Jan 122017

Earlier today I reflected on my start as a Blogger™ over on Twitter, which is basically where I blog now (hashtag blogging is dead or something). Stephen Heard (who has his own blog) suggested I post it here too, and I figured for old time sake (and so I don’t forget my login information) that that sounded like a great idea.

You can read that first introductory post here if you want. The first “real” post is here (which I’m pleasantly surprised to admit stands up pretty well 7 years later).

Oct 192015

As you may have noticed, it’s been fairly quiet ’round these parts the last few months. I’m not sure there’s one particular reason why I’ve let my blogging fall off, but rather a compilation of factors, like doing a PhD (and a number of side-projects…), the ease of sharing brief thoughts on Twitter, and the “P” word: Procrastination.

That’s not to say that I’ve disappeared from the online ecosystem, it’s just that there’s been a shift in the content I’m creating and where I share it. Breaking Bio (the podcast I co-host with a great group of other biologists) is going strong and we’re coming up on our 100th episode, and like I mentioned, I’m finding Twitter an easier way of sharing ideas, opinions, jokes & research news than writing several hundred words here. Of course I’m also playing around with Tumblr and Instagram, and have a bunch of ideas for additional projects if I can make/find the time for them. I was even invited to give a plenary address last month regarding the stuff I do online, which was awesome & humbling, but which also served to illustrate how much I’ve let my blog slide of late.

So while I can’t promise that my posting schedule will pick up anytime soon here, I still consider this blog as my home base online, and the place I go to when I really want to delve into a topic. I’ve always found a warm & receptive audience from you, my readers, and have always appreciated having my ideas challenged or bounced around by everyone who takes the time to read what I write. The support I’ve received online has been incredibly important to me, and I want to thank each and every person who has read, commented or shared something I’ve written here.

But now I have an opportunity to learn a little more about you, and it’s even going to count as SCIENCE! Dr. Paige Brown Jarreau is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Louisiana State University who is interested in the science blogging community. She has previously studied and surveyed the motives of the people who write science blogs, but now she’s interested in finding out who is reading science blogs, which means she wants to hear from you!

So I’ve teamed up with Paige to create a survey of you, the readers of Biodiversity in Focus (and associated products). By participating, you’ll be helping me improve my blog and contributing to SCIENCE on blog readership. You will also get FREE science art from Paige’s Photography for participating, as well as a chance to win a t-shirt and other perks! It should only take 10-15 minutes to complete. You can find the survey here: http://bit.ly/mysciblogreaders. Paige also successfully raised some money with a crowd-funding campaign in order to provide perks for those that take the time to fill out her survey, so if you help her (and me) by filling out the survey at http://bit.ly/mysciblogreaders by October 30, you’ll be entered to win a $50 Amazon.com gift card (100 available to be won across all surveyed blogs)! It’s a Win-Win-Win: Paige gets data to help her research, I get to learn a little more about who you are & why you read this blog (and presumably others), and you have a chance at winning some money (plus the guaranteed feeling of personal satisfaction for making those first two Wins possible)!

If you want to hear more from Paige, we spoke to her on Breaking Bio last year and talked all about her interest in the science of science communication and blogging:


Mar 032014

This may be the shortest month, but it was certainly packed full of great new writing and other content!

Although I get almost all of  my science news online from blogs and social media, that’s still well outside the norm. Matt Shipman reviews a new report discussing what media Americans get their science news & views from.

Sometimes grad students can become so focused on their research subject they fail to see the forest for the trees (or the genus for the species if you’re a taxonomist). This excellent article by Amy Wray provides some excellent reasons why young scientists should be reading non-scientific literature.

What’s this? Forbes Magazine published a story about neonicotenoid pesticides and bees that has nuance and actual examination of the scientific evidence? WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA?!

Absolutely tremendous essay by Laura Burns on being a role model for young girls in science. If you only have time to read one article this month, I would suggest it be this one.

