Friday 5: Great Bug Week

This was a great bug week for me! It’s National Moth Week, so that means there’s been a huge upswing in the number of insect-themed programs and activities available this week, and I got to participate in a few of them. So far, the best part of Moth Week was going to a full-day moth workshop, followed by blacklighting with several of my state’s top moth experts. It was great! However, I’m co-hosting my museum’s moth night tomorrow night and I suspect I will love that even more than the workshop. But several good bug-related things happened this week, including…



I spent a lot of time staring at my porch lights this week, snapping photos of moths for National Moth Week. I had a dinner meeting with some visiting entomologists on Tuesday and when I got home I found several of these a few inches from my front door. Mayflies! I am always thrilled when I find mayflies for some reason, probably because I don’t live in the sort of place that gets massive mass emergences and I rarely see the adults. I will freely admit that my whole expertise in identifying aquatic insects involves the stages that live in water and I could be completely wrong about this, but I think this is Isonychia sp (waiting on a confirmation). Regardless of what it actually is, however, I was super excited to see these! How can you resist those eyes?


Your Wild Life

I wrote a guest post on another blog! It’s about National Moth Week and how people can participate in the festivities. At the end, it tells you about the moth night I’m co-hosting tomorrow night. Want to come observe moths with me and some of the awesome people who work/volunteer at my museum? Or maybe you’d like to learn more about National Moth Week? You can read more about it in my guest post over on the Your Wild Life Blog. (Thanks, Holly, for inviting me to write this!) There there’s…


Dragonfly article

My first popular science article hit the streets on Monday! It’s also my first print article about dragonfly swarms and what I’ve learned from my Dragonfly Swarm Project. This is not a peer reviewed publication, but I’m excited anyway. The photos on the right page are both mine, while the awesome photo of the swarm against the sunset in Costa Rica was taken by a relative of mine. We’ll ignore the fact that I don’t have much evidence that either of the dragonflies in my photos are swarmers… They’re there to illustrate a few quirks of dragonfly anatomy and behavior that are part of why they’re able to fly so well and form the sorts of swarms they do, NOT to represent species you might see in actual swarms.

Then There’s This…


I adore luna moths! This is only the second wild adult I’ve ever seen, and certainly a lot nicer than the ratty, old one I saw in Missouri a few years ago. Luna moths are my very favorite moths and I think they are fantastically beautiful. That green! Oh! Just perfect. And there it was, sitting right out on a wall in the middle of the day. Even if the rest of the moth workshop I went to had sucked (and it didn’t), this one moth sighting would have made it completely worth it for me.

And Finally, This!

Spider and wasp

The photo is crap, but I had to share it anyway. I was sitting out on the back patio during the moth workshop, eating my lunch and talking to several of the moth experts about moths and photography and whatnot, when one of the guys got up and started snapping photos of something crawling around on the ground. He soon called me over and said I had to take a photo of what he was looking at. It was what you see in the photo. That’s a wasp (I suspect it’s Tachypompilus sp.) dragging a very large spider, presumably one that it has stung and is dragging off so it can lay eggs on it. It’s larvae will enjoy a great fresh, live spider buffet when they hatch. The spider wasps fascinate me. Their mode of life is so greusome because they eat their spiders alive, but it’s just such a cool system too.

So, lots of fun bug stuff happening in my neck of the woods this week! Any week that involves blacklighting is bound to be good, but I got to see some cool bugs and the products of some writing I did too. What a great week! And speaking of blacklighting, I’ve been working on developing a way to make a portable, free-standing, and inexpensive blacklighting rig and I’ve finally come up with a design that’s easy to construct and cost about $20. I’m field testing it at my moth night tomorrow, and if all goes well, I’ll share the design with you all next week!

Have a great weekend everyone!


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