Insect Identifications and Etiquette

I’ve been a student of insects for most of my life, and of the many aspects of entomology that interest me, field collecting and identification remain the most enjoyable. My interest in beetles first began to gel during my days at the university (despite a thesis project focused on leafhoppers), and early in my career I settled on wood-boring beetles (principally Buprestidae and Cerambycidae) as the taxa that most interested me. To say that species identification of these beetles can be difficult is an understatement, but I was fortunate to have been helped by a number of individuals—well-established coleopterists—who freely shared their time and expertise with me during my early years and pointed me in the right direction as I began to learn the craft. Some of the more influential include colleagues that have since passed (e.g., Gayle Nelson, John Chemsak, Chuck Bellamy, and Frank Hovore) and those that, thankfully, continue with us (e.g., Rick Westcott and Henry Hespenheide).

It has been a little more than 30 years now since I began studying these beetles, and due in great part to the help I received early on and the motivation that it inspired within me, I have gained a certain amount of proficiency in their identification as well. Not surprisingly, I too regularly receive requests from people looking for help with identifications. I rarely turn down such requests (in fact, I don’t think I have ever turned one down)—it not only helps my own research but also, occasionally, allows me to fill a gap or two in my collection. More importantly, however, it is my duty—I benefited greatly from those who shared their expertise with me, so it’s only fair that I continue by their example.

As common a practice as this is among collectors, it seems odd that there are few written guidelines on the etiquette of requesting and providing identifications. Note that this is something different than borrowing specimens for study, which has its own set of expectations and responsibilities. As someone who has both requested and received requests for specimen identifications for a long time now, I have my own thoughts about reasonable expectations in this regard. Perhaps you, too, will find these thoughts useful the next time you contemplate asking somebody to identify your specimens (or accepting a request to do so).

Guidelines for requesting identifications

  1. Always ask permission to send specimens before doing so. ‘Nuff said.
  2. When you do send specimens, read  and follow the guidelines suggested to avoid creating additional work for the identifier who must repair specimens damaged in shipment.
  3. Leave extra room in the specimen box. While tightly packed specimens minimize shipment size and can reduce cost, it also increases risk of damage during shipment due to ‘bumping’ or during removal from the box for ID. More importantly, it allows little or no room for the addition of identification labels to specimens. Additionally, many identifiers find it helpful to remove all of the specimens from a box and group them by related taxa to facilitate identification. The reassembled specimens may require more space than they did in their original arrangement.
  4. Send the entire available series of specimens. A common practice among those sending specimens for ID is to hold back specimens from a series and send only one or a few examples. Whether this is to, again, minimize the size of the shipment, confirm a provisional ID, or safeguard specimens perceived as desirable, it nevertheless prevents the identifier from having access to the range of data and variability represented in the series. This is important if the series contains 1) multiple species, 2) previously undocumented distributions or ecological data, or 3) unusual morphological variants. An exception to this is when very long series of specimens are available and sending the entire series would be unwieldy and/or unnecessary. In this case, the identifier should be informed that only a partial series of specimens was sent.
  5. Allow retentions. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes individuals have balked at my requests to retain specimens that proved useful for my studies. This is poor etiquette, as it shows little respect for the value of the service being provided by the person making the identifications. More common is to allow retention of examples from a series, but not singletons. This also, in my opinion, is poor etiquette. I remember one of my early sendings to Gayle Nelson that contained a single specimen of Agrilus audax, a very rare North American buprestid known by only a handful of specimens. Not surprisingly, Gayle did not have this species in his collection, and while I, too, was a student of the group I didn’t hesitate to give this specimen Gayle—established and well-respected expert of the family that he was. To this day the species remains unrepresented in my collection, yet I have never second guessed that decision due to the value of what I gained in his respect and mentorship in the years since. Most identifiers are both humble and sparing in their requests for retentions.¹
  6. Allow time for identifications. Individuals with expertise in a given group are generally few in number, and those willing to provide identifications may be fewer still. As a result, they usually have a number of boxes on hand at any one time awaiting identification. Get an idea from them at the start of how long they expect it will be before they can complete the task. If the projected timeline passes and you don’t hear back from them, an inquiry is fine, but be polite and understanding.

