Modified buried traps for the new season

Despite the dire outlook that this will be the worst drought ever, I am motivated by last year’s success to put out more buried traps, in more places this year. Learning from last year, I have refined my methods.

First thing was to pay close attention to the bait, which I brewed up in a big batch this time, using the mix of ingredients shown in the image below.

IMG_0230

Materials and ingredients: 1. small canning jars, 2. dollar-store salt and pepper shakers, 3. chicken livers, chopped (2 cups), 4. brown sugar (1/3 cup), 5. molasses (2 tablespoons), 6. dry red beans (1/3 cup), 7. mushrooms, slightly past their prime (1/3 cup), 8. yeast (1 pk), and [not shown], 1/3 cup of rich dirt from my compost heap.

I mixed all the ingredients and put 2-3 ounces in each of the bait jars and froze them. When I am ready to put out traps I take the jars out of the freezer about 24hrs ahead. If I need a quick-start I put the jars in a hot water bath (~100F) and get the yeast going. Salt and pepper shakers are new this year, as these work

Bait jars with the yummy goodies inside.

Bait jars with the yummy goodies inside.

great as a bait jar in my small jar traps (thanks to Igor Solokov for this suggestion).

Two other modification this year include my switch to using small, red plastic plates for the rain shield; replacing those heavy metal ones DSC05229I used before, and switching to a plastic “hardware cloth” for the outer jar lid screens. This is a super tough material, that comes in rolls and is used for screening rain gutters.  It is cheap, available at the hardware store,  easy to cut and lighter than the metal hardware cloth.

So far I have set traps in locations 1. near Curry Canyon, Contra Costa Co., 2. vicinity of Bouquet Reservoir, and 3. the San Dimas Experimental Forest, the latter both in , LA Co. Here are some pictures of the trap sites. I have a couple more places I want to put out traps and then we will see what is inside in April or May.

A very special thanks to Rolf Aalbu and Anna Holden for helping me on this trip by digging holes, collecting beetles and taking pictures.

Rolf Aalbu helps me dig in one of the few horizontal sets in a road side bank of tumble-down dirt and rock, beneth the roots of a large oak.

Rolf Aalbu helps me dig in one of the few horizontal sets in a road side bank of tumble-down dirt and rock, beneth the roots of a large oak.

Buried trap site, near Curry Canyon, Contra Costa Co.

Buried trap site, near Curry Canyon, Contra Costa Co.

Buried trap site, San Dimas experimental Forest.

Buried trap site, San Dimas experimental Forest.

General habitat in the area of the lower elevation trap site in San Dimas Experimental Forest.

General habitat in the area of the lower elevation trap site in San Dimas Experimental Forest.

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About Kip Will

I'm an insect systematist with expertise in carabid beetles, who is always happiest in the bush.
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