Life Hacks for naturalists

King Phil Came Over For Grape Soda

I learned it as “King Phillip Came Over For Group Sex”, lol.

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Someone in one of my high school science classes came up with “Kiss Professor Clump Over Fat Gummy Stomach” and… Well it’s unique enough that I remember it 14 years later lol :)

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Also, make sure to chime in here if you haven’t already:

https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/any-nature-sketching-enthusiasts-out-there/1536/9

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Get a Raynox macro lens. They have a universal fit so should work with just about any other lens. They attach to your std lens with a tension spring so to take it off you just pinch the release buttons (almost like a peg) and its off in a second. I dedicate one super clean pocket with a microfibre cloth in it as the spot to just shove the lens when I have to move fast. Great value for money, I can’t recommend them highly enough.

http://www.raynox.co.jp/english/digital/d_slr/index.html

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Another cable tie/ zap strap/ zip tie fix for our binoculars. The strap on the binocs kept coming undone to the point almost dropping them. Likely they were not threaded correctly but these cable tie brakes will help.

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That sounds a lot better than the turpentine I was often forced to wash my hair with as a child to remove the pine sap!

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Recently was on a birding tour where at night we would go over the group checklist. Older eyes and lack of everyone having headlamps made this a bit of a challenge. One solution was ambient light from a hack using one flashlight, one water bottle, one elastic band, and one serviette as a diffuser.

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It’s not that hard to do, the main trick is to be as quick as possible and carry both lenses with their “inner” glass looking down, that way dust won’t fall on it while it’s opened.

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What is a good way to safely pick up a small spider (without killing it but with out getting bitten to) in order to observe it more closely?

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I usually use a glass and a piece of paper. Cover the spider or insect with the glass and slide the paper under the glass and subject. Flip the glass and paper over and hey presto. I call it a “karma cup” for releasing things outside.

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That’s what I do, too. Unless it’s really tiny. Then try an insect aspirator (Google it).

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AKA a pooter. Wikipedia article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspirator_(entomology)

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Built myself a “pooter” for bumble bee collection with moderate success but need to find a better container that give better optics for photography… a work in progress. I think the neighbours must be wondering…

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Not too much of a Fungi observer but did notice a recent thread that has a sidebar relating to disturbing mushrooms for the purpose of better identification by looking at the underside. Some are concerned about the next person to come along will not have the same viewing enjoyment.

Thought that possibly this hack would help plus have you carrying an emergency signalling mirror :)
Chopsticks (see earlier hack), elastic (see earlier hack), compact mirror


It was raining so I did not spend too much time looking for mushrooms but thought you would get the idea here.

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If you want a good life hack to get closer shots I would recommend getting petri dishes to catch insects in for up close shots without losing your target. A friend of mine taught me how to use a dish for macro shots and I have a ton I bought from Amazon and use them all the time. That is the best life hack I can give. It is a better way of getting closer to your target. Just a word of warning keep observation time to a minimum.

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Just curious, for a beginner what would be the best way to make a home-made pitfall trap?

Plastic cups, such as Solo cups, are cheap and easy to install. You can place one removable cup inside a second which is buried in the ground up to rim.

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Ok, ty!

If you are hoping to pitfall trap invertebrates, it is good to put some wire mesh over the trap to stop small mammals falling in. Of course if the mesh is too fine, it keeps out most of the invertebrates too.

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In addition to solo cups, you can purchase 2 liter soda bottles, dump out the soda, then cut off the upper portion of the bottle and invert the top into the bottom of the bottle, so that the inverted top forms a funnel. this way you won’t need to worry so much about vertebrates getting in or picking off trapped insects thru an open top (although use of a cap rock can negate that as well). You do lose the advantage that @jnstuart indicated, of having a cup in the ground that another fits into, thus allowing you to remove the nested cup to check out your insects w/o disturbing the set of first one.
as @bobmcd and others mentioned, an aspirator for small or hard to get at insects is a very handy tool. i was cautioned to make sure there was a filter included (in-line fuel filters work well) so that you do not inhale any spores or other undesirables. The story was that a person spent some time in caves aspirating springtails and other inverts off of scat, and ended up with things growing in his sinuses. Whether true or not, i’ve since used an in-line filter…
Lastly, i’ve spent some time inventorying lava tubes, including tubes w some very narrow spaces such that daypacks are not feasible to carry. I needed something that was tight to my body that would house camera, vials, GPS unit, spare batteries, etc, so i wouldn’t have to fumble around trying to remember which pocket one item or another was in, especially in tight passages where you can’t really sit up. I have found ‘tactical chest rigs’ such as law enforcement or national guard may use to fit the bill well. The one i use is the Condor Tactical Rapid Assault Rig, and it has greatly reduced my fumbling around for things. The mag pouches are perfect fits for GPS and camera, the map pouch fits batteries, vials, notebook, etc, and pencils and sharpies can be stowed in the elastic mole straps, and it’s all right there on my chest.

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