¹ A corollary to this asking for specimens in exchange for specimens retained. An exchange involves two parties sending each other specimens that mutually benefit each other’s collections. Identifications are a service provided by one party that benefit the requester. To suggest an exchange as ‘payment’ for retained specimens ignores the value of the service being provided by the identifier

Guidelines for providing identifications

  1. Once specimens are received, protect them from damage as you would your own collection. Maintain them in a protective cabinet or check them regularly to ensure that dermestid pests do not gain a toehold.
  2. Provide the identifications in as timely a manner as possible. This is not always easy, especially for those willing to accept a large number of requests and who may find themselves inundated with boxes awaiting identification. If you cannot provide identifications relatively quickly, be honest with the requestor regarding how long you expect the identifications to take. If it does take longer, provide an update to the requestor and give them the option to have the specimens returned or confirm that they are okay with the delay.
  3. Add your identification label with your name and date (year) to at least the first specimen in the series. Even better is if you can add a small, pre-printed ID label to every specimen in the series, but this can be difficult if the number of specimens and/or diversity of species is large. If there are specimens with prior identifications that you disagree with, turn the prior ID label upside-down, replace through an existing pin hole, and add your ID label. I disagree with the practice of folding prior ID labels—not only could I be wrong, but this unnecessarily damages something with historical value, especially if new pin holes are added to the label. Always place your ID label below any existing labels (i.e., label order should reflect their sequence of placement—oldest labels nearest the specimen and newest labels furthest away).
  4. Keep retentions to a minimum. I generally ask to retain specimens only when they significantly improve the representation in my collection or provide significant new data—i.e., un- or under-represented species, undocumented distributions or ecological data, etc. The bar for singletons is even higher—usually only if they are completely absent from my collection (with ~65% of U.S. Buprestidae now represented in my collection, this is an increasingly uncommon occurrence).
  5. Following #4, provide an accounting of retained specimens. Minimally, a list of species and their number should be given, and my preference is to provide label data as well (especially if requested). I once sent a batch of beetles (in a family in which I do not specialize) to an expert for identification, and when I received them back it was obvious that a number of specimens had been retained (perhaps 1/3 of the total number). When I wrote to the identifier and asked for an accounting (remember, I was only asking for an accounting—I did not have a problem with the retentions themselves), I received a rather terse reply from the individual stating that he did not ‘have time’ to provide this. Needless to say, this level of dismissiveness was not appreciated, and I have since found another more agreeable researcher with expertise in that family to send specimens for identification.
  6. When you are ready to return the specimens, read  and follow it’s suggested guidelines to avoid causing damage to the specimens whose care you were entrusted.

Again, these guidelines are written from the perspective of a private individual sending and receiving specimens for identification. Scientists at institutions may have additional or differing guidelines on this subject, but in any case these guidelines should be communicated to and understood by individuals requesting identifications before any material is sent.

If you have additional suggestions or comments on how these guidelines can be improved I would appreciate hearing them.

© Ted C. MacRae 2015

Rejoicing the end of summer

Russet browns of big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) and Indian grass (Sorgastrum nutans) blend with still-green foliage in early autumn at White River Balds Natural Area in southwestern Missouri.

Last week I awoke to refreshingly cool temperatures for the first time in a long time – a brutal heat wave that had gripped the Midwest for some time had finally (if only briefly) passed. Missouri typically experiences substantial heat and humidity during the height of summer, a result of warm, moisture-laden air sweeping up from the Gulf of Mexico and over our mid-continental position.  The first cool snap in mid-August, however, usually marks the beginning of the end of protracted heat. High temps may return (and usually do), but they are intermittent and the writing is on the wall – summer’s end is near, and fall is on its way! For most of my life, the coming of fall has always been something to which I looked forward eagerly – it really is my favorite time of year.  I don’t just love fall, I adooore it!!!  As a result, I sometimes forget that not everyone shares my feelings, so when I mentioned to a colleague last week how excited I was that fall was on the way, I was a little surprised by her less-than-pleased reaction. Kids I can understand –  fall means a return to school and the end of fun and sun and no responsibilities.  However, for most adults, fall does not entail as dramatic a paradigm shift – we get up and go to work everyday regardless of the season. Indeed, to my colleague, fall was not dreaded so much for what it is but what it portends – winter! I convinced myself that if she was as interested in natural history as I, surely she would appreciate fall as a time of transition in the natural world.  This logic proved faulty, however, when just a few days later one of my favorite entomologist/natural historian bloggers voiced a similar lamentation.

