Outreach at Okanagan Lake Provincial Park

Welcome to another rendition of my BIObus Blog where you will hear stories about our amazing adventure in Canada’s Wild West!

So after a successful, and somewhat tedious, adventure in Grasslands National Park of Canada, we made our way to Glacier and Revelstoke National Park where we met up with two park staff, Bryan and Sara, who led us to several great locations to deploy our Malaise traps. Many hours later, we found ourselves touring the city of Revelstoke, enjoying everything from the mountain peaks to the historic railroad built in the 1800s. From Revelstoke, we had a long day of driving the following day to Okanagan Lake Provincial Park where we did public outreach. During these events, the BIObus crew inform the public about our mission at BIO and aim to spark the interest of many young children about the “world of bugs”.

We spent a good portion of the day educating the frenetic and inquisitive little children at Okanagan Lake Provincial Park today. They seemed to be very excited to learn about our field research vehicle, or better known as the BIObus, our home away from home. Personally, I think they were very ecstatic about our insect displays, from the beautiful Luna moth to the daunting cicadas that appear to have come straight out of a horror film. Teaching the young ones various insect collection methods, such as sweep netting, seemed to be exciting for most. After blood, sweat and tears, well maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, a few children actually caught some pretty cool things sweep netting, including a vibrant and, should I say, infuriated soldier beetle (Family Cantharidae)! We had a lot of questions and raised eyebrows about our Malaise traps. We explained to people that it’s not just a weird looking tent; it’s also a unique method of catching insects. A Malaise trap essentially intercepts the flight pattern of many flying insects. Flying insects have a tendency to fly upwards and so make their way to an opening at the top of the “tent” where they meet their demise in a bottle of ethanol. At one point, Graham and I caught a few unpleasant hornets that soon succumbed to their deaths. Fortunately for us, and not so much for the hornets, we got to show the children a pinning demonstration.  All in all, today was a fun and eventful day and seeing those future entomologists put a smile on my face.

On a side note, I did manage to sneak off for a bit after our outreach to explore the South Okanagan. I was very thrilled to have finally found a California quail (Callipepla californica), a species that has been on my checklist since I was a young boy. I also managed to see some other neat wildlife including yellow bellied marmots, least chipmunks, Steller’s jay, Western wood pewee, mountain chickadee, and a very vibrantly orange weevil that I haven’t keyed out yet. I highly recommend visiting Okanagan Lake Provincial Park! What a spectacular place it is!