Back to the blog after some time off due to increased work load, more intense kids and fatigue after 10:30pm. After this short article I will try to post some more pictures of Florida insects.
So, our mission was going well and we had two days left. The last day I was planning work in the lab : sorting the remaining larvae and prepare a package of material to send out to France. So really, we only had one last day of collection.
Rob had a contact in Georgia telling him that he had a field of volunteer corn that was infested. Volunteer corn is corn that is growing from spilled seeds during the harvest. So, by essence it is not treated because no-one wanted it to grow…
Early this wednesday we hopped in Gaël’s rental car (Marie and I’s car was humid and stinky because of the rain, earlier during the week. Plus, the wheel was shaking, which is not a good thing). Rob took the government truck, a huge blue Chevy pick-up that we were not allowed in because of federal policy. And we drove 2 hours and a half North the I75 from Gainesville to Tifton, Georgia. What’s in Tifton ? For what mattered to us, a research facility of the USDA-ARS, next to the University of Georgia. Rob’s contact was Xinzhi Ni, a research entomologist who tipped him about the volunteer corn.
After Xinzhi offered us some water, he led us to a small open plastic greenhouse, where some wild corn plants were disseminated. It was obvious that it grew after the previous harvest. Quickly, we found Fall Armyworm larvae in there. Most of them were late stages, but we managed to get some L3-L4, that, as usual, we placed in individual cups with cut leaves, and after 2 trays were filled, an hour later, we put everything back in the cooler. Some of the later stages, I kept in ethanol for future DNA studies.
After that, Xinzhi wanted us to check another volunteer corn field at the experimental station further away. Rob also had a plan to set up traps all night there. Indeed, Gaël also wanted a chance to collect adult moths in different areas to try a barcode approach to FAW diet. More on that later.
In the other field, we prospected for over a half hour but it was not heavily infested. Instead, we helped Rob and Xinzhi to prepare the pheromone traps, specific of FAW. And finally, we drove a little more along a railroad track to a field of millet – also infested by moths caterpillar- to set up 2 light traps. Those white buckets were pretty neat. With a protected long lasting battery and a powerful bulb, we kinda wanted to stay there all night and see the catch.
But we had to head back to Gainesville to take care of our precious FAW larvae. Before that we decided to part ways with Xinzhi and head for lunch. It was already 1pm. So we stopped at Cracker Barrel in Tipton and celebrated our last collection.