Thursday 28 January 2010

Tuesday 26 January 2010

The Phasmid Study Group and Livestock Exchange

I will write about the recent PSG Meeting once I have had a chance to photograph some of the species that I bought back from there. There are some photographs of the meeting online already: PSG Winter Meeting and AGM 2010.

The one thing that I would like to say outside of that report is a comment on the availability of livestock. The group has traditionally been the source of many species entering culture in Europe, mainly through the collecting efforts of its members. This has also helped develop the collections of many museums, in particular the Natural History Museum, London. In turn this has helped to facilitate the large amount of recent taxonomic work on this order.

The over-arching principle of this process has been free-exchange. You bring your surplus to the meeting, or send it to the livestock coordiantor, and in return you can get different species. This works well to an extent. it is also open to abuse, with people taking livestock and never contributing any in return, or taking livestock and selling it to others. I imagine a fair few people take species they don't have the experience to keep and the culture suffers as a result.

So, I aks all of you (not just PSG members), do you think anything can be done to help this situation? Please reply with ideas or comments, or e-mail me.

Large scale cockroach farming

Well, large enough to keep your reptiles fed....

This was posted on The Cockroach Forum, which is incidentally probably the best place for all you 'roach lovers and breeders to hang out and ask questions.

Saturday 16 January 2010

Rational Mantis

Combining my love of insects with a passion for reason. Awesome.

Friday 15 January 2010

New cricket species filmed pollinating orchids

Read the story (and get a better version of the video) at BBC News: New cricket species filmed pollinating orchids.

Wednesday 13 January 2010

Calendar has arrived...

As I mentioned in a previous post, I ordered the StickTalk calendar which included my image of Eucles bifasciatus. Well, it has arrived!

I promised I'd review it, so here goes. Positive things first - it is printed on high quality card and the design is pretty professional. Some of the photographs however leave a great deal to be desired technically. It's good to have the insect in focus (preferably all/most of it in focus). This isn't the case in some cases, and it's a shame.

In fact it's not a shame, it's a travesty. There were some submissions that are excellent pictures but they didn't get included. I can only assume this is a product of the system of voting - perhaps next time it would be good to have a judging panel instead?

I'm aware this may sound like some sort of snobbery - but it's not. I'm the first to keep out of focus images, they can be useful (good enough to ID a species, a visual record of observations, etc), I just wouldn't have them on display around my desk.

On a slightly differnet note - we may have some examples of the first of the new Phasmid Study Group t-shirts and polo shirts at the meeting - assuming that they arrive on time!

Monday 11 January 2010

Insect Humour*

*humour as defined by entomologists at the recent Entomological Society of America meeting.

Looking back at 2009

In a brief editorial to the latest Phasmid Study Group Newsletter I said that for phasmatologists it had been a good year with several major papers (I will say something about the partial review of Phyllium by Hennemann et al soon), a field guide to the Australian stick and leaf insects by Paul Brock (I reviewed it here), and a number of new species bought into culture.

Personally it's also been good, in particular a trip to Costa Rica but also e-Biosphere, work on the Blattodea SpeciesFile, visiting the SpeciesFile team and a new job at the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature.

In the blogosphere (bugosphere?) we have seen new offers from Erica McAlister (Curator of Diptera's Blog) and a student blog from the entomologists at the University of Illinois (I went there this year too).

So despite what you may hear or feel, there are still some good, new and exciting things happening in the world of insects.

Sunday 3 January 2010

Phasmid Calendar

The guys at StickTalk have put together a calendar of members' photographs, including one I took while in Costa Rica last year. I have just ordered my copy - I will review it when it arrives. My contribution is shown below.