It’s finally summer weather in Ontario, which means weekends involve looking for any excuse to spend some quality R&R outside and near the water. The phrase “stop and smell the roses” applies here at Brighton’s beautiful Presqu’ile Provincial Park. With its two beaches, various trails, kids programs, full-service campgrounds, a view of the water from almost any point, and the hundreds of wildlife species, it’s the perfect place to take advantage of some peace and quiet.
Now, take a closer look and you will find that there are others enjoying the park as well – they’re the bugs of Presqu’ile. Yes, bugs–the creepy, crawly little things that enter your trailer uninvited. I’m telling you, they’re a part of the park just as much as you are. They keep the beautiful ecosystem alive, and they’re the main attraction at one of Presqu’ile’s weekly Discovery Programs.
Ask the Naturalist – Insect Safari is one of the weekly children’s (adults are welcome too) programs that Presqu’ile offers throughout the summer. The program is available three to four times a week at the group picnic area in the park.
This program is perfect for parents/guardians, kids of all ages, and any fellow nature-lovers that wish to go off the beaten path. If you’re a parent with a little one, you understand the struggle of keeping them entertained when camping or going for a walk. Ask the Naturalist – Insect Safari is a great way to educate and explore at Presqu’ile.
You might be thinking, “Well I can catch bugs with my kids anywhere”, which is true–the main benefit of this program is that there are two Naturalists/Environmentalists supervising the show and waiting to share their knowledge of the park with you and your family.
Colin and Ben are the two bug experts working the Insect Safari this summer. Colin is currently attending Trent University in Peterborough, studying Environmental Science and working at Presqu’ile Provincial Park during the summer. Ben has graduated from the same program, earning his M.Sc Biology and Environmental Science in Ireland. He now shares his skills and love for the wildlife in Southern Ontario with the park. They’re both approachable, passionate about their work, and love interacting with curious visitors.
Another nice thing about this program is that it’s pretty low-key and lenient. It runs for two hours or more, is close to washrooms and other facilities, and participants can come and go as they please. Colin and Ben said the perfect schedule involves a quick introduction, handing out the bug nets and waiting by the picnic table or helping the children explore. When a bug is found, they will tell everyone facts about the bug from their own knowledge or from the many picture-filled books available at the meeting point.
“We try to focus more on facts about the wildlife instead of the names so that participants can leave the program remembering and feeling like they’ve learned something,” says Ben. It’s easier for a kid to remember that some dragonflies migrate south in the fall, rather than expecting them to remember the Green Darner dragonfly, or that there are one hundred and thirty species in Ontario for example.
I personally couldn’t find anything aside from crickets and beetles when I was there–I was really hoping a monarch butterfly would magically land on my shoulder, but I can dream. Aside from my crickets and beetles, Colin and Ben say the most popular finds are: cabbage moths, grasshoppers, crickets, dragonflies, caterpillars, fireflies and spiders.
So, if you’re looking for a way to connect with nature and keep the kids busy while visiting or camping at Presqu’ile, be sure to keep the Insect Safari in mind. Take a look at their map and events calendar (links below) for more information, and then go catch some critters in the park!
Presq’uile Provincial Park: https://www.ontarioparks.com/park/presquile
Summer Discovery Programs: https://www.ontarioparks.com/park/presquile/activities