A Hive of Activity
by Lillie and Kamryn
Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf and take an insect view of its plan.
- Henry David Thoreau
An exploratory study was conducted to better understand the diversity of insects at Conservancy Park Belleview. Research compared the native grass field with the non-native plants on the trail.
Two plots were mapped out at Conservancy Park: one was a 15x15 meter square plot randomly placed in a native grass field, and the other plot followed the main trail around the Conservancy Park pond (~0.25 mile).
Insects in the native grass plot were collected by sweeping butterfly nets at random throughout the plot at varying heights for 2 minutes; the native grass averaged 1 meter tall. This plot was surveyed by two people. Insects in the trail plot were also collected by sweeping butterfly nets at random along the ground and across edge vegetation that bordered the trail; there was no specific time limit set for the trail collection, but it took about 10 minutes to survey the whole trail (the trail was split into two sections so the researchers could cover more ground).
At the end of a collection, bugs were dumped into gallon size Ziploc bags from the butterfly nets (This was the hardest part of the whole collection! Eight or more bees were set free before being stored in the Ziploc bags, because they were very angry and eager to sting.). The Ziploc bags were sealed and later stored in a freezer.
Back at the office, the insects were dumped out of the frozen Ziploc bags and organized into 10 major insect orders. The number of individuals representing each order from each plot collection were counted and recorded. A Shannon Diversity Index calculation was then used to compare the diversity of the native grasses versus the trail vegetation.
The native grasses showed more diversity (82.65%) across insect orders compared to the trail diversity (73.11%). Despite the trail collection having at least one individual representing all 10 insect orders compared to the native grasses having all but one order represented (Lepidoptera), the proportion of individuals in each order was more even across the native grass collection.