AIF #11, HoH #12

An Inordinate Fondness #11 – Kindergarten Kunstkammer is hot off the press, and you MUST read it! Adrian Thysse, the polymath behind The Bug Whisperer (as well as Voyages Around My Camera, A Natural Evolution, and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Centraal), adopts an appropriately Renaissance theme to this latest AIF issue.  It seems that one “Theodosius Macraeinius” spilled his gift box of beetles in Ferrante Imperato’s private museum (“Kunstkammer”) before properly curating its rare contents and needs help from the readers to locate and “pin” them. Intrigued? Take a look for yourself and see if you can find each of the 12 rare beauties – successfully pinning them brings up a delightful post about the beetle and the particulars of its “collection.” Bravo, Adrian!

One month older than AIF is House of Herps, which celebrates The First Anniversary Edition at the home site.  To celebrate, the home site has undergone a design change and introduces two new badges to go with the original one – for some reason I feel partial to this one.  This month’s contributors bring to 52 the total number of contributors that have participated in the inaugural year of HoH, sharing their pictures, experiences and knowledge about the world’s amphibians and reptiles.  If this carnival has accomplished anything, I hope it has been to stimulate interest in these ancient animals (it certainly has in me) and to highlight their increasingly tenuous circumstances in the face of human pressures.  Join me in making HoH’s second year as successful as its first.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

3rd Blogoversary, 7 New Blogs, & AIF #10

Today happens to be BitB’s 3rd blogoversary.  I won’t bore you with an attempt at witty, insightful introspection on what it means to have reached this modest milestone.  BitB is still what it started out as – tales from my life-long, entomocentric, natural history learning experience.  I’ve enjoyed these past three years immensely, learned far more than I would have initially imagined, and deeply appreciate the support and encouragement I’ve received from an admireably erudite readership.

Rather than talk on about myself, however, I’d like to talk about others.  I’m always on the lookout for new blogs – those that seem interesting make the blogroll, and if I find their content compelling enough they make my RSS feed list.  A few rise to the top due to their superior photography, insightful writing, or close alignment with my own interests – these I like to feature from time to time by name in an occasional post such as this one.  Following is the latest crop of new sites (or at least new to me) that have piqued my interest:

Crooked Beak Workshop is written by coleopterist Delbert la Rue, Research Associate at the Entomology Research Museum, University of California, Riverside.  I can forgive his primary interest in Pleocomidae (rain beetles) and other scarabaeoid taxa due to his strong side interests in Cicindelidae (tiger beetles), Buprestidae (jewel beetles), and ecology of sand dune ecosystems.  Posts occur irregularly, but when they do appear they are good old-fashioned hardcore coleopteran taxonomy and desert southwest ecology – what could be better?

Field Notes is a herpetology website by Bryan D. Hughes.  “Spectacular” does not even begin to describe his photographs, focused heavily on the marvelous diversity of venomous snakes and other reptiles in the desert southwest (and the occasional desert arachnid as well).  Bryan hopes his pictures and information will help homeowners who choose to live in areas harboring native wildlife become interested in it rather than kill it due to fear and myth – I hope he succeeds!

Gardening with Binoculars is a fairly new site by my good friend and fellow WGNSS member Anne McCormack.  Anne is a true “naturalist’s naturalist,” with solid knowledge that spans the breadth of Missouri’s flora and fauna – both vertebrate and invertebrate.  In GWB, Anne uses this knowledge and her considerable writing talents to weave informative and entertaining tales of her experiences with wildlife in a small native plant garden.  I can almost hear the campfire crackling in the background!

Natural History Museum Beetle blog is a new blog by Beulah Garner, one of the curators of Coleoptera in the Entomology department at The Natural History Museum in London (I am sooo jealous!).  With only two posts under her belt so far, it might be premature to give the site such quick praise; however, I couldn’t resist – the 2nd post had photos of tiger beetles!  Regardless, working amongst more than 9 million insects (did I mention I’m jealous?) should provide plenty of fodder for future posts.

The Atavism is written by David Winter, a PhD student in evolutionary genetics in New Zealand.  Wide ranging in his interests, it is his  series that has captured my interest (and while “spineless” across much of the blogosphere means squishy marine animals, David’s spinelessness is more to my liking – i.e., arthropod-heavy).  Moreover, in true academic fashion, David usually finds an unusual angle from which to discuss his subjects.

The Prairie Ecologist. Chris Helzer is an ecologist for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska whose writings demonstrate deep, intimate understanding of the prairie landscape and its myriad biotic interactions, as well as the passion that many of us here in the heartland feel when looking out on its vast expanses.  As if that wasn’t enough, Chris is also one of the rare bloggers who combines his well-crafted writing with truly spectacular photography – he’s the total package!

