Category: bioblitz

nanonaturalist:

pterygota:

theres some fun stuff going on in the iNatters of tumblr project!

for anyone interested, theres a scavenger hunt up, as well as badges for fulfilling objectives!

for those who dont know, iNatters of tumblr is a project stated by @nanonaturalist​ to encourage people to use iNaturalist. you can see the original post about starting the project here. i have since become a co-admin of the project.

if youre not already a part of it but want to be involved, we welcome you to join! create an account on inaturalist.org and let us (me, @pterygota​ or kuchipatchis on iNat, or @nanonaturalist​ or nanofishology on iNat) know you want to be included so we can add you to the project, because hitting “join” on the project page allows you to watch the project, but not to be included. that has to be done by us manually.

theres much more information you can see by following the link, but if you havent looked, the scavenger hunt will fun for the next two months, and heres the list:

  • An example of camouflage
  • A plant growing out from the water
  • A mushroom
  • A fish
  • A pupa
  • Something fuzzy
  • Something spiky
  • Something having a meal
  • A symbiotic relationship
  • Something growing on or out of a man-made object
  • An animal with more than 8 legs
  • An animal with no legs
  • Something that lives in a shell
  • Something yellow and black
  • Something brown and white
  • Something purple and green
  • Something really common in your area
  • Something not native to your area
  • A bee native to your area
  • Something classified as a threatened species
  • A feather
  • An animal track
  • Mating behavior
  • A plant gall
  • A leaf mine

you can post the scavenger hunt list with links to your corresponding observations for each item on your tumblr blog and/or iNaturalist journal. please note that posting your observations to tumblr may mean giving out personal location information to a larger audience, so use discretion if posting to there. we may make posts featuring observations from the scavenger hunt, but will check with you for permission before doing so.

feel free to shoot a message if you have any questions, and if you are reading this, we would LOVE for you to participate!

Fun Scavenger Hunt is underway!!!

Join us over on iNaturalist to participate, and let me or @pterygota know if you need to be added to the project (the join button just lets you watch it, one of us needs to manually add you!)

You can add the badges to your iNat profile page as you earn them 😀

Have fun!

August 30, 2019

I’m not really participating, but here’s an oak gall wasp, Andricus quercusfoliatus:

Hint: it’s the thing that’s not an acorn, but is where one should be (lower left of the two non-leaf things).

This is on the live oak in my front yard. These are super common, and the wasps are teeny-tiny!

September 2, 2019

pterygota:

theres some fun stuff going on in the iNatters of tumblr project!

for anyone interested, theres a scavenger hunt up, as well as badges for fulfilling objectives!

for those who dont know, iNatters of tumblr is a project stated by @nanonaturalist​ to encourage people to use iNaturalist. you can see the original post about starting the project here. i have since become a co-admin of the project.

if youre not already a part of it but want to be involved, we welcome you to join! create an account on inaturalist.org and let us (me, @pterygota​ or kuchipatchis on iNat, or @nanonaturalist​ or nanofishology on iNat) know you want to be included so we can add you to the project, because hitting “join” on the project page allows you to watch the project, but not to be included. that has to be done by us manually.

theres much more information you can see by following the link, but if you havent looked, the scavenger hunt will fun for the next two months, and heres the list:

  • An example of camouflage
  • A plant growing out from the water
  • A mushroom
  • A fish
  • A pupa
  • Something fuzzy
  • Something spiky
  • Something having a meal
  • A symbiotic relationship
  • Something growing on or out of a man-made object
  • An animal with more than 8 legs
  • An animal with no legs
  • Something that lives in a shell
  • Something yellow and black
  • Something brown and white
  • Something purple and green
  • Something really common in your area
  • Something not native to your area
  • A bee native to your area
  • Something classified as a threatened species
  • A feather
  • An animal track
  • Mating behavior
  • A plant gall
  • A leaf mine

you can post the scavenger hunt list with links to your corresponding observations for each item on your tumblr blog and/or iNaturalist journal. please note that posting your observations to tumblr may mean giving out personal location information to a larger audience, so use discretion if posting to there. we may make posts featuring observations from the scavenger hunt, but will check with you for permission before doing so.

feel free to shoot a message if you have any questions, and if you are reading this, we would LOVE for you to participate!

