Our second destination was Wood Buffalo National Park. Upon arriving we made several discoveries about life in the Northwest Territories: 1) The locals are the most friendly and accommodating people we had yet to meet. 2) Despite our far northern location, the heat was outrageous! 3) The mosquitoes are BRUTAL and we arrived at the beginning of their summer-long blood feast. 4) Sleeping would prove to be tricky with only a few hours of semi-darkness.
The park is a massive expanse of taiga forest, salt plains, and marsh with many furry and feathered friends roaming around, sometimes right in front of our bus when it came to the bison herds with calves in tow, and the curious/bold black bear.
We also arrived at the beginning of dragonfly emergence, in sync with the mosquitoes that they feed on. Dozens of these spectacular flyers swooped around us as we hiked to our sites, and unfortunately many were casualties to the front of our bus. Several locals in the town of Fort Smith seemed keen to learn about our research and asked us a lot of questions. We soon found that we were local celebrities in the quiet little community and when we walked into any store, the people often addressed us as the “bugologists”. Our fifteen minutes of fame!