Yes it does and we have Kelly Oten, North Carolina Forest Health Monitoring Coordinator, to thank! We had emailed Brian Heath, North Carolina Forest Health Specialist, and asked him if he had any suggestions for identifying the beetles that we were finding in our traps. He forwarded our email to Kelly Oten and her response made us very hopeful! In her email she told us that she might be able to send us a Walnut Twig Beetle in a vial of alcohol. We were thrilled. We emailed her back very quickly and received a package in the mail a few days later. We were expecting just to see the walnut twig beetle, but instead were given many surprises. Not only did she gives us a male and female walnut twig beetle she also provided us with a small identification tool and pamphlets about thousand cankers disease. We could not have been more grateful!! Thank you SOOOO much Kelly!! This means the world to us!
Remember the traps we were telling you about and how we hoped that they would do well? Well… they did! They by FAR exceeded our expectations. In the few weeks and that the all twelve traps were up, we collected beetles from all traps four times and collected over 40 beetles! After we recorded all 46 beetles, we began the process of growing fungi. We selected the beetles that had the most similarities to the Walnut Twig Beetle (WTB) since our beetles are still, can you guess? That’s right! They are still unidentified. So, we just selected 20 beetles with the most similarities such as length and width, color, and body structure. We also tried to select at least one from every trap. Now… to grow fungus! It took about two days to develop a process that would be as sterile as possible. Our goal was to try to grow fungus that the beetle may or may not be carrying. We also wanted to test in interior AND exterior of the beetle. To keep everything as sterile as possible, we used the hood which is just a large hood that limits the amount of bacteria that the object comes in contact with. To do this, we first tested the outside of the beetle. Since we could not sterilize the outside of the beetle without killing any fungus, we could not take that extra measure of sterilization. To collect any fungal spores that the beetle may carry, we placed the beetle in sterile distilled water and put it in the vortex (a machine that mixes everything up). We then took a sterile swab and dipped it into the water and smeared it onto an agar plate and used parafilm (a stretchy wax) to seal the petri dish shut. Next we tested the inside of that same beetle. We removed the beetle from the sterile distilled water and placed it in ethanol to sterilize the outside of the beetle just in case the beetle carried two different fungi. Next we placed the beetle into fresh sterile distilled water and crushed it up. There is not a more scientific way to say that… is there? Then we placed it into the vortex, dipped in the sterile swab, smeared it on a different petri dish, and parafilmed it shut. This process is for one beetle. As you can tell… this took a LONG time. Next we hope to identify any fungus that we grow. Wish us luck with the rest of our project!
This week we have started documenting the beetles we have collected from our trial trap located at Brevard High School. We take the beetles found in our trap and place them in a plastic bag. When we get inside they are placed inside the freezer for thirty minutes. After thirty minutes we place all beetles found into their own small petri dish. Then we began to use a stereoscope to determine the width and length of the beetles found. We take pictures of the Dorsal, Ventral, Antennae, Width, and Length of every beetle. Parafilm is used to seal shut and then they are placed back into the freezer. After all round one beetles are collected and documented, then we will decide what beetles to identify and what beetles to discard. Wish us luck!
Just some background for you!
Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD) – A fungal pathogen that kills Black Walnut Trees.
Sarah and Crista have been hard at work designing traps to collect bark beetles, Walnut Twig beetles to be specific. They have created their own Lindgren Funnel traps based on the popular design and set them up near Black Walnut Trees. They have been setting their traps up all over the county. Maybe you have seen them! There are now traps at Brevard High School, Brevard Animal Hospital, Sycamore Flats, the Pisgah Ranger Station, Looking Glass Falls, along Rosman highway, and Brian Phillips lawyer. The traps will be left up for one to two months in hope of catching the Walnut Twig Beetle to study.