A day of milestones and thanks!

Today we celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving—a day for stepping back from our trivial concerns, giving thanks for those who enrich our lives, and showing renewed compassion for those less fortunate. Coincidentally, I celebrate today as well two milestones here at ‘Beetles in the Bush’—its 4th anniversary and its 500th post! It seems appropriate that this should occur on a day of thanks, as I owe a deep debt of gratitude to the readers of this blog for keeping me motivated through your comments and words of support. Four years and 500 posts is by no means a record—there are plenty of bloggers who have been around longer (and some who generate 500 posts in a single year!). Nevertheless, I’m starting to feel a bit like an “old-timer” in this relatively young pursuit with no thoughts of stopping anytime soon. I suppose I’m in it for the long haul.

To mark today’s milestones, I offer here a collage of thumbnails (click here to see full post)—each using an image from and linked to one of BitB’s previous 499 posts (with apologies to those of you who access this blog through dial-up). In the few cases where a post had no image I have used the generic Agelia petalii buprestid image that is this blog’s icon. If nothing else, the collage represents an interesting visual distillation of BitB in its entirety, but I hope you’ll take the opportunity to browse through the images and perhaps find some interesting posts that you may have missed the first time around. Thumbnails are arranged in order of post chronology (first to last)—hold the cursor over a thumbnail to see the post title, and click on the thumbnail to go to that post. Due to the huge number of hyperlinks in this post (uhm… 499 to be exact!), you might encounter one that does not link properly—I hope you’ll let me know if you encounter any such so that I may fix them.

Now also seems like a good time to solicit feedback on the direction of this blog—what you like about it and what you don’t. This is not pining for compliments, but a call for objective, constructive feedback. Maybe you’re not fond of certain subjects or have suggestions for topics you’d like to see more of. What about the balance between technical and enthusiast? Too wordy or jargony, or not academic enough? More quizzes or less (and should they be harder or easier)? If you prefer not to give this feedback in public, send me an email. BitB will never be all things to all people, but for those who do find something of interest here I’d like to do my best to provide content that is fun to read and appealing to look at.

Once again, thank you for your readership and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011

37 thoughts on “A day of milestones and thanks!

  1. Ted,
    BitB is, and always has been, one of my favorite reads. I’m also thankful for the personal time you’ve devoted to answering my rookie questions.

    I suppose I am the only “fledgling bug guy” in the world who is NOT interested in photography, so I’d never suggest that you eliminate those posts, since so many folks revel in that sort of information.

    Congratulations on #500. Keep on doing JUST what you’re doing, and come see me whenever you head south into the Ozarks.

  2. Hey Ted – Quadrennial & quincentennial felicitations! That is a powerful number of posts. And happy Thanksgiving too. I can’t claim I read every word you write on beetles, but I always look at the pictures.

    I’m a bit burned out on cropped photo contests and a bit worried that it may lead me to too much shooting from the hip in real life (my job involves providing reliable identifications), but I suppose as long as I keep getting them wrong, that is not too likely. Photo contests are useful for holding the fort for a couple of days, so I’d say keep doing them to your heart’s content.

    • Judging by the number of comments they garner, I’d have to say the quizzes are the most popular feature here. I like them also because, as you say they, are useful for holding down the fort for few days, but even more so because they provide a good gauge for the audience’s knowledge base – helps me fine tune just how technical I go with the follow up post.

  3. Congratulations, Ted! And a great idea make a collage to commemorate the event.

    I think your blog has good balance between photographs and information, and as an amateur I find them quite readable.

    Your ID challenges are difficult for an amateur (this is not a complaint!) but at least you are not going over the top by posting DNA sequences like the Wild ant guy. 😉

    I am curious about your readership, and I am wondering if you could set up a poll to determine just what kind of visitor actually reads your articles. Is it mostly fellow entomologists or other scientists? How many are just amateurs like myself? How many come for just the photos and how many actually read the posts through?

