I was out in the Issaquah Alps doing some puppy training yesterday and decided to bring my bug-collecting stuff along. Mostly it was an excuse to get more practice with my new microscope and test out a new system for holding bugs I’ve sorted to photograph. Previously, I’ve had some sensitive specimens quickly die after being sorted into their own separate containers or compartments, either because the water warms up more quickly in the compartments or the oxygen runs out. This leads to specimens that aren’t in ideal shape for photos. To solve the problem, I drilled holes in an ice cube tray and gorilla glued some little squares of 250-micron Nitex mesh (drift sampling net material) to the outside. Then I stick the whole thing in a tub of aerated water with a freezer block. This allows me to separate different types of bugs into lots of compartments, while still having them aerated and cooled from a common, larger reservoir of water.
It worked great. Some typically fragile Baetids and Heptageniids stayed in good shape for a very long time, more than long enough to take photos. I didn’t photograph any of the Heptageniids, though, because they were Cinygmula and Rhithrogena nymphs for which there are no species keys available.
My favorite new addition was Claassenia sabulosa, a very pretty golden stonefly nymph.
There were also a lot of Hesperoperla pacifica nymphs in the sample, but I already have good photos of those.