Method II. "Canopy"

This technique consists of climbing a tree and collect phasmids in the canopy.

Basic equipment needed:

  • Water-proof headlamp and batteries. Additional hand lamp with batteries.
  • A cross-bow or sling with a long (at least 50 metres) and stable nylon-cord.
  • Plenty of climbing equipment (ropes, a climbing-belt, gloves, a helmet and safety-glasses).
  • Butterfly net.
  • White awnings.
  • Plenty of differently sized plastic containers.
  • GPS or smartphone with an App to take coordinates.

Summary of the workflow for this method:

  • Explore the area during the daytime to be more familiar with it and find trees with signs of phytophagous activity.
  • Once a tree is chosen, take coordinates and set up the climbing equipment.
  • Start searching phasmids.
  • When finding a phasmid, take pictures if possible.
  • Collect the phasmid, some leaves of the plant where it was (especially if was feeding on it) and put them carefully in the plastic container.

Detailed information:

Many species (most of the small, well-flying species and e.g. Phyllium) seem to live high up in the treetops, also termed canopy, of the tropical forest in heights of more than 20-50 metres. These regions of the world´s tropical rain forests are still very poorly studied. Whoever wants to collect these species is in the urgent need of a different collecting method.

The following method is not recommended for inexperienced collectors, as a lot of climbing-practice and plenty of money for the equipment are needed. In addition, it is of course quite dangerous to climb into the canopy regions of the forest. Hence, this method is here only briefly described.

Searching the canopy region for phasmids can be done as follows. At daytime or during the night (for the latter a very strong lamp is recommended, e.g. Surefire M3T) a tree is searched which undoubtedly exhibits phytophagous activity (e.g. leaves showing damage). Doing this at night seems to be more sufficient, as phasmids are much easier located than during the daytime (see Method I). The tree is then marked, to ensure it is found the next day in order to be investigated with the necessary equipment.

To reach the canopy a strong nylon-cord is shot over a suitable, strong branch with the help of a cross-bow or a strong sling. This nylon-cord is then used to fix a climbing-rope onto the branch. This is repeated until enough ropes are fixed to ensure safe climbing. Afterwards, the climbing-belt and other equipment are fixed to the main rope – the ascension can begin. One should take care of the used branches being strong enough to hold at least the collectors body weight and fractions of twigs and branches which might fall onto the collectors head. For this case, the use of a climbing-helmet is recommended. Once arrived in the canopy, further ropeways are prepared and the vegetation is carefully searched with a butterfly net. In addition, it is of advantage to place white awnings below the investigated tree, in order to ensure insects which fall down to be easily located.

This collecting technique is perhaps not as sufficient as “Method I” and much more costly but therefore many species may be collected which are not be found on low growing plants at night. However, due to the high costs and large-scale of technical equipment, this technique is only worthwhile for scientists searching for new and very rare species. Every year, in the tropics uncountable insects species are found, which are still new to science.