Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 55–65 | Cite as

A burning desire for smoke? Sampling insects favoured by forest fire in the absence of fire

  • Per Milberg
  • Karl-Olof Bergman
  • Henrik Norman
  • Roger B. Pettersson
  • Lars Westerberg
  • Lars-Ove Wikars
  • Nicklas Jansson


Fire-favoured insects are difficult to sample except opportunistically after forest fires. Here, we tested if smoke from a small fire could be an efficient way to sample such insects. Insects were sampled over ca. 10 h hours, by hand-picking and netting on screens put up around the fire. Two specimens of the rare and redlisted Hormopeza spp. (Diptera, Empididae) were caught. Large numbers (>20,000) of Microsania spp. (Diptera, Platypezidae) were caught, but none in the absence of smoke. The numbers of Microsania spp. clearly peaked in late afternoon, and a short sampling period would be sufficient if targeting only this taxon. Of the almost 200 species of Coleoptera, 17 % were considered as fire-favoured, contributing 9 % of the specimens, suggesting low efficiency of the method for this group. Using 23 sites differing in fire history, catches of Microsania spp. were unaffected by numbers and area of forest fire (preceding 5 years and within 10 km radius over the sampling sites). In contrast, there was a weak trend for the proportion of fire-favoured Coleoptera to increase with increasing number of fires. To conclude, smoke as produced in our study can clearly attract fire-favoured Diptera, but smoke had only a weak effect on fire-favoured Coleoptera in the study area. It is still likely that selectively picking specimens of species attracted to smoke is a more cost-efficient method than using, e.g., Malaise traps that catch indiscriminately.


Coleoptera Diptera Netting Opportunistic Sampling method Sweden 



We thank Rickard Andersson and Stig Lundberg (identification of Coleoptera), Ingemar Struwe (identification of Dipteria), Usman Muhammadi (help in the laboratory), Klas Andersson (fire data), Fia Sundin (GIS data), and Linnea Norman (illustration). Financial support was provided by the County Administrative Board of Östergötland.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Per Milberg
    • 1
  • Karl-Olof Bergman
    • 1
  • Henrik Norman
    • 1
  • Roger B. Pettersson
    • 2
  • Lars Westerberg
    • 1
  • Lars-Ove Wikars
    • 3
  • Nicklas Jansson
    • 1
  1. 1.IFM Biology, Conservation Ecology GroupLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden
  2. 2.Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental StudiesSLUUmeåSweden
  3. 3.BorlängeSweden

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