Milkweed Preparation

This week marked the beginning of my milkweed adventures and what I’m sure will become a beautiful relationship with milkweed herbivores. I kicked off the research period by becoming van certified which will become important later in the summer when taking day trips to our nearby but off-campus sites at New Quarter Park and Yorktown Battlefield. We (the milkweed researchers in the Plant Ecology lab) began by revisiting our research questions, establishing summer goals, and designing our experimental set-ups. We have also spent time finding useful literature on our particular subjects that will provide information and potential methods for our projects. I have finally come across papers on crab spiders and milkweed after months of searching which is very exciting for my potential research involving spiders as predators on milkweed. Aside from preparatory lab work, we have inspected our nearby field sites to identify transects from last year. At our first site we were unable to find our tagged plants and anticipate potential problems at this site. However, there is still hope at finding our plants. If not, we know of other prospective sites that we can scout out and perhaps set-up for study. We saw only a couple insects on the milkweed in the field but many spiders were out and about despite the lower temperature so I am looking forward to seeing more! Next week I will try out different methods for insect collection, potentially utilizing sweep nets in place of manual collection.  I am anticipating the coming weeks to be filled with sweat, fun new technology, and hopefully many insects!

Milkweed Summer Research Week 1

Milkweed Set-Up

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