It is impossible for us to know exactly how many species of insect we have at Awenda, but we do know that they make up the bulk of our wildlife diversity. From the pollinators which allow plants to reproduce to the carnivores that help control other insect populations, insects are an integral part of a healthy ecosystem.

The Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) is one of the largest moth species found at Awenda, with a wingspan of up to 15 cm. © Copyright 2011 Awenda Provincial Park, All Rights Reserved

Many people are aware of the excitement of camping in May and June when Blackflies and Mosquitoes are at their finest, but what about those hot July days when you can hear the Cicadas’ electric buzz, or those cool August nights when the Katydids and Crickets fill the night air with their mating calls? Many people don’t realize just how much of their camping experience is wrapped up with the presence of insects.

Bald-faced Hornet building nest on staircase railing at Brabont Point May 27 2016 (4)
Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) hard at work building a nest in spring © Copyright 2016 Awenda Provincial Park, All Rights Reserved

In 2016 Awenda’s insect diversity was surveyed during Awenda’s first ever Bio Blitz. Leading the insect team was Dr. Stephen Marshall of the University of Guelph’s entomology department. The survey first brought Bio Blitz participants to the Kettle’s Lake boardwalk, where a variety of aquatic insects were found to be present. With the help of Dr. Marshall, participants found and  identified many aquatic insects. Insect identification was usually done by sight, but in the case of Whirligig Beetles smell was also an asset, as each genus of Whirligig Beetle gives off a distinct, putrid odour.

The 2016 Bio Blitz insect surveyors found one insect of particular interest, a species of shining fungus beetle (Telmatophilus typhae) that was found to be living on the cattails beside the boardwalk. Individually almost unnoticeable, the group of tiny, black beetles was only discovered due to their presence in large number on male cattails . It turned out that this species had never before been found in Ontario, making it an excellent addition to Awenda’s insect inventory.

Telmatophilus typhae 5
A species of shining fungus beetle never before found in Ontario, Telmatophilus typhae is pictured here under a digital microscope. © Copyright 2016 Awenda Provincial Park, All Rights Reserved

Do you want to ‘sweep’ your way into action? We encourage you to come out to one our amazing insect programs offered throughout the summer or to school groups in May-June.