The Sam Wells Bug Page is written by – you guessed it – Sam Wells.  This is a straight up entomology site, featuring a diversity of insects from that wonderful state called California.  You won’t find these insects anywhere else on the web, and though it is (to my liking) heavy on the beetles, a variety of other insect groups are featured as well.  What’s more, each post almost always contains fabulous photos of that remarkable California landscape.  Each post is a little mini-collecting trip – I get a little homesick for the Sierra Nevada every time I read!

One final note – Heath Blackmon at Coleopterists Corner has posted the tenth edition of An Inordinate Fondness.  This was Heath’s first blog carnival hosting gig (could there have been any more appropriate?), but you wouldn’t know it by looking – 14 coleocontributions artfully presented, each with a teaser photo and just enough text to invite further clicking.  Head on over to AIF #10 and enjoy elytral ecstasy at its finest (and don’t forget to tip the waiter!).

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

An Inordinate Fondness #9

Welcome to An Inordinate Fondness, the monthly blog carnival devoted to beetles.  I started this carnival nine months ago, hosting the inaugural issue at the home site before sending it out into the big, wide world.  Seven very capable bloggers have hosted it since, each giving it their own special flavor.  This month, AIF makes its first appearance here at BitB, and even though we have begun to enter the colder months of the year here in North America, blog posts about beetles continue unabated.  Featured here are 14 coleocentric posts that have appeared within the past month – I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.



Ever heard of the life/lunch dichotomy?  Greg Laden discusses it in his post Strange insect encounter: Carrion Beetle with Mites at Greg Laden’s Blog.  You might think this heavy load of tiny mites would be a big problem for the carrion beetle that they cover, but in reality the beetle’s life depends upon them.  Read Greg’s post to find out why.

Amber Coakley at Birder’s Lounge presents some great photographs of the white-cloaked tiger beetle (Cicindela togata) in Tiger Beetle at Oklahoma’s Salt Plains NWR.  These are not just any tiger beetle, but among the most halophilic (salt-tolerant) of species in North America.  Read her post, view the desolation, and marvel that these beetles find a way to make a living in the vast salt plains.


No North American beetle collector can call themselves such until they’ve seen Arizona’s stunningly-colored Chrysina scarabs in the wild.  Art Evans at What’s Bugging You? reminisces on his first experience with these beetles while providing a marvelous summary of the different species in REFLECTIONS ON ARIZONA’S JEWEL SCARABS-Part 1.  Once again, the siren call of Arizona beckons me.

Other Arizona beetles are famous not only for their exquisite colors, but also the radical change they undergo after the beetle reaches adulthood.  Find out how this happens in Color-changing Leaf Beetles, by Margarethe Brummermann at Arizona: Beetles Bugs Birds and more.


No, that is not an ant, but a beetle – a tiger beetle to be exact.  Troy Bartlett at Nature Closeups found these beetles in Brazil and discusses how they not only look like ants, but move and behave like them as well in Caraça Tiger Beetles.  Oh, how I would dearly love to see some of these tiger beetles for myself!

Closer to home, Shelly Cox at MObugs presents a timely post on the locust borer, Megacyllene robiniae in Locust Borer.  One of a small number of longhorned beetle species that mimic wasps, Shelly gives a complete summary of the life history and habits of this fall-active species.

Mimicry, of course, is not always of the Batesian type where the mimic is harmless – Mullerian mimics are themselves distasteful to predators but share similar warning coloration and patterns to reinforce that fact to any would-be predators.  In Insect of the week – number 39 at NC State Insect Museum, the net-winged beetle Dictyoptera aurora is featured as an example of such.  Find out its taxonomic history, natural history, habitat, distribution, and the diagnostic characters needed to distinguish this species from other net-winged beetles.


Flower chafers of the scarab genus Euphoria are among the most colorful species in the family, and Arizona has more than its share of them as Margarethe Brummermann shows in The Euphoria species of Arizona, USA at Arizona: Beetles Bugs Birds and more.  I thought I had done a pretty good job of finding these beetles during past visits to Arizona, so you can imagine my surprise when I learned that there are ten species there (I have only encountered four).  Margarethe’s post has plenty of info to help me find those I still lack.

When it comes down to it, collecting trips are the heart of this pursuit we call coleopterology.  Estan Cabigas at Salagubang recounts a recent trip in A short collecting trip at Epol, Davao City.  He notes that while new species in groups of interest are not always expected, camaraderie in the field with like-minded people can more than make up for that.  Read the post to learn about what he found.


