15 December 2005

Great books for bug lovers

Mark of Michigan Odonotes beat me to a review of A Dazzle of Dragonflies, a fantastic book for any bug lover, whether a sophisticated dragonfly hunter, or someone who just thinks they are neat and interesting. Mark's comments echo my own feelings on the book, so I totally recommend it.

Towards the end of the field season, I also picked up a copy of The Caterpillars of Eastern North America (the Princeton Guide). This is a fantastic and long-overdue field guide. Some may prefer the Field Guide to Caterpillars from the "Through Binoculars" series. I like the Princeton Guide better.

Of course, I recommend all the books over in my sidebar...they are the best dragonfly guides around.

And here are a couple of books that look very tempting, which are on my reading list. First is the Field Guide to Grasshoppers, Crickets, and Katydids of the United States. These are beautiful insects, and I have often wished I knew more about them. I'm going to pick this one up. If there are any Orthoptera experts out there, let me know what you think of this book!
Since I like the Princeton Guide so much, I expect I will also enjoy their Garden Insects of North America.

Happy holidays!

07 December 2005

Deer and invertebrates

Bootstrap Analysis, the host of the next Circus of the Spineless, posted a review of a recent paper on the impact of deer overpopulation on invertebrates. Then Snail's Tales commented on it as well, from the gastropod point of view.

While you're over there, don't forget to submit your own post for the next Circus to Nuthatch, who can be pestered at nuthatch.ba AT gmail.com.

02 December 2005

The next big thing

Good optics and great field guides helped make birding a hugely successful hobby (serious birders would find another word, I'm sure). Close-focus optics and field guides more suitable to identifying free-flying butterflies, rather than pinned specimens, boosted the popularity of seeking out these insects. The lastest beneficiaries of these tools has been dragonflies, which might be why you're here. The next bug folks might be looking for, photographing, listing, and posting about might be beetles. As one of the most abundant taxa on earth, we might be counting these things for a long time.

We found this Harlequin Flower Beetle (Gymnetis caseyi) in Texas slurping up some fermented slop that had been slapped out to attract sap-seeking butterflies. Those fine lines on the wing covers (elytra) are scratches, like gouges in the paint job of a Volkswagen.

One guy who is already thinking "beetle" is Mike Quinn of Texas Parks & Wildlife, who set up the Texas Beetle Information page, where you can see much nicer photos of the Harlequin Flower Beetle with references and other info.