Fun Scavenger Hunt is underway!!!

Join us over on iNaturalist to participate, and let me or @pterygota know if you need to be added to the project (the join button just lets you watch it, one of us needs to manually add you!)

You can add the badges to your iNat profile page as you earn them 😀

Have fun!

August 30, 2019

bunjywunjy:

elodieunderglass:

note-a-bear:

xandanyarmyx:

lettingthewaterholdmedown:

awfullynice-hq:

godtsol:

Brazilian porcupine (Coendou prehensilis)

you haven’t really lived if you’ve never heard a porcupine 📢

Oh dear god, I had no idea they sounded like that!

Oh my god!!!!! 😍😍😍😍

Fill his basket, you monsters

oh my god it’s the FRETFUL PORPENTINE!!

god can you imagine walking through a forest at night and you hear a sound in the trees like an elderly man trying to get peanut butter off his dentures

I was out at Amistad National Recreation Area (WAAAAY West Texas, bordering on Mexico), and we were mothing well into the night. Occasionally, some members of our mothing party would wander off and go looking for wildlife they could harass. Suddenly, I hear a noise.

People around me are like, “What is that?” and I’m like “PORCUPINE!!!!!!” while RUNNING towards the trees. And people are still like, “Wtf is that???” and I STILL have to SCREAM “PORCUPINE!!!!!” because really, you cannot mistake a porcupine noise for anything else.

This is a North American Porcupine. He was not too happy to have 20+ naturalists show up and start photographing him. We didn’t bother him for too long, though.

If you want to hear the noises, I put the audio recording up on my iNaturalist observation page [link]. Just click over to the audio icon and press play!

July 5, 2019

nanonaturalist:

yellowgnomeboots:

nanonaturalist:

nanonaturalist:

theresonlyzuul:

nanonaturalist:

mossworm:

I cannot stress enough that you do not need a degree to become a naturalist / discover new species… you just need to care about living things and have a passion for them. Going to college just gets you closer to good resources (museum collections and career biologists) but you do not NEED a degree to access either of those things. 

It can be useful to get one if you can! But you do not NEED one and there is no time limit for getting one.

FYI to all my followers: I am not a “real” entomologist

I went to college and have a masters degree… in engineering.

I have never taken any course in animal biology, taxonomy, let alone entomology.

Everything I know about nature and wildlife, I learned by myself because I was interested in these topics. I went out on guided hikes the state parks put on with experts, and I made connections with people who had gone to college and studied wildlife biology.

I raised moth and butterfly eggs I found in my yard, sometimes hatching parasites instead. I reached out to people online through bugguide forums and via iNaturalist, and got to submit parasitic wasps that hadn’t yet been documented in Io moth eggs, to the entomologist at Texas A&M University who was revising the genus they were in—before I could have told you the difference between an assassin bug and a leaf-footed bug. I raised stick insects I found in my yard, and ended up shipping some to a real entomologist who had never photographed the species, and needed one for a field guide he is writing.

You will be amazed what resources you have available to you if you just ask. Lamenting your lack of access to museum specimens in the back storage areas? Contact the curator for your area of interest at your local museum, explain you are an amateur x-ologist, and you are interested in studying y species. Is there a time you could arrange to view the collections? THEY WILL SAY YES!!!! You’re a high school student, worried they won’t take you seriously? EVEN BETTER, THEY WILL LOVE YOU!!! Aim for a university collection if there is one nearby.

College is great if that’s your thing, but it won’t make you a naturalist. You will make you a naturalist.

June 27, 2019

GOD YES THIS *slams fist on table*

I have a degree in animation and I’ve worked for ten years as natural history curator in various natural history museums, with entomology being my focus. You definitely don’t need a science degree as long as you’re willing to learn.

