New blogs of note

Every now and then, I like to feature some of the more interesting blogs that I’ve encountered recently. This update features six blogs – five dealing with entomology and one dealing with herpetology.

Aphonopelma: Tarantulas of the United States

© Kory Roberts

Aphonopelma: Tarantulas of the United States is a relatively new blog by Michael D. Warriner. With only a single U.S. genus (Aphonoplema), this may seem a rather narrow scope for a blog.  However, as Michael points out, research on ecology, conservation, and taxonomy of U.S. tarantulas has been surprisingly limited.  Their taxonomy, in particular, has been quite problematic, making accurate species identifications almost impossible.  Michael has begun summarizing known distributional information for states from which tarantulas are known (Missouri south to Louisiana and west to California) and providing detailed discussions for selected species with an eye towards enabling better conservation efforts for this neglected group of spiders.

Nature Closeups

© Troy Bartlett

Nature Closeups is the new blog by insect photographer extarordinaire and BugGuide (“a community for fellow naturalists devoted specifically to arthropods”) founder Troy Bartlett.  Featuring stunning photographs of mostly insects from his home near Atlanta, Georgia and his frequent trips to Brazil, Troy often adds interesting details about the natural history behind the photo.  As Troy explains, photography is “more a means than an end. Looking over the photographs afterwards and researching the things I’ve found is even more rewarding.”  Those with a lot of confidence in their insect identification skills may wish to try their hand at Troy’s occasional identification challenges (prepare to be humbled!).

Up Close With Nature

© Kurt (a.k.a. orionmystery)

Up Close with Nature by Kurt (a.k.a. orionmystery) is one of my favorite insect macrophotography blogs.  Kurt lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, giving him access to an insect fauna that is extraordinary in both its diversity and beauty.  Kurt uses the stunning insects of this rich fauna to share with readers his excellent tips and techniques for insect macrophotography.  His latest post features one of the best explanations I have seen on the use of Flash Exposure Compensation in Macro Photography, and previous posts have given me some great ideas on diffusers and the use of backgrounds to optimize flash lighting.  If you’re interested in the science of insect macrophotography, you will enjoy this blog.

Living With Insects

© Jonathan Neal

Living With Insects is the new blog by Jonathan Neal, Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010).  Jonathan is interested in exploring the intersections of people and insects, and though he just began blogging a month ago he has already covered such topics as the evolution of insect flight, the consequences of virus infection in domestic cricket colonies, insects and burial practices, raising monarchs, insect cuticle, and the importance of insect museums.  It’s a daily dose of erudition!


© Alison Bockoven

6legs2many is written by Alison Bockoven, an entomology graduate student at Texas A&M University.  While her research focuses on genetic variation in the foraging behavior of the red imported fire ant, Alison is also having fun discovering the broader field of entomology.  Her enthusiasm is palpable as she features some of the insects that she has encountered and the techniques used for their collection and curation.  Her latest post covers the Embioptera, or webspinners – a group that I, after nearly three decades as a practicing entomologist, still have not encountered.  By the way, the title of the blog is derived from this humorous quip by Joseph W. Krutch:

Two-legged creatures we are supposed to love as we love ourselves.  The four-legged, also, can come to seem pretty important.  But six legs are too many from the human standpoint.

Field Notes

© Bryan D. Hughes

Although I am a devout entomologist, I do enjoy a good herp blog, and Field Notes by Bryan D. Hughes is one of the best herp blogs that I’ve seen.  Focusing on Arizona’s venomous snakes, Bryan provides stunning photographs of these striking animals (heh heh… get it?) and other assorted reptiles and amphibians from that unique fauna.  As Bryan explains, “I like spending my Saturday nights in hot cars on dirt roads in the middle of nowhere, being attacked from all sides by mosquitoes while searching for deadly snakes.”  His dedication to these oft-misunderstood animals is clear by his role as a volunteer for snake relocation calls and his hope that his website will help local homeowners to become interested in native wildlife rather than killing it.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

20 thoughts on “New blogs of note

    • It really is amazing – 10 years ago we all did our studies in relative isolation, corresponding by email with others of like interest. Twenty years ago there wasn’t even that. I remember waiting anxiously for a return letter from some colleague to hear his opinion on something. The rate of information flow and learning we now enjoy is simply staggering.

  1. Thanks for the mention Ted! I have a few I will be adding to my reader as well. The first one on the tarantulas of the U.S. is of particular interest … anyone that’s spent any time with me recently knows that my complete ignorance of the various species of tarantulas I see while looking for snakes is a big annoyance. Let me know if you ever need me to keep an eye out for something with legs.

    • My pleasure, Bryan. Your area is invertebrate heaven – I couldn’t even begin to list all the cool 6+ legged critters that occur in southern Arizona. I’ve made three trips out that way in ’87, ’92, and ’98 – as you can see it has been far too long since my last visit. Anyway, if I ever do get back out there perhaps we could hook up for a day in the field.


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