Friday, July 18, 2008

Part II, Day 2: 080628

Three of my companions on this trip have already been travelling extensively in a specialized RV owned by the Biodiversity Institute. They are tasked with collecting primarily Lepidoptera (especially moths), Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies), and Ephemeroptera (mayflies), Plecoptera (stoneflies), and Trichoptera (caddisflies) (the latter three together are referred to as “EPTs”). The most efficient way to collect moths, most of which are nocturnal, is to set up a light trap at night. There are a range of designs, but one of the simplest is a white sheet suspended vertically, with a bright light. Moths and other nocturnal insects are attracted by the light and land on the sheet, where they are easily picked off into killing jars or ethanol or whatever.

Moth collecting is a late-night activity, not surprisingly. My alarm at 7:30 am this morning was not appreciated by my companions, as they had been up until about 3:00 am collecting, pinning, and data basing specimens. Had I known their usual routine involves late nights and late mornings, I would not have defaulted into a similar mode to the schedule Matt and I were keeping in the USA. Oops, sorry guys. Anyways, waking up early and letting everyone else sleep in (an unusual situation for me) gave me the opportunity to get some collecting done during daylight hours, in a small creek that empties into Lake Superior. I found no amphipods, but among the sand and thin layer of algae I found some nice beetles and a few corixids. My collecting does not involve lights at night, rather I like to have the sun shining over my shoulder as I peer down into my net, looking for the distinctive crawl of amphipods emerging from aquatic vegetation.

Harmony Beach, looking South towards the mouth of the Goulais River. This photo was taken in late morning, after my companions had arisen. It feels very odd for me to be viewed as a morning person.

We drove North and West on highway 17, passing through some rather heavy fog and frequent rain. The landscape here is very distinctive from that of both southern Ontario and all of the places in the USA I have visited recently.

I took this photo from the passenger seat of our van, cruising along highway 17 about 100 kilometres North and West of Sault Ste. Marie. The RV in the middle distance belongs to the Biodiversity Institute.

We ended the day in Pukaskwa National Park, apparently a park with very low visitation rates, at least by humans. Despite it being a 4-day weekend for many people (Canada Day is Tuesday), the campground is nearly empty. Well, empty of Homo sapiens. The populations of various species of genera Culex, Anopheles, Aedes, and other Culicids are large and vigorous. I have accumulated many mosquito bites already.

Tomorrow we’ll stay here, and I’ll collect from the small Halfway Lake that lies very near the campground. It will be nice to not have to get up and immediately pack for travel.

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