Honey bees have had more than their share of problems lately, with Colony Collapse Disorder adding to the multitude of other pests and pathogens these industrious little hymenopterans must deal with.  In Answer to the Monday Night Mystery: Small Hive Beetle (Aethina tumida), Alex Wild at Myrmecos shows some spectacular photographs of one of these other pests, with an appearance far more pleasing than the result of their infestations in honey bee hives.

The white-fringed weevil, Naupactus leucoloma, is not quite as serious a pest as the small hive beetle, and Dave Ingram recounts his encounter with this beetle feeding Amongst the Lily Seeds at Dave Ingram’s Natural History Blog.  Originally from South America but introduced worldwide, this beetle has made meal of many a plant species.


In his post Micromalthus debilis, Heath Blackmon at Coleopterists Corner discusses a beetle with one of the oddest reproductive strategies and unusual genetic systems within the order Coleoptera.  A flowchart is actually required to understand the many different developmental pathways and larval phenotypes that are encountered in this species.  If you’re not yet familiar with paedogenesis or thelytokous, arrhenotokous, and amphiterotokous parthenogenesis, then this is the post for you!


Few other insects besides beetles have been used so widely as inspiration for and objects of art.  In Reflections on Beetle Art, Jonathan Neal at Living With Insects Blog discusses this and other cultural uses of beetles, including the dazzling artwork of Christopher Marley that was featured recently on a popular Sunday TV magazine.

Mike Bok’s AIF #8 last month at Arthopoda featured clever versions of classic Beatles (the music group) images with real beetles (the insects).  While his artwork was original, the connection between the two has obviously been made by others (including Amber with AIF #2).  Ever the good sport, Mike features yet another Abbey Road album cover in Further unintentional unoriginality.

This month’s contributors:

The November issue of AIF will be hosted by University of Texas graduate student Heath Blackmon at Coleopterists Corner (could there be a more appropriate carnival for Heath’s first hosting gig?).  Submit your submission using this handy submission form by November 15, and look for the issue to appear a few days later.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

An Inordinate Fondness #8 – Meet the Beetles

An Inordinate Fondness #8 is now up at Arthropoda, and I must say it is one of the most impressive issues to date. Mike Bok has given us yet another delightful version drawing on the obvious parallels between the “beetles” (taxon) and the “Beatles” (musical group). This has been done before, but whereas Amber made delightful soundtracks for each submission in AIF #2, Mike has come up with some of the most impressively amusing “Beetle” album covers one can imagine. “Abbey Road” (above) may be my favorite, but “The (Tiger) Beatles” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band ” also must be seen to be believed.

Oh, and by the way, the issue contains links and introductions to a full plate of 20 coleopterous compositions to satisfy your cravings for all things elytral – including five contributions just on tiger beetles alone (hmm, now how did that happen?). Please visit, read, click, and comment – it’s one of the best issues ever.

The problem with an issue this good is that it makes for a hard act to follow, and the October edition of AIF still needs a host.  Hosting is fun and easy, and you’ll get plenty of help if you need it.  Please visit the AIF website if you’re interested in hosting an upcoming issue (your choice of months).  If you can’t commit to hosting but would still like to contribute, use this handy automatic submission form, or contact me directly.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

June beetles, moths, and herps

New issues of my three favorite carnivals have been issued in the past day or two. See what’s been going on in the blog world of beetles, moths, and herps during the past month.

Seabrooke Leckie has just posted An Inordinate Fondness #5 at the Marvelous in Nature. I was delighted when Seabrooke offered to host this issue – an experienced nature blog carnival host, her standing as a member of the Nature Blog Network team and author of one of its most popular blogs promised to bring an air of credibility to this newest of nature blog carnivals.  With the creative flair that we’ve come to expect from her, Seabrooke shares with us ten different species in eight different families and presenting a multitude of shapes and colors – from iridescent green tamarisk weevils and false blister beetles, to black and red milkweed leaf beetles and ladybird beetles, to strikingly patterned longhorned beetles, to brown yet anything but boring rain beetles (and once you’ve seen what’s out there, learn about everything you need to go out and collect them).

Chris Grinter at The Skeptical Moth joins the blog carnival host ranks with The Moth and Me #12.  Chris is an entomologist at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco specializing in  microlepidoptera.  I’m a big fan of Chris’ blog, which I featured in New Bug Blogs of note earlier this year, and his first effort as a blog carnival host – covering 14 submissions in all (including some extraordinary wasp mimics) – is as solid as they come.  I hope you’ll not only check out this edition of TMaM, but also the rest of TSM – its combination of high quality photography and lepidopterous erudition make it the real deal.

