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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16 thoughts on “Friday 5: Benefits of Bug Blogging

    • I really wish I could see your final talk at ESA! I enjoyed your draft version quite a bit and I’m curious how it will be received. My colleagues are generally supportive of my blogging, but I know you’ve had some different experiences than I have. Makes me wonder whether entomogists in general accept blogging as an acceptable and legitimate form of entomological outreach or not. I hope so! And if not, I hope you convince them. :)

      Good luck on your talk!

  1. Yes yes yes. Well said. I’m not officially a “bug blogger,” but I do some bug blogging, and I certainly rely on the expertise of all of you. I love that sense of community. And yes — isn’t it great to be corrected? Someone at Dragonfly Day asked what the quickest way was to encourage online viewers to help ID a mystery insect. I half-jokingly told her to caption it with the WRONG species name, and watch commenters rush to correct her. I joke, but it’s true, and I actually love it.

    And OH MY GOSH do I love research tangents. I don’t even use most of them, but they’re sure fun. (Also a fun way to drive my husband crazy with my Internet history: “Why is ‘traumatic insemination’ the last thing you read?”)

      • There are other animals that engage in “traumatic insemination” besides bedbugs. A lot of mites, come to mind. Some male mites will even inject semen into the testes of other males (thus causing the victim to spread the attacker’s genes when mating), which brings a whole new level of trauma to my mind. Some rotifers do it as well (basic traumatic, not male-male traumatic), if I remember correctly.

        • Awesome! Nature is so bizarre. And I don’t know nearly enough about mites apparently! Now I need to look into them. See, this is what I mean about learning new things via my blog! Now I know that mites are way cooler than I thought previously, thought I’ve always thought they’re awfully cute. :)

  2. Draggy, my dear,

    You are, as always, right on target. Yours was the FIRST bug blog I discovered, and, as you said, it has opened up a whole new universe of OTHER bug geeks out there. Thanks.

    • I hope you get to experience #1 and 2! They’re fantastic! There’s also nothing like communicating with other bloggers and readers to keep you motivated. I have a set schedule that I stick to and I feel like I might be letting people down if I miss a day. It might not actually be true, but it makes me keep posting. :)

  3. i am a foreign language teacher and amateur photographer that loves bugs and loves your blog! I learn so much. Your topics, writing style, sense of humor and creativity make your blogs stand out… One of the best things I did of late was save to buy the book “A Dazzle of Dragonflies”, which you wrote about and I purchased because of your review and the cool photos it promised… I am finding out how amazingly interesting the book is. The origin of the word dragonfly, other names used, myths and origin stories… such wonderful information. I just started the book and I lpick it up whenever I have a free moment. It was fun following “Swarm Sundays”. I wasn’t brave enough to participate this year. I wanted to read and follow the procedure, but I plan to participate next year. The ideas you wrote about for the Bug Festival gave me inspiration for the Nature Club theme at our school’s annual Fall Carnival. Posts on water beetles, fire ants, bug music, bug books, bug art… So much I get out of reading the posts of Dragonfly Woman. What a happy accident it was to tumble onto this blog. Thanks for all you do to promote the insect world.

    • Wow! What lovely compliments! I am very glad you are enjoying the blog and getting something out of it. I’m also happy you’re enjoying Dazzle of Dragonflies! It’s such a beautiful book to look at, but the text is very interesting too, which makes it a great thing for anyone with an interest in dragonflies to read.

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