Xeric calcareous prairie (''cedar glade'') in southwestern Missouri - habitat for Cicindela obsoleta vulturina.

That the charms of fall are not immediately apparent to everyone is beyond me.  Who in middle America doesn’t rejoice the end of long, sweltering days as they cede to the cool days of fall?  Who dreads the crisp, clean, autumn air and its pungent, earthy aromas?  Who doesn’t marvel as they watch the landscape morph from summer’s monotonous shades of green – its forests becoming a riot of red, orange, and yellow, its grasslands a shifting mosaic of tawny, amber, and gold, and in all places shadows cast long and sharp by a cool yellow sun riding low in a deep blue sky?  For the natural historian, fall offers even more than just these sensory gifts – it’s not the end of the season, but rather part of a repeating continuum that includes birth, growth, senescence and quiescence.  Plants that have not yet flowered begin to do so in earnest, while those that have shift energy reserves into developing seeds.  The spring wildflowers may be long gone, but only now do the delicate blooms of Great Plains Ladies’-tresses orchids rise up on their tiny spires.  Grasses also, anonymous during the summer, now reach their zenith – some with seed heads as exquisite as any summer flower.  Insects and other animals step up activity, hastily harvesting fall’s bounty to provision nests or fatten their stores in preparation for the long, winter months ahead.

Gypsum Hills in south-central Kansas. Habitat for Cicindela pulchra.

For myself, it is tiger beetles that are fall’s main attraction.  Yes, tiger beetles are out during spring and summer as well, but there is something special about the fall tiger beetle fauna.  Glittering green, wine red, and vivid white, a number of tiger beetles make a brief appearance in the fall after having spent the summer as larvae, hidden in the ground while feeding on hapless insects that chanced too close to their burrows, until late summer rains triggered pupation and transformation to adulthood.  As the rest of the nature prepares for sleep, these gorgeous beetles take their first, tentative steps into the autumn world for a brief session of feeding and play before winter chases them back underground for the winter.  Every fall for the past several years now, I have looked forward to the annual fall tiger beetle trip to see some of the different species and the unique landscapes which harbor them.  From the “cedar glades” of Missouri’s Ozark Highlands and Gypsum Hills of south-central Kansas, to the Sandhills of central Nebraska and Black Hills of South Dakota, I’ve acquired an even greater passion for a season that I already loved.  I’ll never forget the first time I saw Cicindela pulchra (beautiful tiger beetle) flashing iridescently across the barren red clay.  I still remember the excitement of seeing my first C. obsoleta vulturina launching itself powerfully from amongst the clumps of big bluestem. I recall my amazement at my first encounter with C. limbata (sandy tiger beetle) as it danced across deep sand blows, undaunted by scouring 30 mph winds.  No doubt I have many equally vivid memories awaiting me in the future, as I intend to keep the annual fall tiger beetle trip a long-standing tradition.  For this year, I’m hoping that C. pulchra and a few other species will reward a late-September drive to the Nebraska and South Dakota Badlands.  Whether they do is almost irrelevant – I love fall, and the chance to see new localities during my favorite time of year will be reward enough.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

Are we loving our prairies/glades/woodlands to death?

I had such high hopes for last weekend’s collecting trip – late May is boom time for insects across Missouri, we have had good moisture this spring, and I would be visiting some high-quality natural communities that I had not visited for a long time.  My stated goals (the jewel beetles, Agrilus impexus and A. frosti) were long shots – I knew that and would have been fine coming home without those species (which I did) had the the collecting been otherwise productive (which it was not).  Still, I’ve been doing this for a long time now, and I’ve learned to draw on my accumulated experience when things don’t go as planned to give myself the best shot at turning a bad collecting trip into a decent one when things don’t go as planned.  The itinerary with which I start is rarely the one that I actually follow, and this past weekend was a good example of such.

