One Final Blog Post

Hello everyone, we’re back from the East coast, and what a time it was! In case you didn’t know, I’ve wanted to be a field entomologist since I was in grade two, so this was just a dream job for me. I never imagined I would be doing something like this, and that I would get paid for it! This was also my first taste of research contributing to real world scientific advancement, and that was unbelievable. Just being allowed to roam freely in these beautiful national parks collecting bugs was amazing, but to actually be adding to something that will likely change the entire field of biology, oh jeeze. I digress, though, and I’ll start talking about what I got out of the whole experience, and what I hope to have given.

Katelyn Lutes, Martin Zlatkin and Graham Ansell returning to the bus, surrounded by the beauty of Cape Breton.
Katelyn Lutes, Martin Zlatkin and Graham Ansell returning to the bus, surrounded by the beauty of Cape Breton.

First and foremost, I learned a heck of a lot about bugs. Martin and Katelyn have already taken the third year insect identification course at Guelph, and Agata has years of field experience behind her, so I was pretty much immediately thrust into a really experienced group of people. The crew was really great, helping me get up to speed on everything, and not getting too upset when I thought all the Trichopterans were Lepidopterans. Having recently taken a general invertebrate course, I was able to supply some help with the non-insect groups, so I didn’t come totally unprepared. I learned about insects quickly though, and I’m confident now that I can I.D. down to some pretty obscure orders. From what I’ve been told, I have a bit of a head start for Guelph’s identification course.

Interacting with the public was also very rewarding. It’s great to see kids faces light up when you tell them that, yes, they can go catch some bugs with the sweep net, then show them all that they’ve caught. Pretty much everybody who showed up to our outreach events got interested with the subject matter, sometimes with a little convincing; nothing attracts grade seven boys more than morbid stories about copulation. I’m talking about bees, of course. The public was great, but the crew was even better. First of all, I’d like to commend us all for not trying to kill each other by the end. Even married couples usually get a bit of a break from each other during work, am I right? 24/7 exposure to the same three other people can get pretty strenuous after a while, but I think we did very well, and became a closely knit group because of it. It really wouldn’t have been the same trip without them.

Graham Ansell discovering the miniature world inside a log on East Branch Trail, Fundy National Park, NB.
Graham Ansell discovering the miniature world inside a log on East Branch Trail, Fundy National Park, NB.

In regards to my future plans, this experience has just proven to strengthen my resolve that I am doing what I want to do. There’s a great thrill when you find a huge moth on a nightsheet, or when you find a really rare order hiding in a pile of leaves, or even just coming across a larva that happens to look like an alien baby. Every time I peeled back a piece of bark, or took a look under the microscope, I was immersed in a beautiful world that not many people get to see, and I do feel very privileged. I have no doubt that this is what I want to do with my life, even with the limited shower and clothes washing opportunities. I’ll always treasure this summer and everything I’ve experienced as one of the best things I’ve ever done. That feeling, among other things, tells me that I am doing what is right for me, and I hope to do it for the rest of my life.

– Graham

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