BUG FLUX ACROSS NORTH AMERICA (2004)I get bored on long trips, and so my mind wanders. I was staring at the antenna on our truck on one road trip, and noticed how it was covered in bugs, much as our windshield. I began to think about the volume swept out by the antenna, and how you could learn things about bugs simply by counting how many hit your car antenna. Of course, they're hard to count on the antenna. What about the windshield? Well that would work, but there were far too many to convince Michelle to let me count every time we stopped for gas. This experiment was the result of those ponderings.
When we moved from Pasadena, CA and Bozeman, MT to State College, PA I knew it was going to be a long and boring drive, so I decided that would be the ideal time to try my new science experiment.
A standard collectorIn order to do a study, I decided the best thing to have was a standard area collector which would allow me to drive and catch bugs, then at any stop quickly swap out the collection surface and store it for later use. I settled on the idea of something which could be fastened magnetically to the front of the car, and settled on a hide-a-key box. I cut the top off the box to make an open access to the collection surface, which would simply be small pieces of index cards which I had cut out to fit. Installed index cards are outlined and numbered so when removed I know what the active area was. Build and setup pictures are shown below:
Experiment Number 01: Bozeman, MT to State College, PAFlux Cards: 23 June 2004 -- 26 June 2004
These images are of the individual flux cards collected on the journey from Bozeman, MT to State College, PA. The critical data on the collection of each card is tabulated below:
Flux Card DataSince the bugs don't stay on the cards possibly, I count as a hit any bug on the card, as well as any obvious splat. The tables below give for each card: Hit count, and implied density converted to bugs/m^3 [DENSITY = HITS/ (mileage x 2" x 1.25")], and images.
The images are the card images taken when the card was removed, and follow-up images taken at 60x magnification with my QX3+ Digital USB Microscope. Click on the images for larger versions!
Open QuestionsHaving only done one experiment, there are still open questions as to the design of the experiment. Here are things I would like to understand with future experiments:
Microscope images were taken with an Intel-Play QX3+ digital USB microscope (now made by Digital Blue), with images captured on the Macintosh using Eric Hangstefer's excellent utility miXscope.