Marsh Vacuum? Marsh Vacuum

An enormous component of what creatures live in the salt marsh are tiny insects and speedy spiders.  Because of this, we have developed a highly technical method of catching things like mites, spiders, flies, grasshoppers, amphipods, or beetles– a giant marsh vacuum!

The Marsh Suction Sampler is simply a Stihl leaf blower with a vacuum attachment placed on the air intake valve. The end of this attachment, made from a flower pot, is lined with fabric (muslin cloth or tulle work the best) to collect all the animals that are sucked up.  Once the whole plot is sampled, we take the cloth off and place it into a Ziplock.  Then we take the sample back to the lab and, under a microscope, count and identify all of the bugs that we sucked up.

Below are a couple of pictures from that first sample.  We found high total abundances and a great diversity of bug-types including ferocious but minuscule spider predators, scavenging beetles, excited crickets, biting gnats, spastic flies, and (my personal favorite) the beautiful red velvet mite





Suction sample from Squantum marsh

Suction sample from Squantum marsh

A second sample of the insect community of Squantum Marsh

A second sample of the insect community of Squantum Marsh


Welcome to Marsh Life!

Hello and welcome to! If you live near the marsh, like the marsh, want to know more about the marsh, or have ever seen a marsh, then you have come to the right place.

Here at Marsh Life, we are a group of marine biologists who are trying to figure out what makes the marsh tick, what the marsh does for us, and what we can do for the marsh.

This blog will tell stories about the creatures that live in the marsh (like crabs and snails), visit the marsh every day (like fish or shrimp), or just stop by every once in a while for a quick meal (like osprey or egrets).

Along the way we will reveal some of the most innovative and creative techniques to sample marsh life (such as The Marsh Bug Vacuum). We’ll visit some of the most famous marshes in the world (like Cape Cod and Nantucket), and some of the people studying them (scientists & managers, get ready for some Google Hangouts!). Last, we’ll share our insights and those of others as to how marshes are changing and what we can do to help them.

So sit back, and get ready to enjoy our tales of marsh life.