Sunday, December 23, 2018

Happy Holidays and What Lies Ahead

Work, work, activism. That is what Bug Eric has been up to lately, and mostly what the immediate future holds in store. I just added a new page to this blog, though, and can share with you some upcoming events near and far that you might want to be aware of in 2019. Happy New Year!

Guava Skipper from Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas, demonstrating the "rule of thirds" in photography

My good friend Nancy Miorelli created a wonderful handout on how to take great images of insects and arachnids with your smartphone. You can find that document under the tab above, entitled "Take Great Bug Pics." Many of the tips she gives also apply to photography in general, so please check it out. Nancy is an outstanding science communicator, gifted artist, and tour guide if you ever want to visit her in Ecuador.

Specimens awaiting my attention....

Right now I am busy identifying all manner of arthropods, from insects to spiders to millipedes and woodlice and amphipods from pitfall trap samples taken in Miami, Florida. This is part of a nationwide project funded by a National Science Foundation grant and there are more stakeholders than I can count. Once the results are compiled, I'll let you know the outcome. Meanwhile, what are snails doing in here....

You'll only see the Mexican Bluewing along the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas

The continuing saga of the border wall, especially in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of south Texas, is a nightmare for those of us who value not only the rights of global citizens to seek asylum from violence and abuse in their countries of origin, but for the wildlife and ecology of this unique region. The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas has become the center of the storm, both figuratively and literally. I urge you to visit their website to understand what is at stake, and to see updates to the travesty that is unfolding and how you can act to stop it. This has ceased to be about politics and has become a situation of wanton destruction and abuse of power.

A lovely native sweat bee, Agapostemon sp.

Locally, the Mile High Bug Club just announced the formation of a chapter in Denver, Colorado (club headquarters are in Colorado Springs). Mark your calendars for the kickoff, on Sunday, February 10, at 6 PM (to 8 PM), at Highlands Event Center, 3401 W. 29th Ave., Denver, 80211. Chapter founder Ryan Bartlett will be giving a presentation on native bees for your entertainment and education. Watch this blog for announcements of other events, including a behind-the-scenes visit to the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster.

Buprestis langii, a type of jewel beetle

I will be giving a presentation about "Colorful Colorado....Beetles!" for the Aiken Audubon Society at Bear Creek Nature Center in Colorado Springs on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, 7-9 PM. This should be a nice preview for the Mile High Bug Club's annual tiger beetle hunt, which usually takes place in April at Lake Pueblo State Park, dates and times to be announced.

Pleasing Fungus Beetles

Additionally, Denver, Boulder, Ft. Collins, Golden, and Colorado Springs are participating in the 2019 City Nature Challenge. The event is like a bioblitz, with participating individuals taking images of plants, animals, fungi, and other organisms April 26-29, and then uploading the observations to iNaturalist where experts will help identify them, April 30-May 5. The event started several years ago as a challenge between Los Angeles and San Francisco and has now grown to a global scale. Check the website to find out if your city is participating.

Birds are ok....except when they eat the bugs!

The Pikes Peak Birding and Nature Festival will celebrate its fifth anniversary from Friday evening, May 17-Sunday afternoon, May 19. Please consider attending to visit some of our more spectacular natural wonders, view local specialties like Black-billed Magpie,and check out the blacklighting for moths, presented by Mile High Bug Club. MHBC will also have a table at the "Birds and Brews" social event Saturday night, May 18. All field trips will originate in Colorado Springs.

Come "mothing" with Mile High Bug Club
© Amanda Accamando

The Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History will be hosting its ever-popular Bug Fair, also the weekend of May 18-19. The museum regularly breaks attendance records with this shindig. I may make an appearance to sign copies of Insects Did it First and the Kaufman field guide, as well as promote Mile High Bug Club to a larger audience. It is well worth the visit despite the crowds. One year I met Dominic Monaghan of Lost fame. You never know who you might run into....

White Peacock butterfly from Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas

I will try and resolve to put up more posts here in 2019 than I did in 2018, but I make no promises. What are your resolutions for the new year? I hope they include continuing to explore, be it a new state, province, or country, or even a local park or your backyard. There are so many discoveries still awaiting us. You might be the one to find something new or shed new light on the familiar.