    ‘nuf said…Thanks for all the interesting posts and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

    • Ah, the big black box called ‘readership’. I wish I knew myself the answers to the questions you pose – my impression based on the range of comments left here is that readers range from lay nature enthusiasts to professional entomologists, but that the largest chunk is comprised of knowledgable amateurs (like you) and graduate students. I suspect this is a reflection of my own status as a ‘professional amateur’ – even though I work as entomologist, I write almost exlusively about avocational rather than professional interests. Of course, it’s possible that I’m off the mark since there is a much larger readership that is not inclined to leave comments and thus leaves few clues regarding who they are. I’m not sure a poll would tell me much about them either, since participation in such a poll would probably be largely limited to those that leave comments here anyway.

      I’m less interested in knowing how many readers actually read the posts as I am in making sure that, for the ones that do, the posts are interesting to read and informative without being overly technical. I would be surprised if the percentage that come only for the photos is that big, as my photos are mostly about documenting insects and their natural history – they support the writing rather than push the envelope of technical proficiency. I still consider myself an entomologist with a camera, not an insect macrophotographer.

  4. Happy Thanksgiving Day to you and your family Ted! Hopefully, we can get together next spring and see those glades up at calico Rock! Take care my friend!


  5. Congrats, Ted. It’s been a real pleasure tagging along with you for the past few years. Personally, I wouldn’t change a thing about your content – I think you’ve hit on a great mix of technical, general interest, natural history, quiz, photography stuff…a winning combo in my books, as I think it provides enough variety that it is accessible to a broad range of readers.

    On a completely different note, I would like a poster-sized version of that pile of thumbnails for my office, plz kthnxbye.

  6. For some reason, I’ve gotten worse and worse at the ID challenges – Maybe you’re making them harder?
    But I really like the illustrated collecting travel logs, with pictures of interesting far way and not so far away habitats, and some of their beautiful fauna and flora. Some of them stand out to me as right up there with the best natural history writing I’ve read.
    (Not sure if my two or three guest essays count in the 500, but either way, thanks for the opportunity to contribute!)

    • I’m no good at challenges either – I can’t remember the last time I even earned points over at Alex’s.

      Honestly the travelogues are my favorite thing to write – along with the more taxonomic oriented pieces they are the purest expression of who I am and what I love to do. For some reason they don’t seem to generate as much conversation as other things that I don’t consider strengths (e.g. photo techniques).

      Yes, guest posts are included in the 500 count, so I owe you (and Alex, Rich, and Anne) some thanks for your contributions!

  7. Awesome milestones Ted, and I love the way you laid out your prior 499 posts! I’m with most people here, wouldn’t change a thing! Can’t wait to see where you take us through the next 500 posts!

  8. Congratulations on the blogging milestone! I’ll be looking forward to the next 500; your blog continually sets the bar higher – and was one of the first that started to get me interested in starting my own (not to mention you were the first to ever link to mine). Cheers!

  9. I like your blog the way it is, no worries there. And personally, I think that your contests are probably hitting about the right point, seeing as how even though I never actually *win* them, I also never completely *lose* them, either.

    But since you specifically asked for suggestions, I spent some time thinking it over, and what I’ve come up with is “More Maps!” for the travel-related posts.

    And maybe along with “Taxa”, add a list of “Locations”. They currently only show up in your “tags” box, but they are hard to sort out from the other tags.

  10. I think you are fine just the way you are, but I do with you would be on Google+. You’d quadruple your audience quickly and, selfishly for me, it would be easier to keep up to date with you. Keep on doing what your doing and congratulations!

  11. Congratulations, Ted- Here’s hoping for another 500 posts! Great seeing your photo ninja skills improve across the thumbnails; the backgrounds get simpler and simpler.

    When I just have a single photo to share, I find Google+ is often the best way to put it out there. The photos look superb at larger sizes, much better than FB. The biggest drawback of Google+ is that hardly any entomologists use it.


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