Blog by ROM Entomology Technician Antonia Guidotti
This is the third installment of our "BioBlitz Bits" Series - ROM scientists share their favourite stories from past Ontario BioBlitz events
WIth so many species of insects around the world, it’s incredible how many you can find so close to home, during an Ontario BioBlitz. Last year, we had a couple interesting discoveries when we surveyed throughout the Humber Watershed. One of which happened early on, when my sons and I were setting up our campsite at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection grounds. We noticed many tiny cockroaches crawling on the ground. At first, we thought they were a type of roach called Wood Roaches, but we weren't sure anddecided to collect the specimens for a closer look. Steve Paeiro, a blitzer and an amazing entomologist (who can identify almost any Ontario insect), identified the specimens as Dusky Cockroaches, Ectobius lapponicus. Dusky Cockroaches are a new species in Ontario [non-native]. They were first introduced to North America from Europe, but they are not considered pests, and you are unlikely to find them in your homes. Dusky Cockroaches had never been formally recorded in Ontario, but now, thanks to the Bioblitz, we know they are here!
Another great find last year was from the Glen Haffy Conservation Area. It was Saturday night and Andrew Smith, a beetle specialist from Ottawa, had just set up a light trap - a setup that involves a white sheet and a light that is used to attract beetles. He noticed a black beetle walking across the white sheet and collected it. After the Bioblitz, with the help of another entomologist, Adam Brunke, the specimen was identified as a Rove Beetle, Ocypus nitens.
This is really cool because it’s aagain the first Canadian record for another non-native species. The native range of the Rove Beetle extends throughout Eurasia, and they were first reported in North Eastern USA in 1985. Given that we’ve now found this Rove Beetle in the Toronto area, it’s evident that it is spreading westwards.
Discoveries like these highlight just how important BioBlitzes can be; we catalogued over 400 species of invertebrates alone from the 2014 Ontario BioBlitz! With so many insect species in Ontario, there's a big chance that we would not have noticed or been able to record these new species occurances had there not been a BioBlitz. Being able to bring my kids along and involve them in the event and nature, while also engaging the public in collecting this scientific data makes the BioBlitz a must-do for nature lovers.
For more information about the Ontario BioBlitz, check out the website www.ontariobioblitz.ca