A STRATEGY FOR REVEALING CRYPTIC BEASTIES: SOME THOUGHTS ON THE VALUE OF EMERGENCE CAGES.

George Gibbs *1


1 Victoria University

An emergence cage refers to any tent-like device that can intercept flying insects emerging from a natural substrate (e.g pond or stream, pasture, forest floor etc.) or, in my case, for revealing very difficult-to-find adults of an insect where the larva is easier to find than the adult.  A quest for fresh specimens of two ‘intractable’ new species of the jaw-moth Sabatinca (Micropterigidae) over the past 12 months led me to gather bulk samples of larval habitat (periphyton: the moss and liverwort carpet over rocks, logs, tree trunks etc) at the most appropriate time of year from the known larval site; place it in emergence cages, and await emergences. Early detective work to ascertain foodplants, locality and season are an essential part of the strategy.   Conclusion: there is still a place for natural history investigations in modern biology.


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