Category Archives: Team Knife

Team Knife in Cambridge Bay

From Laura Timms on behalf of Team Knife; they’ve returned to the south since this update was written:
Team Knife is half way through our last stop for the summer: Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Cambridge Bay is located on the southern end of Victoria Island, on the Queen Maud gulf in the Northwest Passage of the Arctic Ocean. When we arrived on July 6th the Bay was still covered in ice but with all the sun and ‘excessive heat’ (17 C the day we arrived) it has been quickly melting. In fact the last large pieces of ice disappeared yesterday while we were out collecting. Cambridge Bay is home to an old DEW line station and soon to be home to a new federal government funded High Arctic Research Station.

"Excessive heat"??!?!


Research station

Our work here is going very well – we have finished our first servicing of the traps, the vegetation protocol, two sweep samples, and 10 of the 12 aquatic sites. Our traps have been full of spiders, beetles, crane flies, midges, and all sorts of smaller things that we can’t wait to go through back home under the microscopes. Patrick has been especially good at spotting cocoons and caterpillars of the arctic woolly bear (Gynaephora groenlandica) on the tundra. This species can take up to seven years to complete its life cycle, cramming as much eating and growing into the short arctic summer as it can before going into dormancy for the rest of the year. Some of the cocoons we have found are full of puparia of tachinid flies instead of the moth – these parasitoids lay their eggs inside the caterpillars and consume them from the inside out, emerging just before the caterpillar pupates. Laura is currently rearing the cocoons in our hotel room, hoping to get some adult moths and parasitoids for our collection.
We have also had encounters with some of the larger fauna around here, having spotted several chatty arctic foxes, some muskoxen, a lemming, a seal on an ice floe, and many of the over 100 species of birds up here. One of our encounters with the local wildlife was a bit too close for comfort: both of our ATVs were dive-bombed in succession by some very territorial terns as we were driving on a beach east of town the other day. Luckily we were wearing helmets!

Musk Ox

As the weather is continuing to warm up, the vegetation is becoming greener, and the black fly larvae are getting bigger, we are looking forward to continuing to explore the area and do more collecting. The road to Ovayok Territorial park is currently washed out, but we are crossing our fingers that we will be able to get there at some point before the end of our trip. And we are hoping to not spend too much more time with ATVs and/or team members stuck in pockets of wet clay that are almost impossible to escape from!

Update from Team Knife

Life in the ‘knife has been busy and exciting!

We’ve been enjoying a lot of hot and sunny weather.  Our trapping efforts have led to some nice catches, the aquatic sampling has gone off without a hitch, and we’ve had excellent opportunities to explore interesting and novel sites for some opportunistic collection.  We’ve also been enjoying the hospitality of the very friendly people of Yellowknife.

A few days ago, after a rather muggy session of trap servicing on the Ingraham Trail, we found ourselves wandering down a narrow, bumpy gravel road in search of access to the Cameron River, near Prelude and River Lakes, for some aquatic work.  The road ended in a very sandy clearing in the forest.  Not realizing that Big Red was only in 2W drive, we quickly wound up stuck in the sand.  This little misadventure was ultimately incredibly fortunate: several hours later we had successfully sampled the river and were enjoying lemonade on the porch of a generous family whose nearby waterfront property had served as our sampling site. Charlotte, Rowena, and their mother Penny spent the afternoon with us as we sampled.  The girls, both very keen on science, got to watch entomologists at work and proved to be excellent tour guides, pointing out good sampling nooks. 

Meagan and Crystal sorting aquatic specimens with Penny and Rowena, our hosts

Meagan and Crystal sorting aquatic specimens with Penny and Rowena, our hosts

Patrick with Charlotte, who knows everything about beaver logs!

Patrick with Charlotte, who knows everything about beaver logs!

That night we treated ourselves to the world-famous Yellowknife dining experience at Bullocks Bistro.  Renowned for their fish and chips, it was an evening of tasty food, get-it-yourself beverages (“here are the glasses, there’s the tap”), colourful proprietors and over-the-top decor.  Definitely worth the splurge!

Team Knife outside Bullocks after a delicious meal
Team Knife outside Bullocks after a delicious meal

Crystal, Meagan and Patrick checking out Bullocks' decor

On Thursday, in search of some small streams and novel sites in which to sample EPTs and black flies, we took to the waters of the Yellowknife River in a pair of canoes.  Strong currents and winds made the trip challenging, but, as Patrick said at one point “It’s likely that no one has ever sampled this stream in the past, and it may never be sampled again”…in other words, it was worth the effort (the scenery was definitely an added bonus).

Meagan and Laura on the Yellowknife River

Meagan and Laura on the Yellowknife River

Laura investigating the beaver dam that dried up one stream our gps claimed we should have been able to find.

