Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Bug Fair 2023 Recap

I had not attended the annual Bug Fair at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (California) since about 2011, so I was overdue in seeing old friends and making new ones. Heidi and I had a wonderful time, and stayed in the area for the week afterwards to enjoy some of the natural areas in the greater Los Angeles region, as well as spend time socializing. The fair itself is a major event, one that regularly sets museum attendance records for the year. During the global pandemic, there was no Bug Fair until 2022, and even then it was a scaled-down version. This year it was back to full strength.

My table at the Bug Fair

Bug Fair happens the weekend before the Memorial Day weekend every year, and takes over two halls, plus the rotunda, and various outdoor extensions of the museum. It includes vendors of entomological supplies, live specimens, and preserved specimens. Many organizations and government agencies have tables as well, and there are a fair number of artists. I was the only author with a dedicated table.

Monarch Art, if I recall correctly
BioQuip Bugs, which was purchased when BioQuip folded
Greg Lewallen's booth
Micro Wilderness live insects and arachnids
We were next to a vendor selling carnivorous plants
The museum rotunda featured some educational exhibits
UC Riverside booth in the rotunda
Beetlelady's table display
Outside, on the back patio, museum personnel dressed as bugs played music for lunching guests

Lisa Gonzalez, one of my friends from prior Bug Fairs, is now the Program Manager of Invertebrates. Among her multiple talents is macro photography. Her images of museum specimens, taken with a focus stacking camera apparaatus, were on exhibit during the fair. I love that the interpretive text was in both English and Spanish.

I grossly underestimated the enduring popularity of the printed word, and sold out of some of my books the first day. The following day, we were taking prepaid orders and promising free shipping. I will know better next time, but when that will be is anyone's guess. I am currently working on another book, for which I do not yet have a publisher. An agent is reviewing the proposal, and hopefully we can begin shopping it around to various houses in the near future.

What do you do after a long day at the Bug Fair? Enjoy dinner out with Beetlelady, of course.

It was rejuvenating to see old friends like the Beetlelady, Dr. Stephanie Dole, who has built a pop-up insect museum she deploys at various venues upstate. She is also a gifted artist, cosplay enthusiast, and mother to two wonderful children.

Business cards I collected during the fair

I would highly recommend Bug Fair as an event worth planning a vacation around. The greater Los Angeles region has a surprising number of parks with unique flora and fauna, a perfect complement to the exotic specimens to be found at the fair. There are plenty of cultural experiences, too. Shoot, I'd go back for the churro cart in Long Beach alone.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

I Am Unable to Reply to Comments, and I'm Sorry

Visitors to this blog need to know that Blogger will no longer allow me to reply to your comments and questions on my posts, or even make my own comments. I understand your frustration, as it is mine, also. I can sometimes reply in a different browser than I normally use (Mozilla Firefox), but even that seems unreliable. Eventually, I want to have a dedicated author and writer website, where I can transfer this blog. Until then, I appreciate your understanding and patience. Let me address a few recurring themes, though.

I am forced to moderate comments because of a ridiculous amount of spam, mostly attempts at self-promotion by pest control companies, but many are other business interests that have no relation to the subject matter of this blog. I try and go through pending comments at least once per week. I will only delete comments if they contain profanity or defamatory content. If people have stories they want to share, good or bad, I am happy to entertain them. I appreciate what are mostly kind and appreciative comments. Thank you.

"Does it bite?" and "Will it hurt me/my pets/plants, etc?" are recurring queries. If I do not mention that the creature is threatening, then it is not, provided you do not handle it or try to kill it. There is always the possibility that you do not see the insect or arachnid and squash it accidentally, or it gets trapped in clothing...The more aware you are, the less likely you will have negative encounters with any animal.

"Can I post a picture...?" is also a query I receive routinely. I wish I was able to allow that, but the potential of hidden malware, even in links to images, prohibits this. What I can recommend instead is sharing your images on a website like iNaturalist or Bugguide. Both websites (and a complementary app in the case of iNaturalist) are free to join. The only danger is in getting addicted to everyone else's observations. Even Facebook interest groups, like "Insect ID," and Twitter (X), and Instagram are viable avenues for learning what your mystery creature is. The beauty of those other paths of inquiry is that you can receive multiple opinions, from professional entomologists and amateur naturalists alike.

I am using Google-generated advertising here for a meager revenue stream. I apologize for the intrusion of that advertising, but my former company sponsors no longer exist. I welcome alternatives to those ads.

Thank you again for your loyalty, and for tolerating the imperfections of this blog. I do plan on retaining the archive of posts at this URL for the forseeable future.