Also, as a natural history curator I can confirm that we WILL say yes if you want to study the collections. That’s what museums are there for!

I will add!

I have a friend who got his PhD in physics who was the entomology curator at a natural history museum for several years, and currently works as a research scientist in an entomology research lab at a university. He studies the various ways insects manipulate light with nano-structured features on their bodies (hey, physics!) to understand how they might be able to see their environment.

Whatever skills you already have are useful for whatever naturalist-centric lifestyle you want to lead! I’ve got the adhd hyperfixation curse and a penchant for staying online for 36+ hours straight. Of course I surged to the top of the iNaturalist leaderboards (and doing my bug IDs on there is how I learned everything I know!).

What skills do you have? How can you use them to be a naturalist? Who can you network with to put those skills to work in a way that’s meaningful for you? The naturalist community is full of people with a common mission. Any newcomer is welcomed with open arms and we love helping newbies.

June 28, 2019

A news article about people like me (and you?!):

Link to article: Species Sleuths: Amateur Naturalists Spark a New Wave of Discovery

June 28, 2019

I don’t really know that much about bugs, I mostly just like looking at them. But one day i went “what the F is that?!??!” And contacted the museum in case this weird thing was a biosecurity risk, and it wasn’t, but now I have the second known population of this bug in my country living in my garden and a bunch of the ones I caught are preserved in the museum.

So even just paying attention to what’s around you while being moderately familiar with your insect ID book can have cool results.

^ This

We have no idea how many species of insects there are. One estimate is that we have discovered fewer than half of the known species of insects and other arthropods, and we have have already driven many more to extinction without ever having known about them.

I found io moth eggs in my yard, which hatched wasps instead of caterpillars. I couldn’t find any info online about egg parasites for io moths. Now those wasps are sitting in a museum collection. I need to check in with the wasp guy to see if he determined their species!

The reason so few insect species have been discovered is there are so few scientists with the funding to go out looking for them. That’s where we come in! Go outside, enjoy a nice walk around your yard, a park, a garden, anywhere. Look around you. Look for patterns, and see if you notice something strange or unusual! If you find something? Reach out! A local museum is a great start. Another option (a fav of mine) is iNaturalist.

Fun story: the emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle in the US that is driving ash trees to extinction in the eastern part of the country, and it’s slowly spreading west. A couple years ago, a 10 year old kid took a picture of one in Dallas, TX, way outside of where it had been seen, and posted it on iNat. Authorities were alerted, and they were able to monitor the area, confirm the presence of larvae, and they are taking measures to contain and prevent their spread. Without this kid, we wouldn’t know the beetles were there until the trees started dying, because Dallas is so far west of where the beetles had been seen!

Link to article about discovery of the beetle, featuring my IRL nature friend Sam Kieschnick! [link]

This kid changed the course of history for our state’s ecosystem by taking photos of that beetle.

Anybody can do the same!

June 28, 2019

Edited to add photo and link to story about the EAB discovery

Sup @murdereyesnicky, iNaturalist covers all forms of life! If it’s alive, it counts!

Here are some of my plant observations on iNaturalist [link]:

The fun thing is the iNaturalist website/app will guess what you took a picture of, so you immediately have an idea of what you might be seeing, and then other users of iNaturalist will come in and identify what you saw. The pictures with the green banner under the photos are ones where several people came in and provided IDs, sufficiently enough that the records can be used for scientists using the data on iNaturalist for research!

Also, @inaturalist is on tumblr! They (and by they, I mean Tony) post the observations of the week on there, and it’s always amazing to see what people are finding around the world. I know Tony, too–he came to a bioblitz Sam K. organized in Del Rio (I love Sam) and had us test out a new version of a project type on iNat before they launched it. Tony put up a video from the bioblitz here [link to video].

That’s Tony on the right, observing a ground snake [link].

Anyways. Yes, iNaturalist. Plants. Wonderful. I love. Perfect.

