Friday 5: Benefits of Bug Blogging

I started this blog as part of a requirement for a science communication fellowship at the Biosphere II that I got in 2009.  It worked out well because I had always wanted to start a blog, but I lacked the motivation to keep any of the blogs I started going.  The fellowship meant that I HAD to blog and that was all the motivation I needed!  I quickly fell in love with blogging.  While the other fellows in my cohort were discouraged by the lack of visitors to their blogs and most stopped posting long before their year was up, I was doggedly determined to make my blog work.  By the end of the year I was getting over 100 visitors a day, which I considered good at the time.  But more importantly, I’d developed a blogging habit.  I was hooked and I didn’t want to stop!  As a writer, teacher, and insect lover (aka, massive bug geek), I’ve realized that blogging about insects gives me joy for several reasons.  5 reasons in fact.  You know what that means!  Friday 5!

I love blogging about insects because:

1. It is fun to interact with other bloggers.  The insect blogging community is amazing!  We’re a fairly small group of people, but I’ve found that everyone tends to band together into this tight-knit, mutually supportive network.  The bug bloggers I’ve met in person have all been extraordinarily lovely people and the conversations I have with other bloggers via their blogs and my own are stimulating and entertaining.  Being a part of this community makes being a bug blogger an amazing experience!  If you listened to Bug Girl’s draft talk for the Entomological Society of America meeting next week, you’ll notice that she mentions how bug bloggers should foster a sense of community and collaboration as we’re all working toward a common goal.  I think that’s absolutely true.  I don’t feel competitive with anyone else and simply enjoy being a part of the community – and I think a lot of other bug bloggers feel the same way.  It’s a great feeling!

Toxomerus pollitus hover fly

2. It’s fun to interact with readers.  I hadn’t read many blogs before I started my own, so I didn’t realize that blogging opens up an amazing dialog between blogger and readers!  I really enjoy talking to you all.  I love the stories you share.  I love that you keep me on my toes and correct my mistakes.  I love that I can have short conversations with so many people.  I love that you ask me questions, though I don’t always have all the answers.  And, when I have a chance to meet you in person and exchange more than a few words with you, I am a very happy person!  My interactions with you all make the whole experience so much more pleasant, fun, and exciting than it would be otherwise!  It’s one of the best parts of bug blogging, in fact.

Mantid

3. I can share what I know with the world.    I blog because I feel like I have something to say.  I also have an irrepressible love for insects and it’s difficult keeping that bottled up inside.  I have been known to interrupt conversations to correct insect “facts” I overhear (oh yes, I’m that person!), so it’s better that I send my knowledge out into the void and hope someone, somewhere benefits from what I have to say about insects.  Like I said, I can’t contain this stuff, and blogging is a much more socially acceptable means of sharing what I know with others than eavesdropping.  :)

Cacama valvata cicada

4. I can spread the insect love.  I love insects!  I think everyone should love insects.  Way too few people love insects though.  On the continuum from “Oh-my-god-I-freaking-love-insects!!!” to “Eew-kill-that-terrifying-monster-now!!!”, I know in my heart that most people fall closer to the latter.  However, I’m an optimist.  I believe that if you write/tell interesting stories about insects, share a lot of photos and/or live insects, and write/talk so that people can actually understand what you’re trying to say, people will move a little further toward the Oh-my-god-I-freaking-love-insects!!! end of the continuum.  I might be deluding myself, but I hold tight to this belief and hope that my love for insects is infectious enough to spread to a few people who wouldn’t otherwise appreciate these amazing animals.

Hemileuca hualapai caterpillar

5. I learn new things.  Every now and again I’ll write about something and realize that I need to do more research before I can post.  Out come all the books and internet resources!  Several hours later, I’m usually off on some random tangent and have learned several new and interesting things, sometimes even things that benefit my research.  I also learn new things from comments I get from readers, especially when people ask me questions that I don’t know how to answer.  If the request is reasonable, I often delve into the literature, at least briefly, to try to find an answer.  I learn new things from other bug bloggers too.  In fact, I’ve found that reading the blogs and Twitter feeds of blog bloggers really helps me keep up with insect news!  If you are interested in insect news, I highly recommend the same approach.

Perithemis intensa dragonfly female

There are many other reasons why I think blogging is a worthwhile experience, but these are definitely my top 5.  Anyone want to suggest some other benefits of blogging?  If so, leave a comment below!

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