My first stop was Ha Ha Tonka State Park, one of Missouri’s premier parks, boasting high-quality chert, dolomite, and sandstone savanna interspersed with dolomite glades.  It is on these glades and savannas that I hoped to find Agrilus impexus, or failing that at least collect a nice diversity of other jewel beetles on the oaks and hickories of the savannas and surrounding woodlands.  However, it was with some reservation that I even came here after being told by my colleague at the Department of Natural Resources just 2 days before my trip that 75% of the park’s grasslands and woodlands had been burned within the past two years.  For an insect collector, this is never good news – in all my years of collecting insects, my experience in relatively recently-burned habitats has been consistent: collecting sucks!  I decided, however, to visit Ha Ha Tonka anyway because of the quality of the natural communities it contains, thinking perhaps I might be able to find pockets of unburned habitat supporting good insect populations.  This was not to be. I beat oak after oak in the savannas and woodlands – nothing!  I swept little bluestem and Indian grass in the glades – nothing!  The foliage was lush and green and the savanna and glade landscapes highly diverse – given the time of season the place should have been teeming with insect life, yet it almost seemed sterile. Were it not for a few Chrysobothris quadriimpressa jewel beetle adults that I found attracted to a recently wind-thrown black oak tree, I would not have seen any insects here at all.  It appeared my fears about park-wide depression of insect populations had been realized.  However, not one to waste a visit I decided to explore some of Ha Ha Tonka’s fascinating geological features.  Ha Ha Tonka contains one of Missouri’s best examples of karst geology, with complex structures formed from the collapse of a major cave system.  The Devil’s Promenade is one of the more spectacular examples of such, its horseshoe-shaped cliff representing the former interior walls of a now-collapsed cave.  As dusk approached, the day’s poor insect collecting caused me to abandon my plans to stay here and blacklight for nocturnal beetles.  Instead, I decided to break from the itinerary, drive further west and explore Lichen Glade Natural Area in the morning before heading to the Penn-Sylvania Prairie BioBlitz later that afternoon.

Devils Promenade, Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Lichen Glade Natural Area is a small area owned by The Nature Conservancy that boasts a high-quality sandstone glade surrounded by post oak/black jack oak forest.  My first visit to the area more than 20 years ago was during May, and it was one of the most productive collecting trips I’ve had with a number of Agrilus spp. (including A. frosti) beaten from post oak (Quercus stellata) along the woodland edge.  I didn’t visit again until fall of 2002, when Chris Brown, Rich Thoma and I found claybank tiger beetles (Cicindela limbalis) sunning on the exposed sandstone outcrops, and I made one more visit the following May to beat more insects off of post oak.  The Lichen Glade that I returned to this past weekend was a very different place from when I last visited – the surrounding woodlands had been extensively opened (I would guess within the past few years based on the size of the post oak resprouts), and fire had been used throughout the area.  Anticipation turned to frustration when no amount of beating of the woodland vegetation and sweeping of the glade vegetation turned up beetles in any appreciable numbers (or any insects for that matter) and two hours worth of effort yielded not a single buprestid beetle!

Sandstone glade community, Lichen Glade Natural Area

With resignation, I headed on over to Penn-Sylvania Prairie, where during the introduction to the BioBlitz I learned that nearly half of the 160-acre prairie was burned last December and all of it had been burned within the past few years.  I knew what I was going to find – nothing!  Okay, I shouldn’t say nothing, as there actually were some beetles present.  However, the numbers and diversity were low, with all of the species encountered representing common, widespread species.  Moreover, it was not just beetles – all of the invertebrate group leaders (which included experts on snails, ants, butterflies, and bees) reported low overall abundance and diversity in their groups of interest.  Only the vascular plants – the metric by which the value of prescribed burning is always assessed – showed high diversity, with 300 species of mostly native prairie plants recorded for the site.  It was a fun event, with probably ~75 attendees and a delicious pot luck dinner that evening; however, it would have been more enjoyable had there actually been a nice diversity of insects present to document for the preserve.

