Study of northern Ontario insects aims to help increase food production
TIMMINS -- Northern Ontario is well known for its abundance of bugs.
Now, researchers from southern Ontario are curious to know more about our insects for several reasons, including being part of a larger project to increase food production.
A team from the University of Guelph has set a number of fly traps and is collecting samples.
Tents are being set up in northern Ontario's boreal forest. Known as a 'malaise' tent, it's used to trap insects.
Junior research technician Emily Kyle said they're trying to catch flying insects.
"So they fly into the sides of the trap and then they fly up into the bottle and fall back down into the alcohol bottle," Kyle said. "It traps them.”
Researchers are venturing north because they say there's nothing original left in the south's mixed-wood plains due to urbanization. They say the north is less impacted by humans, which will allow them to do a comparison.
Dirk Steinke, of the University of Guelph, said the goal is to understand the diversity of the bugs in this part of Ontario.
"That’s why we chose particular sites, or particular regions," Steinke said. "We’re tying to understand how much impact we humans already had on these species.”
Kyle said she comes to town every two weeks to collect samples.
"We’ll see what this one has in this sample today," she said. "There’s a lot of flies, moths, and butterflies today, but it’s different every time I come back."
There are 45 tents set up throughout northeastern Ontario. They're in urban locations, provincial parks and areas that have had trees harvested.
"We’re trying to identify everything that is in one of those bottles by using DNA-based methods," Steinke said.
"So there’s a small section of the genome that’s characteristic for each species and then we can tell what types of animals were trapped at the particular time there.”
Officials said some insects can tell us things about the health of the environment.
The project is also part of a bigger program called Food From Thought, a University of Guelph research project looking to develop solutions to improve agricultural production.
The sampling began in May and runs until October.