Sticky, a new documentary about the Lord Howe Island stick insect looks amazing! Gwen Pearson (aka Bug Girl) has an excellent preview over on Wired at Charismatic Minifauna, and be sure to watch the trailer below (which is amazing even on its own).

Wonderful piece by David Maddison on the legacy of taxonomists. Probably the best interpretation of what being a taxonomist is like that I’ve ever read.

Chris Buddle examines whether charismatic megafauna new species descriptions are more often cited in the scientific literature than charismatic microfauna. Spoiler alert: they are.

Brigette Zacharczenko makes a triumphant return to her blog with the story behind her first paper describing a new species of moth.

If you had to guess, how many U.S. Presidents have been inflicted with Malaria? Entomology Today has the answer, and it’s higher than you might imagine.

Piotr Naskrecki finds one of the most incredible & rare katydids on the planet, but at perhaps the worst possible time. Fantastic story and photos as always.

This video on the ecological role and services provided by insects by Dorothy Maguire and Sam Quigley is a lot of fun and a great primer for why insects matter.

I’ve often wondered how each U.S. state selected their official state insects (most of which are kind of lame), and really loved this article by Debbie Hadley explaining the history of each state’s.

Fantastic series of illustrations documenting how a few extinct species lost their final member by Jeannette Langmead & Frank Swain.

Caption of the month:

Wayne Maddison has an amazing series of photo essays documenting the complicated world of mimicry in tropical jumping spiders.

I was cited by Cracked magazine. 12-year old me would be extremely proud.

To celebrate Darwin Day this year, Stylianos Chatzimanolis described a beautiful new genus of rove beetle (Staphylinidae) in his honour, and then wrote two great articles about how he came to work with such an important specimen.

Pro Tip: This is not the proper pinning technique for flies. Poster by Ding Hao (1958) for Mao’s pest eradication program.

The poster above was featured in a very interesting article by Rebecca Kreston about the pest eradication program put in place by Mao during the mid 20th century.

I love me a good nomenclatural etymology dissection, and this one by Heather Proctor at her new blog The Inquisitive Anystid about the story behind Odocoileus (the genus that includes white-tailed and mule deer) is a great one.

Finally, Chris Buddle’s 10 Facts guest series continues to be a wonderful snapshot into the incredible biology & natural history of under-appreciated arthropods. This month’s highlights include the Giant Skippers by Andy Warren, and Ichneumonid Wasps by Laura Timms.

Dec 312012

Some how it’s already December 31st, which besides being terrifying that another year has come and gone, also makes it time for a look back at the year that was — because honestly I feel like I blinked and missed it all!

2012 was a crazy year for me. Between finishing up the field guide, developing & teaching my first college-level course, starting my PhD and travelling to several meetings and workshops across North America, I saw and did a lot of new stuff that I’m grateful to have been able to do, and feel like the year was a pretty productive one overall (although I failed to get a few papers out that I had hoped to and which continue to hang over my head…).

In addition to the “traditional” measures of academia, 2012 was a big year for alternative projects as well. I joined up with Crystal “The Bug Geek” Ernst to start the ESC Blog, started co-hosting a podcast with some really awesome people, participated in a journal club made possible because of social media, and interacted with a ton of amazing people online, who all inspired me, stimulated my mind and provided a much needed stress release!

Here at the blog I found myself battling periods of writing cramps and unwanted mental vacations, but still managed to come up with 79 posts (including this one). As for readers and visitors, 2012 was a banner year for my blog, with more then 25,000 people from 160 countries & territories stopping by to read articles or look at photos. In case you’re interested, my most read posts this year were:

  1. Field Guide to the Jewel Beetles of Northeastern North America – 5.5k views
  2. New species wants you to See No Weevil – 5k views (largely because it was featured by both Jerry Coyne at Why Evolution is True & Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science — OMG)
  3. Like a Deer Fly in the Headlights – 3k views

For comparison, the 3 posts which I enjoyed writing the most were:

  1. Dipterist Files – Willi Hennig
  2. Twitter for Scientists (and why you should try it)
  3. Irreplaceable fly described from Australia

I tried out some new ideas this year, stirred a few pots, and feel like I’ve made some pretty decent advances with my writing overall. No complaints there!

