Lakeside in Jasper National Park

Today we chose to do some hand collecting at a place called Talbot Lake, in Jasper National Park. It was a rare sunny day in the Rockies and we took our nets and swept the dunes around the lake. It was a successful day, plenty of bright indigo damselflies and helicopter damselflies chasing each other on the shores of the lake. My accomplishment of the day was snatching one out of the air with my bare hand!

Flower fly feeding on dandelion nectar, Jasper National Park
View of Talbot and Jasper lake from hill, Jasper National Park

There were also many hover flies (Family: Syrphidae) showing off their expert flying maneuvering around the lakeside vegetation. As their common name eludes, these flies can hover perfectly still during flight, making them tricky to collect because they will often disappear against a complex background of leaves. Another common name given to them are flower flies because they are pollinators. Some are very convincing mimics of hymenopterans, often with yellow and black banding on their abdomens to trick predators into thinking that they can deliver a painful sting. This is known as Batesian mimicry, and I find it to be particularly fascinating, especially when it is so convincing that it can fool most (except entomologists) at a glance.

After we were satisfied with our catches, we decided to hike to the top of a steep hill overlooking the lake. When we arrived at the top, we were awe-struck by the spectacular view of the lake and mountains below.  Despite our sore legs, it was an epic end to a long day in the field.