My comments may make it seem that I am against the use of prescribed burning.  This is not true – I understand the critical role that fire as a management technique plays in restoring and maintaining examples of Missouri’s historically fire-mediated landscape. Without fire and other processes to mimic natural disturbance factors, most of Missouri’s historical grasslands and woodlands suffer relentless encroachment by woody vegetation. However, the modern landscape is very different from the historical landscape, where fires of unpredictable scale, intensity, and frequency operated within a vastly larger scale to create a shifting mosaic of natural communities in various stages of ecological succession. Such processes cannot be recreated on today’s severely fragmented landscape, where the precious few remaining tracts of native habitat are relatively to extremely small and more often than not separated from each other by vast expanses of homogeneous and “inhospitable” habitat (e.g., agricultural, urbanized, or severely degraded lands).  It is in that context that I have great concerns about how aggressively fire has been used in recent years on our state’s natural areas and the impact this is having on insect populations – specialist and generalist alike.  Fire proponents will point to published studies that show little to no effect by the use of fire for managing small, isolated remnants on specialist insects (see review in Henderson 2010).  However, there are an equal number of studies that suggest such concerns are well-founded (see review in Panzer 2002). A consistent limitation in all of the studies that have been conducted is the lack of very large and long un-burned remnants.  Prescribed burning has been adopted so rapidly and pervasively that there just aren’t any significant un-burned remnants left to properly include as controls in such studies.  As a result, the insect fauna present at a given site at the start of such a study is already skewed towards those species that successfully recolonized the area post-burn.  At a minimum, the data to this point are inconclusive, and certainly the potential for impacts has not been given the consideration it warrants in designing fire-management plans for our own state’s prairies and glades. Furthermore, as rapidly and aggressively as fire has been adopted on our few, small, widely disjuct remnants, the opportunity for proper investigation of those potential effects may be gone.  A particularly egregious example of the lack of consideration being given to prairie invertebrates in designing fire management plans is shown in these photos of Iowa’s Sylvan Runkel State Preserve before and after a late May burn and the impact of that burn on a resident population of Nevada buck moths (Hemileuca nevadensis).

Here in Missouri, as in Iowa, it’s a problem of scale – the landscape is too fragmented and remnants too disjunct to manage based strictly on floristic response.   Populations of generalist insect species will recover, and even specialist species may be able to overcome such management practices if they are widely distributed and sufficiently mobile. But what about conservative species with low vagility, such as the swift tiger beetle (Cylindera celeripes) and our disjunct population of the frosted dromo tiger beetle (Dromochorus pruinina), flightless species restricted in Missouri to the few tiny remnants of loess hilltop prairie in northwestern Missouri and a single 2.5-mile stretch of roadside habitat in west-central Missouri?  Until directly relevant data, gathered here in Missouri, are forthcoming to suggest otherwise, I believe the most judicious use of fire possible should be practiced in restoring and maintaining our grasslands and woodlands.  In-season burns may have been a part of the historical landscape, but their use today has great potential to result in local extirpations and should be used only after the most careful consideration.  Leaving un-burned refugia within remnant habitats to accelerate recovery would also be prudent – yet many land managers disregard this practice because of its logistical difficulties. This is especially true in small parcels, yet it is precisely these remnants that have the most to gain from their use (or lose from not doing so!).  In the historical landscape, every burn was a patch burn – no matter what its size, there were always adjacent or proximal unburned habitat from which recolonization could occur.  Elk and bison, too, were integral components of the presettlement prairie landscape – their roamings caused intermittent, localized disturbances that were likely not only crucial to the tiger beetles that I study but may also have contributed to vegetational diversity through patch succession.  Techniques that mimic these natural disturbance factors include mowing, haying, and managed grazing.  They can be utilized to mimic those disturbances as well as delay woody encroachment, and their use in land management should be considered for their ecological value rather than deprioritized because of their relatively greater complexity and cost to implement. Mechanical removal and selective use of herbicides offer additional tools for addressing woody encroachment while minimizing potential impacts to insect populations. An effective management program that considers all of the flora and fauna of a remnant may not be possible unless all of these management tools are utilized, or at least properly considered. As my good friend James Trager said in a recent email (quoting Andrew Williams), habitat restoration “cannot rest on any single management practice, nor practicing it too extensively.”


Henderson, R. A.  2010. Influence of Patch Size, Isolation, and Fire History on Hopper (Homoptera: Auchenorrhyncha) Communities of Eight Wisconsin Prairie Remnants.  Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Research Report 189, 22 pp.

