It has been an exciting few weeks for the CocoaPOP project.
Staff at UTT have been working alongside Samantha Forbes, a researcher from James Cook University in Australia. Samantha has extensive experience with cocoa plantations and has been helping UTT staff develop a protocol for collecting live midges in large numbers from the field and emerging adult midges in the laboratory from culture material. Samantha's efforts have yielded results and now there are sufficient adult midges to carry out laboratory behavioural experiments.
Cocoa midge collected in Trinidad. This is a Dasyhelea sp. and emerge in large numbers from one of the focal sites. (Genus confirmed by G Spinelli)
Another female Dasyhelea individual.
Chemical ecology experiments will now be taking place, looking at midge-cocoa flower interactions. We are intitially working in climate controlled laboratories using a Y-tube olfactometer, a reliable standard approch for insect chemical ecology studies.