On Monday of this week, we got a break from butterfly sampling to attend an insect pinning and curation workshop at the Newhalem Research Center, put on by Khuram Zaman of the University of Wisconsin Madison. It was quite the surprise when I walked into the workshop and recognized Khuram from an entomology class we had taken together at the UW-Madison; small world! Khuram gave a short presentation about butterfly pinning techniques and his work on Parnassius clodius, a butterfly species that we commonly find on our transect routes in the North Cascades. After his presentation, we put our skills to the test and pinned some butterflies that we had caught around the research station. Pinning insects is not something that is new to me, but it was great to have a refresher since my supervisor has tasked me with making a display of the species that we typically encounter along our survey routes. I am really excited to get to work on the display, as it will be a great way for future interns and volunteers to study the nuances of each species before going out into the field and learning to identify them on the fly.

Pinning some butterflies with the pollinator hotshots from Colorado State University

The rest of the week was business as usual, with three more butterfly surveys–one on Skyline Divide, one on Maple Pass, and one on Cascade Pass. I was particularly eager to get out to both Skyline Divide and Maple Pass, as they were transects that I personally had yet to survey. Though still quite beautiful, the views were obscured by smoke from the large forest fires that are burning in British Columbia to the north. Unfortunately, with the dry, hot weather we’ve been having, the threat of forest fires will most likely remain for the rest of the season. It has gotten so bad that many people are cancelling campsite reservations because of poor air quality and the lack of visibility. Science, however, shows no mercy, so we braved the conditions and got our weekly surveys done.

Mt. Baker through the smoky air on Skyline Divide

National Park Service (NPS) employees showing some passersby their catch

A bonus sidebar: A couple weeks back, I took a kayaking class which, after passing, granted me access to use NPS kayaks that are stationed at Diablo and Ross Lakes. I haven’t gotten out on the water too much yet, but the couple times I have the views have been spectacular! I haven’t quite figured out the fishing on these lakes, but you better believe I will catch one by the end of the summer!

Kayaking on Diablo Lake on a clear, sunny morning

Diablo lake at moon-rise through the smoke