June 30, 2019

slytherfriends:

nanonaturalist:

thelepidopteragirl:

zoologicallyobsessed:

Anyways where’s my lgbt scientists at? Let’s talk about how we’re queer + scientists.

yoo

Y’all I am so queer but the last time I tried to date it was a disaster (she lied about being interested in bugs to initially catch my attention–then literally screamed when I booped a spider in my yard and asked what I use for pest control… um), so I’ll stick to kissing caterpillars and moths until I run into another hot mess crawling through the bushes with a camera.

April 7, 2019

i’m not a biologist (i wish! i should’ve become a herpetologist tbh) but i’m a lesbian working in STEM! (r&d engineering)

‘Sup. I’m a chemical engineer and worked in polymer/advanced materials R&D before my company moved out of Texas and left me unemployed. I did my masters in Biomedical Engineering, but otherwise have no formal education in biology besides my Texas Master Naturalist training (it’s a volunteer-based service organization). I talk about biology for fun cuz why not?

You can still go chasing herps on the weekends! Hobbies are a thing! I met up with other people interested in nature during bioblitzes (some are professional wildlife biologists, some are just in it for fun like me), and it was a great way to learn more and visit new places. City Nature Challenge is coming up (last weekend of April), and a lot of places will have these kinds of events if you’re interested!

citynaturechallenge.org

April 8, 2019

nanonaturalist:

BioBlitz! Tonight! DFW, TX Area

Sharing this somewhat last minute (well, technically it’s in 16.5 hours), but there is a BioBlitz in Keller, TX at 5 pm on Saturday, Sept 29. The blitz is in celebration of a wonderful iNatter’s birthday, and all of the cool Texas iNat peeps will be there. Details like location and contact info are here! [link]

The blitz is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, and please don’t think it would be weird to randomly show up to somebody’s birthday party and stay home. The best gift you can give to a Citizen Scientist is… to do citizen science in their honor! And if you want to learn how to use iNat, there is no better group of people to be with.

In the area? Want to come? Worried you’ll be awkward and weird? Make it a challenge! Try to out-awkward/out-weird me! (You can’t)

Not in the area/not available/sad to miss out? That’s okay! We do BioBlitzes all the time, and there will be more, trust me!

September 28/29, 2018

3 am, just got back (what, did you think DFW and Austin were even remotely close to each other???)

and oh man

HUGE puffballs

More tree crickets than you could shake a stick at

frogs

All three variants of the ashy gray lady beetle (on ONE moth sheet!!)

Curve lined owlet moth caterpillar!!!

the fuzziest/fattest bumble ever

Scorpions!

The 2018 DFW Spider Wasp Convention

An abandoned mosquito-infested grotto

And some humans, one of whom was wearing a So Many Moths shirt 😍, and another of whom is trying to hook me up with a TPWD job where I’d get paid to lead bioblitzes 🤤

Anyway, more photos at some point. My backlog just keeps getting longer!!

September 30, 2018

BioBlitz! Tonight! DFW, TX Area

Sharing this somewhat last minute (well, technically it’s in 16.5 hours), but there is a BioBlitz in Keller, TX at 5 pm on Saturday, Sept 29. The blitz is in celebration of a wonderful iNatter’s birthday, and all of the cool Texas iNat peeps will be there. Details like location and contact info are here! [link]

The blitz is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, and please don’t think it would be weird to randomly show up to somebody’s birthday party and stay home. The best gift you can give to a Citizen Scientist is… to do citizen science in their honor! And if you want to learn how to use iNat, there is no better group of people to be with.

In the area? Want to come? Worried you’ll be awkward and weird? Make it a challenge! Try to out-awkward/out-weird me! (You can’t)

Not in the area/not available/sad to miss out? That’s okay! We do BioBlitzes all the time, and there will be more, trust me!

September 28/29, 2018

@inaturalist posted the video from our Southwest Texas Bioblitz this past April [link to iNat blog post about the trip]. I can’t believe it was so long ago, it still feels like yesterday! :’) Check out all our observations! [link to iNat project]

In the above footage, you may observe me and my bffs in our natural habitat, chasing after bugs and staring at cactii. I’m the one in the horrible striped button-down and/or horrible floppy red hat, both of which I love.

