It is critical that we employ standardized operating procedures for the Malaise trapping. Our coordinated efforts will ensure specimen preservation for sequence analysis and high data quality, permitting the comparison of sites at a global scale. For global standardization with the BIOSCAN initiative, of which LIFEPLAN is a part, we have adopted all the same basic protocols as used in the Global Malaise Program. As a key difference, while in the GMP processing was done on individual arthropods, LIFEPLAN will be based on bulk processing (metabarcoding) of samples. This solution is necessary because of the enormous size of the data to be generated vs the finite resources. At the same time, there is funding to barcode at least 1,000 individual arthropods per site. Through this dedicated initiative, we will help build national reference libraries, as well as contribute to worldwide taxonomic initiatives and to barcode-based identification resources.
- Malaise trap kit including assembly instruction sheet
- 52x 500ml Collection bottles with QR codes; external and internal labels
- Pipette rubber bulbs
- Decanting lid
- Nitex filters
Equipment you provide:
- 95% or stronger ethanol, NOT denatured, for preserving samples
- Ethanol waste container
- Cooler box: styrofoam or similar
- Freezer (preferred) or refrigerator for sample storage
- Clean duster
- Aluminium foil if possible
When you receive all the equipment, first perform all the steps in the Getting Started Manual (download from the top of this page).
As our standard Malaise Traps, we use the model “ez-Malaise Trap” manufactured by MegaView Science Co. (Bugdorm), with trap design and kit contents shown at the Bugdorm and BioQuip web pages. Compared to the commercially available design, we have made a few modifications: we use Nalgene bottles and barbed tent pegs, and we have removed the "moth excluder device" (a triangular piece of cloth with small holes, used to keep out bigger insects when focusing on Diptera and Hymenoptera). The support poles at the front and back of the traps have also been upgraded to a sturdier material than in the trap kits sold online. To reduce wear by the pole ends on the cloth pockets holding them in place, we provide pipette rubber bulbs (to be mounted by the LIFEPLAN teams on the ends of the poles before sticking them into the pockets).
The trap should be placed near the center of the one-hectare sampling plot. When mounting, make sure that the collecting part of the trap (i.e. the trap head) is directed towards the equator (north in the Southern hemisphere and south in the Northern hemisphere), and that this is the highest part of the trap (i.e. avoid placing the trap on a downhill slope with the collecting part lowest) (Figure 3). This is because the trap design depends on insects moving towards the highest and lightest part of the trap. When possible, position the trap at a right angle to an insect flight line, in areas with low undergrowth; forest edges or clearings and elevated sites are recommended.
Figure 3. Positioning of Malaise trap relative to landscape edge and southerly direction
Consider possibilities of wildlife disturbance and/or human vandalism – try to avoid either scenario as much as possible; the trap may be relocated if consistent issues persist after deployment. Ensure that all proper specimen collecting permissions are obtained (i.e. from local authorities, property owners, etc.).
Fill one collection bottle 3 / 5 full (~300ml) with 95% ethanol at the time of deployment. Do not substitute with other kinds of alcohol or other preservatives. If possible, wrap the bottle in aluminium foil to protect from the sun. If you find in the following weeks that the ethanol tends to evaporate, increase the amount. If you get so much insect mass that the bottle overflows, decrease the amount.
After arriving at your field site, assemble the trap securely, according to the Malaise trap instruction sheet. When possible, tie the front and/or back ropes to nearby trees for added support. Also, if available, attach the trap poles to a 6- to 8-foot stake or post at its highest points to protect the trap against falling over from high winds, especially if it is placed in an exposed area. For further assembly instructions see the YouTube video on this page.
Attach the QR code sticker to the tent pole - see the second YouTube video on this page.
Tightly affix the prepared collection bottle to the trap head; tie the white ropes on the trap around the bottle to secure it. Begin the collection on a day of the week you can consistently return to for the duration of the sampling period.
Collection & Monitoring
Collect the catch once a week during the insect activity period (i.e. during non-freezing temperatures). Remove the catch on the same day each week. Use the LIFEPLAN app to scan the QR code on the trap, and then the QR code on the bottle you are about to insert. When collecting the previous sample, wipe the trap head with a clean duster, to avoid dead insects remaining between weeks. Then screw on the new bottle with ethanol for the next sample.
Visit the trap frequently if you can to monitor for and repair damage, and to avoid sample overflow. In particular, check the trap after strong winds or heavy rain. In the event of damage, malfunction or other concerns contact email@example.com for maintenance suggestions and replacement parts.
When in the field, store the sample in a shaded cooler, shielded from light. When back from the field, ideally, place the samples in a standard household freezer (i.e. -20°C) for storage. Ensure that the entire insect mass is fully submerged in ethanol before storage; add fresh ethanol to the sample bottle if needed.
If a freezer is unavailable, store the samples in a refrigerator or cool, dark location. This is critical to preserve the DNA in the samples; improper storage will result in DNA degradation rendering samples unusable for DNA sequencing (e.g. under constant light, heat or variable temperatures).
Just before shipment, decant off most of the ethanol from each bottle using the decanting lid and nitex filters provided. Thoroughly rinse the nitex filter between samples.
There is a 30ml ethanol maximum per container for shipment and a maximum total of 1L ethanol per package as per International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations. To follow this protocol, drain the ethanol right down to the insect mass. Shipping 26 samples at a time is recommended. Make sure each bottle is tightly sealed and place them into a plastic bag before packaging in a box.
Dispatch samples to the Centre of Biodiversity Genomics, Guelph, Canada using cardboard boxes of appropriate size. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further shipment instructions.
The first batch of samples should be shipped to CBG after 26 weeks of collecting. Use the checklist below to prepare your outgoing package.
- Notify email@example.com, cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, that you are ready to ship a package; indicate the number of samples you will include and confirm shipping costs.
- Please send a photo of the Malaise trap and its surrounding habitat to email@example.com be used for media purposes
- Determine export requirements from country of origin; obtain all proper permits if needed (Canada does not require import documents for scientific specimens)
- Prepare the samples for shipment immediately before shipping: decant most of the ethanol from each bottle using the materials provided (see instructions above) and close each bottle tightly to avoid leakage
- Place samples in large plastic bag(s) before packaging them into an appropriate sized box
- Make sure to put a zero (or any permissible minimum) value on the customs declaration form as the samples have no commercial value
For the customs declaration, please write 'Insect Specimens for Scientific Study Only (dead), No Commercial Value'
- Because the package will contain some ethanol, place the "Scientific Research Specimens" stickers provided on the outside of the package
Address the package to the following:
Kate Perez - Sample Submission
University of Guelph
Biodiversity Institute of Ontario
50 Stone Road East
Phone: 519-824-4120 x56393