For the 4th of July weekend, my buddy Alex and I decided to organize a camping trip to the Sagehen Creek area in the Tahoe National Forest. The area we stayed at was the Sagehen Creek Campground, which is about a quarter mile west of the Sagehen Creek Research Station. This area is special because it is where the famous UC Davis Entomology course
Bug Boot Camp (ENT 109) takes place. This whole ecosystem is unique to the high elevation sierra and has been one of my most favored places to explore.
The Long Awaited Return to Sagehen
Before this trip, the last time I was here was in the summer of 2012. This area didn’t seem to have changed much since then, but it was still as amazing and calm as I remember. Due to the unusually cold weather that started late in March 2018, the abundance in insects we were expecting during the day and at night was a bit lack luster. But what the area lacked in insects, it made up for in amazing scenery. This part of the Tahoe Natl Forest is definitely one of my favorites and as an added bonus, this area is home to many high elevation lakes.
While exploring the areas around the research station and the campground I found a number of different insect species. Majority of them were beetles, but I managed to find a few different species of leps. Some of the leps included the western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus), the pale swallowtail (Papilio eurymedon), and a parnassius butterfly (Parnassius sp.). The reason I found more beetles than leps on this trip is because our group was graced by the presence of the beetle man himself, Dr. Art Evans. He was staying at the research station nearby with a colleague of his and decided to stop by our campsite to share some of his knowledge and wisdom and techniques to use for collecting beetles in the field. It was a nice surprise for all of us and we hope to meet with him again on future insect collecting trips.
A Pleasant Visit to the Lake
After spending a fair amount of time around the campsite, we decided to visit one of the nearby lakes. We tried getting to two different lakes but the roads were a bit to treacherous to make it all the way. Instead we settled on checking out a reservoir that was slightly further of a drive from our campsite. We eventually found ourselves along one of the arms of the Stampede Reservoir. It was a very nice lake and it provided a nice change in scenery and a new area to look for insects. I didn’t find much of anything because of the winds deciding to pick up but I did manage to find and catch an interesting small headed fly (Acroceridae). I still have to get the specimen identified but I’m looking forward to what species it might be.
Once we returned to the campground we took naps and prepared for dinner. After waking up from our naps we promptly went for a nice short walk around the Sagehen Creek area and found some interesting insects. Our group managed to find robber flies (Asilidae), rose weevils (Attelabidae), many small chalcid wasps (Chalcididae), and even a few more parnassius butterflies (Parnassius sp., Family: Papilionidae) that happened to fly across the road. Majority of these insects I had not seen for some time and thus I was pleased to have seen them again during this visit.
This trip was a great success and I’m glad I was able to relive those moments I had back when I took the “Bug Boot Camp” course. Everyone who joined me on the trip were able to enjoy themselves and have a very good time. The very chilly night time temperatures made the trip a bit more interesting, but we still managed to enjoy the nice night skies full of stars and the occasional satellite passing by. Hopefully next time I visit the area, there will be some more interesting specimens to photograph and/or collect. Until next time Sagehen!