Transcript: How Rita de Cassia Pessotti used iNaturalist to find beetle galleries in the wild

Rita de Cassia Pessotti: So, even though I’m a biologist, I have like, collected ants during my Ph.D. Actually, I have never seen so far, like, the beetles galleries in nature.

So, I went on this trip, like, not knowing what to look for, you know, but then I was learning on the way. I found an app called iNaturalist that anyone can download on their phones. And then, it’s pretty cool because like, whenever you see like an animal or a plant, can take a picture and log in, say, hey, I found this animal here in this spot. So, I just searched for the name of this beetle, Bessbug, and then I found all the places all over the eastern North America where this beetle was seen before. So, it’s just like following the screens during my trip, right? And then I also got to talk to some people from those Apps. So, you can actually reach out to the person that posted and talk to them. So, I was talking to them to get some, like, tips on how to find these galleries in the environment.

So, in the beginning it was pretty difficult to find those galleries in environment, but then I learned how to spot them. Right? So like, it’s a specific — so it’s always like, actually I have seen like small, both small, medium and large logs. They’re always like laying on the ground. You don’t need to go super further in the forest. Actually, you can find some on the trail, like next to the trails. So they are like, sitting on the ground and, like, the best tip was to look for frass around the log. So the frass, as we said, it’s a very important material in this system and they are really abundant. So, they fill all the galleries inside the logs. And, you see, when there is a beetle in the log, you see some frass around. So this was the first hint, okay, probably there is a beetle in there, right? Then, sometimes, when you roll the log, you can see some beetles underneath the logs. They can crawl underneath because they think it’s cooler.

It’s pretty easy to open the log because it’s like decaying, rotting log. So it’s very easy, it’s not a problem for me to open up the log. So, you open it up and then right away you’re going to see all those galleries filled with frass and all the beetles and larvae walking within the tunnels. So, they look like tunnels within the logs.

Read the full story: “How antibiotic-filled poop helps ‘bessbug’ beetles stay healthy.”