which is very low. But at least we got chance to be out in the field which is always a bonus. Now we just need a few days to dry all our equipment out!!

Photo Credits - CJT


Arija said...

...and a great time was had by all!
Hope you did not catch any sniffles or coughs to round out your total count!
Field trips are great come rain, hail or shine.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

It still looked like fun. Those toads are wicked! Horrible outcome for the female....and your hands. lol!

Awesome photos...and even some smiling faces, too.


Anonymous said...

I so sorry that the weather was so awful, but I enjoyed the photos. It does seem that being a female during mating season where mating is done near water is not a good thing. I have watched some female ducks being dunked during mating....