The Sand Pit
Obviously something needed to be done at home to observe just what the heck was going on, and a large four sided glass ‘aquarium’ was glued up from glass laying about the place. This was laid on top of an old sheet of flat iron, with holes punched in it, to allow water drainage at the base and filled with sand from the dunes.
Small containers of wet sand (from the low tide zone) were then sunk into it flush with the surface of the sand, complete with SSL ‘interred’ within. The top was covered with a removable sliding aluminium mesh frame to prevent any hatching Beetles from escaping and also keep predators out.
There was quite a bend in the glass exerted from the sand’s weight, so a notched board was laid on top of the glass at the centre, and another at an end where the silicone glue was sparsely applied due to the fact I nearly ran out. This would arrest any further movement causing the glass to shatter.
A fairly scabrous picture perhaps,- however this is a somewhat impromptu ‘beach dune’ rapidly constructed one morning at home to accommodate the ocean-side mariners.
Of course numerous buckets of sand were collected from a suitable area of the dunes and heaved back home in the back of the Thames 800 van. These were tossed into the pit unceremoniously and levelled out,… …then the entire contents were shovelled back out again!?!!
The sand needed to be sieved! If other larva were already in there, then the whole experiment would be in vain. We can’t have foreign larva accidentally introduced and as it was I did found one, a tiny 5 mm long. I ‘borrowed’ just a few native plants from the beach and a half bucketful of stick debris and seaweed bits from the high tide area and dug them in.
I then sprinkled chopped up seaweeds on the surface for any nocturnal feasts in the open air. (The plants will be returned to the beach when the studies are finished) The sand in the bottom half of the pit was thoroughly wetted before the remainder was placed on top.