The one area that I feel like I failed at in 2012 is taking the time to pick up my camera! I only kept 1350 photos this year, and a large proportion of those don’t meet my standards for sharing here, or are of family. The number of bug photos I took would have been much lower had I not been at BugShot, which gave me a big kick in the pants to get out there and enjoy some free time. While I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked, I did come away with some that I’m quite happy with. Some of these I’ve previously blogged, but most of these have been locked away in my hard drive until now, so enjoy!

Favourite Photo of the Year

Phymatidae ambush bug waiting for dinner

Phymatid waiting for dinner – Archbold, Florida

Favourite Fly Photo of the Year

Laphria index Robber fly Asilidae

Laphria index (Asilidae) – Guelph, Ontario

Favourite Photo of a Newborn Fly

Triumphant Eurosta solidaginis fruit fly Tephritidae

Triumphant Eurosta solidaginis fruit fly (Tephritidae) – Guelph, Ontario

Favourite Photo of a Fly Annoyed by my Presence

Euaresta festiva fruit fly (Tephritidae)

What are you lookin’ at? Euaresta festiva fruit fly (Tephritidae) – St. Catharines, Ontario

 Favourite Bug Porn Photo

Euschistus servus stink bugs (Pentatomidae) mating

Euschistus servus stink bugs (Pentatomidae) having a good time – Norfolk County, Ontario

Favourite White Box Photo

Conura sp. Chalcididae parasitic wasp

Conura sp. (Chalcididae) – Guelph, Ontario

Favourite Photo Using Techniques Learned from another Bug Blogger

Cicindella scutellaris tiger beetle (Carabidae)

I ended up with SO MUCH SAND DOWN MY PANTS after using Ted MacRae’s patented Tiger Beetle Stalking Crawl… Cicindela scutellaris – Norfolk County, Ontario

Favourite Photo of a Bug Blogger Caught Posting to Twitter

Geek in Question

Hahahaha 😀 – The Bug Geek – Knoxville, Tennessee

Favourite Photo of a Parasite Freshly Excavated from a Lab Mate’s Foot

Chigoe Flea Tunga penetrans Siphonaptera

Chigoe Flea (Tunga penetrans) female – Guelph, Ontario (originally “collected” in Guyana). Look for a full write up and photo essay about this creepy insect soon (I promise).

Favourite Landscape Photo

Fireflies under fiery skies

Fireflies under fiery skies in my parent’s back yard – Camlachie, Ontario

Favourite Photo of an Insect Sitting on Santa’s Lap

All I want for Christmas are my 2 fore wings!

All I want for Christmas are my 2 front wings! Manduca sp. (labelled Tomato Hornworm at the pet shop) posing with Santa – Guelph, Ontario

Favourite Photo that Keeps Me Taking Photos Because I Just. Barely. MISSED IT!!

Ants carrying dead wasp

The one that got away — from me at least, I’m pretty sure that wasp is doomed. If only I had focused a few millimeters closer to me… Sigh

And finally…

Favourite Photo of My Wife, Who Makes it All Worthwhile

Renee & I at the cottage

My wife Renee and I enjoying a short vacation at the cottage. A good reminder that there’s more to life than work and to take some time to relax with the people you love.

Aug 042012

Perhaps I should have named this The Biweekly Flypaper since it seems summer activities are conspiring against me, but hopefully I can get back on track soon.

(Inter)National Moth Week (NMW)

I don’t know if you noticed, but the Bug-osphere took (Inter)National Moth Week by storm and scaled new heights with their mothy contributions! Here’s but a sampling of the moth-related postings from my fellow bug bloggers.