Panzer, R. 2002. Compatibility of prescribed burning with the conservation of insects in small, isolated prairie reserves. Conservation Biology, 16(5):1296-1307.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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Deciding on science

I hope you’ll forgive my momentary diversion into politics for this post. I’m not normally one to ‘proseletize’, and I promise to return to my normal subject matter in the next post. But at this moment we find ourselves on the eve of arguably the most important election in our history. Of the many objections that can be raised about the Bush administration’s policies during the past eight years, it is his seeming all-out attack on science and the environment that has most alarmed me. From supporting the teaching of ‘intelligent design’ in science classes and vetoing federal funding for stem cell research, to suppressing and censoring reports on subjects such as global warming and mercury pollution and stacking scientific advisory panels with political appointments, Bush has led what might be described as ‘the most anti-science’ administration in history. Under his administration, federal funding for physical and life science research has stagnated or declined, threatening our once dominant position in the scientific world and risking the future prosperity that depends upon science-based innovation. I suspect both Barack Obama and John McCain will implement science policies that would be a considerable improvement over those of Bush; however, let us consider the details.

Obama has promised to double the federal investment in basic research, restore integrity to the process of obtaining scientific advice, and invest in clean energy technology. McCain has also voiced support for increased science funding and restoring integrity; however, he has also proposed an across the board freeze on all non-defense discretionary spending. Throughout his campaign, Obama has emphasized the power of science and technology to increase U.S. competitivness, while McCain’s relative lack of statements on traditional areas of science policy suggests, if not antagonism, at least apathey. Both candidates recognize nuclear energy as an important non-carbon energy source, but where Obama has urged caution until the significant challenges of waste storage and potential for proliferation are addressed, McCain has called this “no problem.” McCain also sees aggressive oil drilling as an important step in achieving energy independence, despite the fact that the U.S. owns only 3% of the world’s oil reserves while being responsible for a full 25% of its consumption. He considers our need for oil to be a national security issue, justifying the opening of currently protected areas for drilling. Whenever I hear the shrill call to open up ANWAR, I am reminded of this oft-used passage from Life Without Principle by Henry David Thoreau:

“If a man should walk in the woods for the love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer, but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.”

John McCain also declined a recent Nature invitation to answer 18 science-related questions in writing (an invitation that Obama accepted), thereby missing another important opportunity to be more forthcoming about his science policy. In contrast, Obama’s science agenda clearly emphasizes a commitment to clean energy, environmental stewardship, and aggressive promotion of science-based education. This has prompted 62 Nobel Prize Laureates to write a letter on Sept. 25 endorsing Obama for president.

Perhaps most illuminating are the candidates responses to questions about the teaching of creationism (sometimes repackaged as ‘intelligent design’) in science classrooms and funding for research using human embryonic stem-cell lines. Obama acknowledges the strong consensus of the scientific community in the validity of evolutionary theory, opposes mandated teaching of ‘alternative’ theories that are not subject to experimental scrutiny, and strongly supports expanding research on stem cells. McCain’s statements have displayed more ambivalence – he believes in evolution and has voted to lift Bush’s ban on stem cell research but has also made statements supporting teaching “all points of view” about human origins and defining stem cell policies that “reflect a refusal to sacrifice moral values and ethical principles for the sake of scientific progress.” Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin – a staunch critic of evolution and stem cell research and supporter of teaching intelligent design – has been anything but ambivalent on these issues, and her selection as his running mate is perhaps the most disturbing indicator of what McCain really believes.

I share with you some pictures that I took this past weekend at the Obama Rally in St. Louis. Our entire family was excited to have the opportunity to view Obama – rightly described by Colin Powell as a ‘transformational figure’ – in person. We expected the crowd would be large so arrived early in the morning, by which time the line already extended almost to the northern boundary of the Gateway Arch grounds. Nevertheless, we enjoyed a spot quite a close to the stage, and once inside savored and shared the excitement and anticipation with a diverse crowd who were all there for a common cause – the 2-hour wait was anything but boring! Local and state dignitaries primed the crowd, and by the time Obama arrived the crowd had swelled to over 100,000. Looking back upon the crowd from our spot near the stage and seeing the excitement, I felt like I was a part of history. While this flyer that was circulating (titled, “Scary Thought”) may be a bit of an exaggeration, I don’t think the choice could be clearer.