Penang Hill BioBlitz Argonaut Update — Hannah Heaster

Student Argonaut Hannah Heaster is from Salem, West Virgnia and is a student in Doddridge County Schools. She shared her journal entry from the second week of the Penang Hill BioBlitz, when the team joined entomologist Dr. Keith Bayless as he hunted for flies on the beach.

Student Argonaut Hannah Heaster

On this amazing journey we took a detour to the beach with Dr. Keith Bayless, the fly scientist! We are searching for a very rare fly species that lurk in Pandanus trees.

Entomologist Dr. Keith Bayless sporting a JASON cap

Keith introduced a method that safely catches flies in a net for later observation and comparison. First, he gave us a tutorial on how to properly capture the flies. He first used a net. Some are circular and some are in a diamond shape. Then he swooped the net in a figure eight pattern throughout the leaves of the Pandanus tree. This method ensured that the flies would be easily caught, sucked into an aspirator, and distributed into a vial for later observation. Luckily we already have one of the very rare flies in possession!

Teacher Argonauts Carly Imhoff and Hannah Cotten capturing flies

While we were taking pictures and searching for new species, another group down the beach saw a few long tailed macaque monkeys! We all rushed over in excitement to capture a photo of the cute monkeys. At least they were cute until we realized they were ripping through the backpacks we left sitting on the trail. We quickly ran back to the trail just in time to see that the monkeys were rummaging through our belongings.

Macaques stole the Argo’s med kit

As we were pulling out cameras to capture this exhilarating moment, Hannah Cotten started walking towards our bags. Just then, a baby monkey from above jumped straight down and missed Hannah by a hair! As we all let out a loud scream and darted the opposite direction we spotted a monkey in the tree carrying a bag of snacks while munching on some of my goldfish! Turns out we reached our goal of collecting exactly what Keith needed, and my bag and Jude’s bag were the only ones that the mischievous monkeys got into!

Overall, my only disappointment is that the monkeys stole my last bag of cashews.

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