50 regional and remote schools embark on mission to uncover new insect species

Bug image

Fifty regional and remote schools across South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia have been selected to take part in a new citizen science project, Insect Investigators, led by the South Australian Museum and supported by the University of Adelaide.

The project, which launched in September 2021, will connect regional and remote school students with researchers to document their local insect biodiversity and discover new insects in their area.

Participating schools are required to set up a Malaise trap, a tent-like structure that catches flying insects, and monitor their findings for a four-week period commencing March 1, 2022.

The specimens will be sorted, DNA barcoded and sent to expert scientists who will identify and research the insects to help build on the knowledge of Australia’s insect species.

Dr Erinn Fagan-Jeffries, project manager, Honorary Researcher at the South Australian Museum and Postdoctoral Fellow with The University of Adelaide, said she had been overwhelmed by the level of interest from schools wanting to participate in the inaugural year of Insect Investigators.

“We are so excited by the demand for this project, with nearly 200 schools applying for the 50 places,” she said.

“It is great to see that the successful schools are well dispersed across the three states, including Mornington Island in Queensland, the central desert region of South Australia, and the Kimberly region in Western Australia.”

Over the next few weeks, Insect Investigator team members will be running workshops with the school students to inspire them to become junior entomologists for the year and help them prepare to set-up their insect trap in early March.

“We can’t wait to work with students to survey the insects at their school, and maybe even find some new species.” Dr Fagan-Jeffries, the University of Adelaide.

“Even if your school is not receiving a Malaise trap this time around, there are still plenty of ways to document insects in your area,” she added.

“Teachers can assist students to find insects and upload images of them to iNaturalist, an online citizen science portal with an engaged community of people who will help to identify the insects in the images,” she said.

Updates and findings from the Malaise traps will be regularly posted on the Insect Investigators website. A wide range of resources are also available on the website to help teachers bring insect biodiversity into the classroom.

Insect Investigators received grant funding from the Australian Government, led by the South Australian Museum and involves 17 partner organisations.

About the South Australian Museum

The Museum cares for a wealth of treasures with national and international significance – it is admired for its world class collections, which have been amassed over more than 150 years and encompass everything from fossils of the first known life on Earth to pieces of Martian meteorites. The Museum’s collections are still growing and used each day in scientific and cultural research.

See below for a list of participating schools. A media kit with images is also available.

South Australia:

  • Ceduna Area School
  • Crystal Brook Primary School
  • Elliston Area School
  • Encounter Lutheran College Victor Harbor
  • Faith Lutheran College Tanunda
  • Kangaroo Island Community Education
  • Kingston Community School
  • Koonibba Aboriginal School
  • Loxton North School
  • Mimili Anangu School
  • Rendelsham Primary
  • Roxby Downs Area School
  • Sandy Creek Primary
  • Streaky Bay Area School
  • Trinity College Gawler
  • Wallaroo Mines Primary School
  • Yalata Anangu School

Western Australia:

  • Allanson Primary School
  • Babakin Primary School
  • Boddington District High School
  • Derby District High School
  • Denmark Primary School
  • East Kimberly College & Kununurra School
  • Esperance Primary School
  • Kalgoorlie Primary School
  • Kalumburu Remote Community School
  • North Tom Price Primary School
  • Peg’s Creek School
  • Pingrup Primary School
  • Shark Bay School
  • South Newman Primary School
  • Southern Hills Christian College
  • Spirit of Play Community School

Queensland:

  • Back Plains State School
  • Beerwah State High School
  • Belgian Gardens State School
  • Blackall State School
  • Cameron Downs State School
  • Columba Catholic College
  • Gin Gin State High School
  • Glenden State School
  • Kogan State School
  • Mornington Island State School
  • Mount Molloy State School
  • Prospect Creek State School
  • Springsure State School
  • St Patrick’s Catholic School, Winton
  • Tamborine Mountain State School
  • Yeppoon State High School
  • Yeronga State School

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