A Bug Blog talked about a bat-sensing moth, as did the group behind the Audubon Field Guides.

OMAFRA’s Field Crop News explained how you can recognize butterfly and moth damage in your soybeans and corn crops.

The Bug Geek started off with some of her unidentified moths, and ended with a moth with a special surprise.

The Home Bug Gardeners posted some great moths all week, and eventually found themselves as new moth-er enthusiasts.

The National Moth Week team had a whole suite of great posts during the week, as well as showing off some cool moth sidewalk art spotted in Ottawa.

Itsy Bitsy Beetle found a little moth street art of her own on a wall in Berkeley California.

Brian Cutting showed off some of his tropical moth photos and ended Moth Week with a bang!

Bug Eric’s Wasp Wednesday turned into Not Actually a Wasp Wednesday in honour of NMW.

Matt “the Biology Geek” Bergeron got ambitious and took on the micro moths.

The Dragonfly Woman fought the elements to share moths with the public at an official event at her new job.

And of course CaterpillarBlog joined in on the fun attending a mothing event organized by her and her lab mates. Continue reading »

Jul 232012

Happy (Inter)National Moth Week!

National Moth Week

The organizers of National Moth Week have done a great job getting people to volunteer to do public moth-related events, so check to see if there’s something going on in your neck of the woods. If there aren’t, that doesn’t have to stop you from mothing; go hang out at bright lights just after dark and see what you can find!

This week should be pretty fun, and I’m going to try and get out at least one night to see if I can’t add to my abysmally poor list of moth photographs, and will try and tweet any encounters I have with moths throughout the week. I’ll also be contributing any new sightings to Project Noah and iNaturalist, so feel free to follow along with me there.

I’ve successfully ignored the Lepidoptera thus far in my entomological career, so I’m taking this opportunity to do a little learning and see if I can’t improve on my moth ID skills. I’m going to be posting photos of moths throughout the week, some from North America which I’ve been able to identify, and some from my tropical travels which I have no idea about. If you notice that I messed up an identification, please feel free to gloat and mock my error; perhaps it’ll teach me not to ignore an entire order of insects from now on…

Oh, and because I can’t completely turn my blog over to moths, I’m going to be featuring their dipteran parasites whenever possible, so expect plenty of tachinid talk this week too!

Happy Mothing! :)

Jun 032012

It’s been a pretty exciting week ’round these parts, with the debut of the ESC Blog. In it’s brief 72 hour existence it has had more than 400 views already, thanks in large part to a fantastic post by ESC President Michel Cusson about parasitic wasps and their “domestication” of viral DNA to help colonize their hosts. Of course there’s been plenty of other insect information being shared around the web this week, including an inordinate number of glowing invertebrate stories…

Like a Beacon in the Night

Scorpions are one of the better known examples of UV fluorescing invertebrates, and over at Safari Ecology there’s a nice breakdown of why they might do so (plus some other interesting scorpion factoids).

Scorpions aren’t the only ones with such a fancy party trick however. While surveying for rats on Alcatraz Island (yep, that Alcatraz), a research team from UC Davis inadvertently found a common millipede species glowing around the island. For the explanation of why these millipedes glow, check out Science Friday’s excellent interview & video with University of Arizona expert Paul Marek.

During the US civil war, some injured Tennessee soldiers noticed their wounds would glow at night, and what’s more, those soldiers who’s injuries glowed were more likely to survive their injuries! Excellent story of the “Angel’s Glow” and how scientific serendipity helped explain an excellent story of insects, nematodes and commensualism.

Last but certainly not least, check out this picture of a UV-fluorescing harvestman from Ecuador! I had no idea that (some?)  Opiliones could fluoresce, but I’d love to try it out around here. Here’s a paper (open access) which discusses surverying for a harvestman species in Argentina using UV light. Anyone know where I can get a UV flashlight?


Haddaway may have asked “What is Love“, but Floridians are starting ask where are the love bugs?

