Saturday, April 7, 2007

Before the insect room construction

After a slight basement water problem (go here for the whole story, complete with photos!), we're finally ready to start construction on the insect room. Here is how it looks right now -

It's a relatively small area, but my plan is to put up a wall with a door to make the area into a square. Then I can add a small heater and hopefully keep the temperature constant. A new floor, and nice paint job, and then I'm all set for bugs.

Well, almost. The bugs still need to survive the trip from London. Last time I had one moth emerge from his cocoon during transit. Since he was constricted in the packaging his wings weren't able to expand within the first few hours of emergence, so they never fully opened and he never bred a female. Hopefully I'll have better luck this year.

I also need to construct an emergence chamber for the moths. As per the terms of my permit to import these special Chinese moths, USDA requires that foreign moths emerge in a chamber that will easily contain parasitoid wasps so the wasps can be captured and killed. These wasps hitch a ride with the cocoons and emerge with the moths. Usually these wasps prey on agricultural pests, but if the wasps were to get out into the wild they could possibly prey on beneficial butterflies or other species of moths. So I'll be required to kill any parasitic wasps that I find. I'll take pictures and post them here if I do find any.

More updates as we make progress.