A couple highlights in the video!
At 1:05Acanthocephala alata sighted! My first one! 
At 1:43 – How many sphinx moths can I get on one hand?!

Some of my posts from this trip:
Rushed Del Rio Photo Update [link]
West Texas Desert Landscapes [link]

August 29, 2018

Carnivorous plants! All three species shown above are native to Texas, and the pitcher plant is endangered.

Top three photos: Pale Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia alata). Very large! These are filled with a digestive juice, when unfortunate insects fall inside, the plant digests them for nutrition. They grow in thick dense bushy clusters, and some were taller than me! We had to crawl through the swamp to get to them, but it was WORTH IT. I was so overwhelmed by awesomeness that I forgot to look inside! One of the guys on this trip did look into them, and saw a jumping spider chilling at the mouth of one to catch any bugs that were able to climb out.

Bottom three photos: Dwarf Sundew (Drosera brevifolia, left) and Pink Sundew (Drosera capillaris, right and bottom). Very small! These plants catch insects with their sticky sap fingers (not the technical term, what do I look like, a botanist??). These also tend to grow in swampy marshy areas, but I’ve seen them in fields that are dry most of the year.

Photos from Summer/Fall 2017; Posted August 5, 2018

Yo! I’m an Anthropology student but I’m super fascinated with entomology n’ the like. Any tips for how to self study entomology/get started? How did you become the bug lover you are today?

Sup! I am a HUGE animal lover. Like, I don’t think you understand how much I love animals. Back when google image search was this crazy new thing, I would google things like “puffer fish” and literally start crying from how cute and precious they were. I don’t remember ever not liking bugs. I was bringing in caterpillars when my age was single digits, which I named and kept in shoe boxes, and who would invariably wander out and make a random cocoon somewhere.

STORY TIME! (what? you wanted a short answer? Sorry!)

… (actually check out this post from a while back [link] about tips for getting started, it was written for a high school student but most of the things I mention are good for all ages)…

Thing is, this was the point in history when you needed to use a card catalog to look a book up in the library. No idea what I’m talking about? That’s how long ago this was. If there was a book about bugs in the school book order form, I would ask for it (and sometimes I’d get one), but that was the full extent of my knowledge pool for things that we weren’t directly taught about in school. In 4th grade, we had a unit on marine animals (with the most amazing field trip on a research boat ever, omg the scuba divers brought up things for us to touch, and we got to look at plankton in the microscope eeeeeee!), and it was like I was reborn. I memorized everything we learned, including the taxonomy of cnidaria (jellies, anemones, corals) and strange eating habits of echinoderms (starfish, urchins). I got REAL into this stuff, to the point where 4 years later, I told anybody who asked me that when I grew up, I was going to get a PhD in Marine Biology.

There was just one problem. You can’t get a degree in any kind of animal biology without doing dissections or killing things. Remember, I’m an animal Lover with a capital L. I wanted to be a vegetarian starting at age 4 (parents said no, but I picked meat out of everything until I made it official at 12). So I gave up on biology real quick. Flash forward about ten years to 2006. I had graduated from college (with a psychology degree that cost me $70,000), was working soul-sucking jobs, and needed a hobby. But wait, DIGITAL CAMERAS ARE A THING! WOW! So I picked up “crappy nature photography” as a hobby. And what did I take pictures of with my First Ever Digital Camera when I bought one that summer?

image

I found this longhorn beetle on the hood of my car at a rest stop somewhere in the middle of nowhere, Missouri. But back in 2006… What are you going to do with pictures of bugs when you have no background in biology? I posted some on LiveJournal, and that was that. What kind of bug was it? I couldn’t even tell you that it was a beetle at that point. And when I was going through my old photos more recently, I couldn’t even remember seeing it.