Ever wondered how to tell the difference between a male mosquito and a male midge? Dave at the Home Bug Garden has the info you need.

Brian Cutting gets some nice shots of an aphid’s worst nightmare: flower fly larvae.


How much does the bite of a long-horned beetle (Cerambycidae) hurt? I don’t know, but The Bug Geek does!

Turns out that beetle elytra not only offer protection while at rest, but also provide lift while the beetle is in flight!

Ted MacRae finds a real jewel of a beetle that he hadn’t seen in quite some time.

Perhaps this post would be better classified under “Field trips that make me incredibly jealous”, but Hitoshi Takano of the Natural History Museum in London, UK is having a grand old time collecting dung beetles in Tanzania.

Science artist/illustrator Glendon Mellow has a sneak preview for a project he’s been working on recently. I’m incredibly  biased, but I can’t wait for the full announcement about that project (hint: it’s coming soon)!


I’m not sure whether plants can be turned into zombies, but I think this parasitic wasp featured by Parasite of the Day gets pretty close!

A cup of tea with a touch of honey is a pretty common remedy for a cold, but can honey bees provide us with something more powerful to fight drug-resistant bacteria?


National Moth Week is coming up at the end of July, and what better way to get prepared than to pick up Seabrooke Leckie’s new field guide to moths? Seabrooke just got back from what sounds like a really fun book tour and has started sharing stories of some of the people and moths she met. In case you want to get outside and start practicing your mothing skills, Brigette Zacharczenko at Caterpillar Blog shares how she finds moths (and other creatures of the night).

Other Arthropod Orders

Chagas disease has flown under the epidemiological radar for a long time, but new research about infection rates in the US hopes to bring it into the light.

Just when I think I’ve got insects all figured out, Ted MacRae shares a roach that can curl up into a ball and which “nurses” its young. Mind. Blown.


I just heard about these Spider Assassins (also known as Pelican Spiders for pretty obvious reasons), but I already want to learn more about them! Amazing observations and photos of this poorly understood group by Paul Bertner.

The Buddle Lab and its academic offspring are helping to unravel the natural history of spiders in the Arctic, and Chris shares one of their recent publications.


X-Men figurines: toys, or tools for teaching species concepts & evolutionary history?

By the sounds of it, McGill dipterist Terry Wheeler has an extremely enviable and extensive book collection.


Want a cool new technique to photograph insects any time, any place? Check out these amazing light stencil photographs by TigTab, and also the tutorial on how to make stencils for yourself!

This photo wins any and all competitions related to last week’s annular solar eclipse, hands down.


To leave off this week, enjoy this fantastic #IAmScience video put together by the team at Story Collider:

Further Reading

Symbiartic – Science-Art Scumble

Ed Yong – Missing Links

Bora Zivkovic – The Scienceblogging Weekly

May 202012

Another week, another batch of entomophilic blogs, inspirational photographs, and spare-time diversions.

General Entomology

Are you an entomologist looking for a rustic home perfect for insect collecting? Then the Onion has a deal just for you!

Entomologists aren’t always invited into ecosystem monitoring projects, but Chris Buddle shares his experiences with the Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Monitoring Plan.


The spring edition of Fly Times, the biannual newsletter for the North American Dipterists Society, is out and absolutely full of interesting information. Everything from cheap ideas for high-quality specimen photography to research updates, and even a technique for reconstituting eye colour patterns in dead & dried flies! I look forward to this newsletter every spring and fall, and my only disappointment with this edition is I have to wait another 6 months until the next!

Like CSI: Crime Scene Investigators and imagine a glorious life fighting crime in high fashion? Think again. The BBC has an excellent interview with leading UK forensic entomologist Dr. Martin Hall about his work and thinking like a maggot.

The entomologists I know, including me of course, aren’t exactly the most fashion-conscious people out there (seriously, it can be pretty bad). But even I think these insect-repellent high fashions are attractive, especially as a great way to raise awareness about malaria!