Lastly, House of Herps #7 – Dr. Seuss Edition is up at the home site, House of Herps.  This one is a real treat, as HoH co-founder Jason Hogle has once again shown why, in just a few short months, he has become one of the top blog carnival hosts around.  For this issue, Jason takes us back to our childhoods with his own version of Dr. Seuss (and with herp links artfully embedded).  For myself, when I think back on my childhood, I remember catching snakes and turtles and lizards and frogs and holding them (temporarily) in assorted home-made terraria (often just a big pickle jar with dirt and rocks and a dish of water.  I didn’t care what they were called (I always gave them names of my own choosing), I just enjoyed watching them and seeing how they behaved and figuring out what they ate.  Head on over to HoH and rekindle that childhood fascination with all things creepy and crawly.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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May Beetles and Herps

Issue #4 of An Inordinate Fondness is up at xenogere, and once again Jason Hogle has unleashed his natural talent as a blog carnival host in fine form.  Join Jason on a meandering road trip across the continent and back, as he visits the latest crop of beetle bloggers and engages them in coleopterous conversation.  I hope you’ll join the fun and visit the links, and as always don’t forget to tip the waiter!

Another carnival that I follow with interest is House of Herps, and Bernard Brown at Philly Herping has just posted HoH #6. There is a nice assortment of posts featuring frogs, salamanders, snakes and lizards (including one on a very rare Florida endemic, submitted by some guy – I forget his name), and I think the gopher snake photos are the gem of this issue. May is a happening month for herps, so be sure to check out this month’s presentation (and as always don’t forget to tip the waiter)!

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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Two ladies from Ontario

What do bugs and snakes/lizards/frogs/turtles have in common? Yes, they’re both ectothermic, but that is the scientist’s answer. Most folks would say they’re just creepy – girls especially! Well, two ladies from Ontario are proving the latter notion wrong by hosting three blog carnivals that cater to these cold-blooded critters: House of Herps, An Inordinate Fondness, and The Moth and Me.

Most people approach their first blog carnival hosting gig with some trepidation, but the Geek in Question at Fall to Climb has embraced the challenge by volunteering to host two blog carnivals simultaneously.  What chutzpah!  Clearly, she was up to the task – for issue #3 of An Inordinate Fondness, she introduces us to technical terms such as OMGSHINY and Coleappetite™ in Discovery Zone, with thirteen stories of beetley discovery. She then shows off her “slammer” talent in House of Herps #5: Slime Poetry – deftly pairing poems with prose.  I would love to see her do this live!

Seabrooke Leckie’s passion for moths is obvious – she is the founder of The Moth and Me and co-author of the soon-to-be-published Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America. Issue #10 of TMaM, Down to the letter, comes home to mama at the Marvelous in Nature – its 24 contributions almost enough to complete the alphabet! Recite your ABCs in lepidopterous fashion with this fine array of contributions.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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March moths, herps, and beetles

Nature blog carnival time used to be restricted to the beginning of each month – a mensual fix of inverts, birds, berrys, and trees.  Those stalwarts still greet each new month in rough synchrony, but lately a new crop of upstart nature blog carnivals has appeared, all vying to fill that former mid-month lull.  Covering mothsherps, and beetles, they cater to a more specialized audience (despite their subject matter being as diverse as any of the original carnivals).   New editions of these mid-month carnivals are hot off the press, just in time to stock up on fresh reading material for the weekend.

Jason Hogle is my hero!  Intellect, perspective, and artistic talent combine at xenogere to produce some of the most visually and spiritually compelling nature writing available.  In The Moth and Me #9 – the wingless one, Jason unleashes his considerable talents on 15 contributions, weaving them seamlessly into a beautiful story about a wingless moth and its place in The Creation.  Read it and be spellbound, then (after getting over your jealousy of his writing talents) visit the posts for more lepidopterous prose.

John from Kind Of Curious got the lucky draw by hosting House of Herps #4 – St. Patrick’s Edition on St. Patrick’s Day. John notes the ophiological connection to St. Patrick – famed for driving the snakes out Ireland (today seen as an allegory for his conversion of many of the Irish to Christianity) – and then provides scientific reasons for the lack of snakes in Ireland. Nine other contributions round out a menagerie of posts covering snakes, turtles, salamaders, frogs, and toads.

For An Inordinate Fondness (AIF) #2, Amber and AJ at Birder’s Lounge have cleverly adopted a musical theme to honor the coleopterological origin behind the name of the music group, “The Beatles” – complete with song snippets and the irreverent perspective that we have come to expect and adore in their writings. Buzz on over, listen to the music, and let their prose whet your appetites before visiting this month’s eleven contributions.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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