So yesterday, for the first time, the title of this blog became literally true for me. I used fungus to kill a beetle. Just one, for now, but I’m sure things will pick up.
I’ve had a hectic month since I started my master’s. I’ve moved house, and still don’t have internet at home, which is affecting my ability to post very frequently. That should be hooked up this week though. I’ve missed the internet!
Most of what I’ve been doing has been writing. Research proposals, experimental plans, and literature reviews. Mostly a lot of planning for the large amount of writing I’ll have to keep doing for the next couple of years. I’ve also been spending time encouraging my beetle colonies to grow. You know, the usual tactics – singing songs, playing Mozart while they sleep, implying that they’ll never have self-worth if they don’t have larvae some day. All this with the eventual goal of killing them off.
I’ve had a few brief panics. There was a scary moment when I discovered a whole bunch of dead weevils in one of my beetle jars. I briefly thought that maybe I’d been the victim of some cuckoo weevil, and had been raising these impostors as my own for the previous 8 weeks, but thankfully discovered that the little bastards are getting in in the organic wheat we buy for my beetles to infest.
I’m getting used to putting on a lab coat and doing science. I still feel a bit like a fraud in the lab on my own, but I guess that’s something I’ll get used to over time.
Now I am actually running my first experiment. It’s only a trial run, to get me used to spore application and the procedures involved in this kind of thing. My samples aren’t large enough for the data to be very useful, but this sets me up for my official first experiment which will hopefully start in a couple of weeks, when I have enough beetles under my care to be able to kill a significant number off. As of yesterday, one of the dosed beetles was dead. My first victim. I am feeling some guilt over this, especially knowing that there will be thousands more before my time in this lab is up.
That’s pretty much where I’m at right now. I have many deadlines and only 24 hours in each day. I’m struggling to sort out the things I need to do from those I think I should do, and of course I’m terribly afraid of disappointing my supervisors or my peers. I am, however, very glad to be finally up and running with my master’s!