What’s upside down and fuzzy all over? This great photo of a bee fly by Ted MacRae! Also cool, the photo was identified by bee fly aficionado and recent University of Guelph PhD graduate Joel Kits. I <3 the internet for cool connections like this!

Apparently this week was the week to feed deer flies, as Brian Cutting also sacrificed his body for a chance to photograph a pangonine!


Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) was discovered in Guelph last summer, and this year, the University of Guelph will be taking proactive steps to help protect the ash trees on campus and in the arboretum.

There’s something soothing about watching fireflies in the summer, and photographer Kevin Adams has a nice piece detailing the behaviour, biology and biochemistry behind these little beasts. Now that you know a little more about them, he’s got some excellent tips for photographing their dazzling shows this summer!


Bug Girl has been handed the keys to the Scientopia Guest Blogge this week, and she’s taken the opportunity to explain why bees have it rough, what is and isn’t CCD, and of course, bees & STDs.

Of course, bees can’t have it too rough if they have time to interrupt a baseball game with some of the best seats in the house…

Other Insect Orders

Speaking of baseball (or softball in this case), find out how a youth spent hitting home runs helped the Dragonfly Woman prepare for a career as an entomologist.

Pollination biology has been attracting a lot of research attention in the past few years. Of course thrips were into it way before any of us (105 million years ago actually), making them total thripsters.

I told myself I wouldn’t link to any of the photos Alex Wild posted from Brazil, because he was in Brazil and I wasn’t (nope, I’m not jealous at all), but he’s too damn good and these tree hoppers are just too damn cool. You win this round Myrmecos…


Chuck Norris is on to ticks and the diseases they spread. In response, the IUCN listed the Ixodida as extinct and the WHO celebrated the eradication of Lyme Disease.

Since Chuck Norris has taken care of them, I suppose I shouldn’t be afraid of ticks and their ability to induce meat allergies in unknowing victims, but my worst nightmare is a life without bacon. Here’s the original study if you need further proof that ticks are devil spawn.

This spider photo by Jason Hogle of Xenogere blew. My. Mind.

Everyone knows about the red hourglass identifying female black widow spiders, but the males are pretty spectacular in their own right! Check out the pedipalp photo by Alex Webb.

Pop quiz hot shot: How many mites can you fit on a size 12, Times Roman typed period? Macromite has the answer with an awesome poster (and the answer might surprise you).


Finally, someone has explained how the Linnean Classification system works. Sort of. Well, at least it’s fun.

This discussion of the “controversy” surrounding Triceratops by io9 is actually a pretty good primer on the science of taxonomy, with the only important missing piece being the principle of priority (which actually takes most of the controversy out of the story). Good thing Brian Switek was on it.

Sure he was known for Lolita, but this photo of Vladimir Nabokov hunting for butterflies with his wife belies his true love: Lepidoptera taxonomy.

Know why I love social media? Because how else would you get this discussion about the differences between phylogenetics and phenetics from such a diversity of researchers!

Science Communication

Science Blogs and social media made it into peer-review twice this week. First, a scientific paper about science blogs which discuss and report on scientific papers. Meta.

Then, Christie Wilcox had a great editorial published on the obligation scientists should have for communicating their research to the public, with an emphasis on social media.

If you’re unsure of Twitter (or know someone who is), I highly recommend you check out this great post by Ruth Dawkins explaining what makes Twitter such a valuable resource for pretty well anyone!


Ch-ch-ch-Chia! Growing your own photographs.

You’ve probably seen photos of star trails before, but I doubt you’ve seen a photo of star trails AND Earth trails. An amazing photograph by Don Pettit, an astronaut stationed on the International Space Station.

Want to see beautiful people turn into over-exaggerated caricatures right before your eyes? Then check out this crazy optical illusion spotted by Why Evolution is True.