I still took photos of basically everything I saw, but nothing ever really happened with them.

image

Who are these? At the time (photos are from 2006 to 2009), the most I could have told you was “dragonfly, wasp, spider, caddisfly larva.” Which is pretty good, I guess, but I didn’t even realize how much diversity I was missing out on by not going any deeper. 

image

Me + Slugs: Left – Banana Slug in Redwood National Forest, CA (2008); Center and Right – Chocolate Arion Slug at my apartment in Redmond, WA (2006)

Time passes, nature photos are taken. I will take photos of any bug I see, but I don’t intentionally seek them out and I never know what any of them are. Now flash forward to 2013, when I moved from Seattle, WA to Austin, TX. 

image

My mind was blown. The bugs were huge, strange, and EVERYWHERE. I NEEDED TO KNOW WHAT THEY WERE! But… It was still hard. At this point, looking things up on the internet was just what you did, but … what was I supposed to look up? “Giant screaming thing in my potted plant that looks like a leaf?” “Pile of handsnails?” I took pictures, shared them on Facebook (nobody used Livejournal anymore!), and went about my day. 

At this point, I had gone back to college to study engineering (I moved to Austin for grad school), and somehow ended up watching a lot of youtube. SciShow got me onto VlogBrothers, which got me onto The Brain Scoop (@thebrainscoop), which got me onto tumblr *waves*. And I was thinking some hard thoughts about what I actually wanted to do when I grew up because I was tired of soul-sucking jobs. Hey, I love museums (that’s actually where most of my science knowledge came from), so I started thinking about careers in science museums, and I followed UT’s collection page on Facebook. One day in 2015, they shared an event for a Bioblitz, sponsored by several groups associated with UT and Texas Parks and Wildlfie. What’s a Bioblitz? I had no idea. So I clicked. 

Basically, you take as many pictures of living things as you can. There were subject matter experts who would lead you on hikes and tell you what things were and how you can tell them apart (WAIT, WHAT?!?). The event required that you download this new nature app called iNaturalist (@inaturalist), which is where you would post the photos you took. With the data you posted from the app, other users of the website would identify your photos, and the state park we were at would use that data to create species checklists to track what occurred there. Your iNat account kept a permanent log of all of your observations. I tend to be extremely skeptical/resistant to new technologies and being told to do things, so at first I wanted to know what was wrong with the way I took photos NOW, I didn’t need some stupid website telling me what to do.

But then I started testing it out before the event.

image

Two of my first iNat observations (both butterflies). Left: Henry’s Elfin caterpillar; Right: American Lady butterfly. Links to iNat observations.

I had no idea where to start with identifying either of these, and the Henry’s Elfin caterpillar took me a few years to ID myself. But the American Lady? People told me what it was within hours of me posting it. Within hours.

About a week later, the Bioblitz happened. It was perfect. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people who were just like me. They wanted to go on long slow walks through nature, turning over logs and walking directly into ponds and poking at insects, all while taking photos of things and identifying them. I was spending the weekend with real life biologists and I was learning everything I could. And the things I saw?

image

HOLY CARP. Texas has dung beetles?! (top left) Parasitic wasps REALLY DO THAT? (braconid wasp cocoons on inchworm caterpillar, top right) Diving beetles?! (water scavenger beetle, bottom left) Giant fishing spiders?! (bottom right)

This event was the moment I “got started” with entomology. I regularly used iNaturalist, and in the process of trying to identify my observations with BugGuide.net [link], I quickly began to learn some of the “basics.” For example, stink bugs are a thing. So are green lacewings. And there are a LOT more kinds of spiders than orbweavers and wolf spiders (who knew?). I was so smitten with iNaturalist that I professed my love for all to read on tumblr [link] (all being… 3 people?). I used iNaturalist regularly, but still, unless I was on a bioblitz, I didn’t seek things out. I mentioned I was a grad student, right?

