ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — Once a year, the park recruits dozens of volunteers to embark on what kind of amounts to a biological treasure hunt.
What the volunteers search for changes from year to year, but it is usually involves insects, not treasure. The goal of the so-called ‘bio blitzes’ is to collect as many different samples of a type of insect as possible, to create a time-specific profile of what kind of bugs live in Acadia.
Normally, the blitzes are held on park land on the Schoodic peninsula on the eastern side of Frenchman Bay, where past collecting efforts have targeted ants, bees and wasps. This weekend, July 14 and 15, the goal was to collect aquatic insects both on Mount Desert Island, where most of Acadia is located, and at Schoodic.
For the 10th annual blitz, approximately 70 people split into five groups and fanned out Saturday across MDI to visit roughly 40 sites.
David Manski, head of Acadia’s resource management division, said Saturday that the most recent concerted effort to document the presence of insects on MDI was done by William Proctor, a naturalist who published seven volumes of his findings in 1946.
“We’re going back to his locations,” Manski said. “The goal is to document as many species as we can in each particular habitat. It’s a snapshot.”
Manski said that, over the past decade, the bio blitzes have netted more than 1,600 insect species in the park, of which more than 500 had not been documented in Acadia before. Nine total insect species collected during the previous nine bio blitzes had not been scientifically documented to be in Maine until they were caught in the park, he said.
Manski said the bio blitzes also help park officials keep track of invasive species.
“There’s not much we can do about it, but we now know they are here,” he said, just prior to Saturday’s search efforts getting under way.
Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.