Further Reading & Link Collections

Your Wild Life Blog’s Biodiversity Roundup

Bora Zovkovic’s Scienceblogging Weekly

Ed Yong’s Missing Links

David Winter @ The Atavism Sunday Spinelessness New Zealand Link List

May 122012

I come across a large number of interesting blog posts, news articles, scientific papers and various other types of media every week, which I try and share through Twitter on a regular basis. Since I know not everyone has been bitten by the Twitter bug yet1, I figured I’d start a weekly round up of links to some of the stories I find interesting, important or just plain entertaining.

True to form, most of these links will be insect related, but I have broad interests, so some other topics are sure to turn up from time to time2. The internet is full of talented people, and I hope you enjoy their work as much as I have.


The Flies (Diptera)

The 8th International Congress of Dipterology is coming up in a few years, so be sure to start saving your pennies for the trip to Potsdam, Germany!

I prefer studying flies (dead or alive), but if that’s not your thing, check out these creative photos of dead house flies and blow flies having the times of their (already finished) lives. Here’s the full collection by photographer Nicholas Hendrickx.

The BugBlog has a nice series of photos of Helophilus pendulus, commonly called the Footballer Hoverfly in the UK. Why call it that, you might ask? Apparently the striped patterns on the thorax reminded someone of a soccer jersey.

The Dragonfly Lady shows off a nice hilltopping site in Arizona. Plenty of fly talk in the comments.

The Beetles (Coleoptera)

The Edmonton Journal has a great biography of Dr. George Ball, a beetle taxonomist at the University of Alberta who has impacted the careers of dozens of top entomologists across North America.

This short film is both beautiful and bizarre all at once. A stop-motion portrayal of the life of a beetle taxonomist who makes the discovery of a lifetime.

Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) has now been found in most major urban centres across Ontario, and has recently turned up in Quebec. Chris Buddle discusses the affect that EAB will have on Montreal.

While not EAB, Chrysobothris vivida looks quite similar on first glance. The Field Museum shows off the holotype and label data, helping to explain the role that natural history collections play in day to day science.

Speaking of natural history collections, a volunteer at the Natural History Museum in London, England shares why she loves helping out with the beetle collection in her spare time.

Check out this awesome longhorn beetle (Cerambycidae) Ted McRae of Beetles in the Bush came across while working in Argentina recently. While you’re there, share your ideas on the purpose of the strange tufts of hair!

The Ants, Bees, and Wasps (Hymenoptera)

The School of Ants is gearing up for another summer of discovery by sampling the ants around our houses and picnic areas.

Ants are to ________ as clown fish are to anemones. Think you know the answer? Better check Not Exactly Rocket Science (NERS) by Ed Yong for an excellent tale of commensalism.

It may not be 1984, but Big Brother is watching what Orchid Bees are up to (but don’t worry, it’s for a good reason).

Scientific American ran an interesting story about native bee populations in eastern North America, and included an excellent slideshow of some beautiful bees with it.

Some of photos in that slideshow came out of the Packer Bee Lab at York University, as did a newly published review and key to the Dufourea bees (Halictidae) of Canada in the Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification.

Other Arthropods

Marine water striders (Gerridae) are making the news this week with the release of a new study finding that a massive raft of plastic pollution in the Pacific is harboring a growing population of these bugs. Ed Yong is excellent again on his NERS blog, and the paper is Open Access if you’d like to take a look yourself.

These plastic-loving water striders aren’t the only insects that have taken to the open ocean, and the North Carolina State University Insect Collection has a few more examples to share.

Caterpillars come in a wide variety of colours, shapes and forms, but these translucent, jelly Jewel Caterpillars are some of the most beautiful!

I saw Avengers this week, and it was really, really good. Prior to the movie, there was a trailer for the upcoming Spiderman reboot, promising plenty of web-slinging action. Before the movie comes out this summer, meet the backyard spider that may have served as inspiration for Peter Parker’s gadgets.