Then 2016 rolls around. I’ve had enough of school and drop master out of my program. I get a Real Engineering Job and Buy a House with a Yard. I started my new job when I was finishing up my thesis (probably not the best idea…) and so my back yard took on a life of its own. By the time I had finished my thesis, the grass was hip height, and the HOA had no rules about what my back yard had to look like, so I just never mowed it. And the bugs… oh man, the bugs. The bugs were good. By January 2017, I was getting more confident in my Bug Knowledge, and I was using iNaturalist every week. I had joined clubs centered around nature (Texas Master Naturalists and Travis Audubon). I signed up for a birding trip in Malawi. Then in April, I found a pile of butterfly eggs and a chrysalis. And the guy leading the Malawi trip (one of the directors at Travis Audubon) asked me to do an insect table at their outreach event. Then City Nature Challenge 2017 happened (and I am *very* competitive). And… uh… I guess I just never looked back?

image

The thing to remember here is: the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. What I love about iNaturalist is that I can create a time capsule showing what I did and didn’t know at the time. And what I didn’t know is… really amazing. I taught the entomology class for my Master Naturalist chapter’s training course this year, and I told the people in the class that one year ago, I didn’t know any of the things I was going to talk to them about. I know it sounds like I’m putting on a commercial for iNaturalist (which is actually exactly what I’m doing, I love that website), but besides the curiosity about nature that I had to begin with, iNaturalist is the single most important thing that has enabled me to nurture and grow my love for our invertebrate friends.

Through my use of iNaturalist, I have met real people and made real friendships. Many of the people I meet are professionally biologists, but there are just as many randos like me who crawled out of the internet to hang out with nature freaks. One of the great things about this community is there is no elitism, and even professional entomologists are just as willing to admit they have no idea what something is and will listen to me explain what I know, as they are to explain something I don’t know and answer my questions. The people I have met are absolutely awesome, and the general attitude people on iNat (online and in person) tend to have has really rubbed off on me. If someone I’m talking to doesn’t know something that tends to be commonly known (example: my coworker is a gardener, but hadn’t heard about the ant/aphid relationship), oh boy, it’s awesome, let me TELL YOU about ANTS fighting off PREDATORS so they can DRINK APHID PEE!!!

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Above: Crematogaster ants farming keeled treehopper nymphs on sunflower SO THEY CAN DRINK THEIR PEE

One of the best things you can do to get more into entomology is to just be observant. Look. Notice patterns. Pay attention to relationships between “higher” and “lower” organisms. When you travel, look there too. What is different from home? What’s similar?

The other best thing: meet people. Find groups/clubs for people into nature. Go on hikes with entomologists. Go to “nature days” events (these are always geared towards kids, but ADULTS ARE WELCOME!). A lot of nature clubs and organizations are heavy on the retiree demographic, which means the meetings may not be easy to learn about online. I actually joined the Austin Butterfly Forum after hearing about it from the people I was sitting next to at a Travis Audubon event (Victor Emanuel’s autobiography had just published and he kicked off his book tour with a live interview in Austin), and I’ve met several new friends through ABF. 

I don’t even know how to explain it, but naturalists are a totally different flavor than any other person I’ve known. It’s like, there are other people who would rather be crawling through the swamp in 105°F weather for 8 hours straight than sit and watch TV? There are other people who will skip two meals and stay up until 2 am to get really good bug pictures? I mean, I can’t describe what it feels like to be slowly picking through the deserts of west Texas with 15 other people, when one of them yells, “SNAKE!” and suddenly EVERYBODY RUNS TOWARDS THE SNAKE AND IMPATIENTLY WAITS THEIR TURN TO HOLD HIM. 

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I know this is long and maybe not entirely what you were expecting, @marichuu, but want to make sure that anybody reading this knows that if you like nature, even if you don’t know very much about it now, there are a ton of people like me and those weirdos up there who are so excited to share the world with you that you can’t even imagine it now. Want to stay online because you’re nervous about meeting new people? That’s great! Tons of us are online! But if you’re ready to put yourself out there and meet people in person, chances are, they’re awesome and will love answering your questions (and if they’re not awesome tell me and I’ll YELL AT THEM FOR YOU YOU DESERVE BETTER). 

Anyway. Bugs are awesome and I hope they think you are just as awesome. Also anthropology is super neat and there’s a lot of intersections with entomology [link] that you can look at from an interesting angle.

Posted June 4, 2018