Laura investigating the beaver dam that dried up the stream our gps claimed we should have been able to find.

As if we weren’t busy enough, “Team Arthropod” stormed the Yellowknife Midnight Sun triathlon early (very early!) morning!  With Laura in the pool, Patrick on a borrowed mountain bike  (in hiking boots!) and Meagan taking the team to the finish line on the run section, Team Arthropod took first place in the team sprint category! 

Patrick did the biking leg, wearing hiking boots no less!

Patrick after the biking leg, wearing hiking boots no less!

"Team Arthropod" wins the team sprint at the Midnight Sun Triathlon!

"Team Arthropod" wins the team sprint at the Midnight Sun Triatholon!

We’ve wrapped up the day with sample processing, some sorting and equipment cleanup in preparation for the next leg of our journey, which will take us to Kugluktuk, Nunavut. We’ve all enjoyed our time in Yellowknife: it’s truly a fantastic place to work and play.

Bugfest at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre

On Thursday, Team Knife spent the evening at the Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife, where Bugfest 2011 was taking place.

The crowd starts to gather for Bug Fest at the Yellowknife Northern Heritage Centre

Bugfest participants gathering outside the Heritage Centre

Each team member managed an activity station featuring a different type of insect collection method or expertise.  The outdoor fun was followed by a great talk by Chris Buddle.  The event was well attended and well received by the very enthusiastic participants of all ages.

Check out the article featured on Yellowknife Info for details and photos! 

“A Buggy Good Time”

Bison, black flies and more!

From Team Knife:

Our crew managed to get all of our pan, pitfall and malaise traps set on Tuesday, so we’ve spent the past two days conducting aquatic sampling.

On our way our of town on Wednesday, we were treated to an eyeful of local megafauna:

Bison spotted in Yellowknife

Bison spotted in Yellowknife

This bison chewed away quite complacently at the side of the road, not bothered in the least by our vehicle parked close by or the “tourists” taking photographs.

Part of the aquatic sampling protocol includes searching the substrate of moving bodies of water for black fly larvae, one of our target taxa.  Yellowknife has proven to be extremely fruitful in this regard:

Black flies from Cameron Falls, Yellowknife, NWT

Black fly larvae on a submerged birch log taken from Cameron Falls, Yellowknife, NWT

Collecting black flies (larvae) from Cameron Falls, Yellowknife, NWT
Patrick with a huge haul of larvae

The waters seem to be generally very productive here; we’ve removed many specimens of caddisflies, stoneflies, mayflies, damselflies and dragonflies doidoing kick sampling and seaches of submerged rocks.  

Dragonfly larva collected in Yellowknife, NWT

Dragonfly larva collected in Yellowknife, NWT

Net weaving caddisfly larvae in Yellowknife, NWT

Cone-chaped webs constructed by net-weaving caddisfly larvae, used to capture food flowing downstream

After a morning of sampling in several rivers, tributaries, and streams west of town this morning, our team spent the afternoon with local residents at the Yellowknife Heritage Museum…more on this fun event to follow in another blog post!


Team Knife is in the ‘knife

From Chris Buddle, PI:

The NBP team’s travels from Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa went smoothly, except for the loss of some of our vials in a security check. Thankfully, in Edmonton, the marvelous Felix and Janet Sperling (fellow entomologists) were able to track down supplies for our team on short notice. They took time out of their Sunday afternoon to help us out, and our teams are very grateful! Entomological karma is strong…so good things will certainly come to the Sperling family.

The NBP team in Edmonton

Chris Buddle, Laura Timms, Crystal Ernst, Patrick Schaefer, and Meagan Blair arrived in Yellowknife Monday morning (June 6).

Yellowknife is a terrific northern city – although it is not a large town, it feels like a big city because of all the amenities and services. We quickly settled into our hotel, and then proceeded to drive our rental truck (BIG RED) out to a few potential sites to scout out potential locations to set our terrestrial pan & pitfall traps, and our Malaise traps.

Driving Big Red through the rolling rocky roads north of Yellowknife

Along the way we also found some good locations to collect aquatic insects. We are confident that we will be able to set out some terrestrial traps tomorrow (7 June). Although it was a cool day (8 C), the sun was shining and we were pleased to see some small wildlife Camponotus and Formica ants, Pirata wolf spiders, some flies, moths and butterflies) and some larger wildlife (a pair of bald eagles, two foxes, and more than a few ravens).

Chris and Patrick inspect the substrate for aquatic invertebrates in the river at the end of the road; the sites marks the start of an ice road used during colder months

We are excited to be out in the field, and are certain that Yellowknife will prove to be a productive place to collect, and the town seems warm, friendly and welcoming.