Taxonomy, Biodiversity, Academia, Science Communication/Photography

Although written by a marine ecologist and discussing a paper about plant taxonomists, this post on the Sea Monster Blog is one of the most best stories about the role of taxonomy and the decrease in taxonomists being hired and funded. A must read for anyone who depends on biology in their day-to-day lives (that means you).

The NCSU group shares an entertaining story and asks you to decide whether it’s fact or fiction. What do you think?

The Tepuis of Brazil are way up on the list of places I want to explore and collect one day. This excellent New York Times article by Carl Zimmer makes me want to go even more.

A new project was launched this week which hopes to provide interactive range maps for all the worlds flora & fauna! Nature has a nice feature explaining some of the goals and obstacles the project faces in the early phases. Right now they only have terrestrial vertebrates and North American freshwater fish mapped, but the interface is excellent and has a lot of potential! Now to get some insects into the project…

Most research papers only discuss results and experiments that worked. The Canadian Field Naturalists Blog discusses the importance of publishing projects which didn’t work as expected.

Just because it’s summer vacation for undergraduate university students, doesn’t mean their professors get a break too. Chris Buddle outlines some of his labs plans for the summer.

To get a job in academia, your peers (and more importantly, your hiring committees) need to know you and your work. But is all self-promotion viewed equally? Excellent discussion on the evolving role of social media and blogging to the world of academia by Scicurious.

Photography & Other Fun Stuff

Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to be a press photographer tasked with covering President Obama? This account by a Reuters photographer shows just how stressful the assignment can be.

I don’t know who started it, but the #InsectSongs suggested by Twitter users this week was an afternoon of hilarity. Check out some of my favourites, and then see which ones Bug Girl selected.

Finally, enjoy this fun stop-motion video detailing the everyday lives of insects.


1- If you need more convincing why you should sign up for Twitter, here’s another excellent piece on the benefits of Twitter for academics

2- Ed Yong, and Bora Zivkovic do extensive weekly link round-ups covering a very broad spectrum of science writing if you need something else to read this weekend!

Dec 122011

In the past few months, the topic of scientists taking to the netwaves to broadcast their ideas, opinions and research has been a popular topic. Here’s a list of some of the different discussions that I’ve found regarding scientists participating in social media.

Christie Wilcox (Cell & Molecular Biology Grad Student)  – Science Sushi

Christie did  a series of excellent posts on the topic, explaining why she felt that all/most scientists should try and reach out in some manner.
Part 1: It’s Our Job
Part 2: You Do Have Time
Part 2.5: Breaking Stereotypes
Part 3: Win-Win

Being scientists, other bloggers had differing opinions on Christie’s series, and made interesting counterpoints.

Steven Hamblin (Evolutionary Biology Post-Doc) – A Bit of Behavioural Ecology
Science communication? I wish it were that easy…
The economics of science blogging

Kevin Zelnio (Marine Biologist) – EvoEcoLab
On Naïveté Among Scientists Who Wish to Communicate

It’s not just science bloggers expounding the need for researchers to take to social media, with two short opinion/editorial pieces recently published in Nature highlighting social media’s role in scientific discourse.

Time to Tweet – Gaston Small, Nature 479, November 2, 2011
The press under pressure – Editorial, Nature 480, December 8, 2011

My fellow insect bloggers have also chimed in of course!

Bug Girl (Internet Insect Pundit/Comedienne) – Bug Girl’s Blog
How to become an online social media goddess (and transcript)

Alex Wild (Formicidologist/Insect Photographer) – Myrmecos
So you want to be a bug blogger

The Geek in Question (Insect Ecology Grad Student) – The Bug Geek
Information exchange (and stuff, too) via social media

At the recent Entomological Society of America meeting, University of Guelph graduate student Laura Burns spoke to several entomologists interested in social media, and the video of these talks was just shared on the Entomological Society of America YouTube channel.

I’m sure that this list isn’t nearly comprehensive, so if you have written science & social media, or know of someone else who has, please let me know and I’ll update the list!