Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

This blog has moved.

Please update your bookmarks and feeds. This blog has moved to



The new RSS feed is:


If that URL looks familiar, it may be because myrmecos.net has always been my home on the web. I posted my first insect galleries there back in 2003, and the address remained my main site until recently. When I retired the myrmecos galleries last year in favor of smugmug’s improved technology at alexanderwild.com, I played with the idea of moving this blog to its natural domain.

Now I’ve done it.

The recent instability stemming from the Scienceblogs kerfuffle gave me the excuse I needed. I considered offers from other science blogging networks to host Myrmecos, but in the end I liked being able to run my own ship. I get a degree of control over the feel of the site that networks can’t match. And I can kill those annoying advertisements that surface here and there in some browsers.

I apologize once again if you have to update bookmarks, blogrolls, and feeds. This move will be permanent, insofar as these things can be.

If you miss the old myrmecos, don’t despair! It lives on as an archive here:


Read Full Post »

…our beekeeping class is harvesting their hard-earned honey crop this morning and I won’t have time to beetle blog until this afternoon.

Read Full Post »

…I’m guest-blogging a collecting trip in tropical Australia from a few years back.

Read Full Post »

In the wake of the Scienceblogs fiasco I have been thinking about the conundrum faced by bug bloggers who decide to offset the costs of their hobby by selling ad space. I’ve noticed a pattern.

All- not just some- but ALL the bug blogs that are supported by advertising serve those godawful Terminex ones. You know the ones I’m talking about, with the scurrying roaches and the scare quotes about Salmonella. It’s as if Terminex decided to take half their PR budget and buy up the blogosphere.

It doesn’t matter if every blog post is about the beauty and wonder of insects, and how each is a splendid marvel of nature. It doesn’t matter if the readership is like-minded buggy folk who cringe at the very thought of pesticides. Terminex will plaster a scare ad across the top.

There is a valid role in our society for pest control companies. It just happens to fill 10% of the space the current industry inhabits. The rest is snake-oil salesmen scaring homeowners into needlessly throwing money at them for imaginary problems. While I do know some excellent pest control people, much of the business- and especially the large internationals- is populated by the ignorant, the money-grubbing, and the ethically-challenged.

Judging from the current blog ads, it seems bug bloggers don’t have a choice. If you run ads, you get Terminex. Surely there must be other companies whose products intersect with an entomologically-literate readership.

[editor’s note: we are not about to start serving ads here at Myrmecos. This is merely an observation stemming from what we’ve seen on other blogs.]

Read Full Post »

I suppose I should say something about the mess over at Scienceblogs.

If you haven’t been following the story, earlier this week Scienceblogs sold a valuable piece of blogging real estate to PepsiCo. A paid-for corporate blog was suddenly and without prior announcement dropped into the middle of our lineup of independently contracted blogs. It was a spectacular failure of management both in its execution and in its failure to anticipate the obvious reaction from the scienceblogging community. Several bloggers resigned- particularly the science journalists- and several others went on hiatus, including this blog.

Myrmecos is not a nutrition blog, and I am not a journalist, so on the surface I shouldn’t  be so conflicted by sharing a server with a Pepsi-sponsored corporate blog. And I am not, at least not on the basis of some sort of anti-capitalist sentiment. After all, many sciencebloggers rather transparently use the medium for hawking their own wares. Lots of folks promote their own books. We all get paid for pageviews. And I’ll be honest- I use the visibility of Scienceblogs to drive traffic to my image galleries.

So why did I suspend my activity at Scienceblogs?

The Pepsi fiasco was not an isolated incident. Scienceblogs has systemic organizational flaws that the kerfuffle revealed in grand fashion. I recognize all organizations have their weak spots, and all people make mistakes. But the errors made by management last week reflected not just little problems but rather large ones both in the long-term vision department and in the nitty-gritty implementation department. Pepsi was just the fizzy drink that broke the camel’s back.

Next week CEO Adam Bly has scheduled a conference call to discuss our concerns. I have not decided whether to keep Myrmecos at Scienceblogs- I will wait to hear what Mr. Bly has to say before making any final decision. At this point, though, it’s going to take an honest commitment to structural- and ethical- reform to convince me to stay on.

That’s all I have to say. If you’d like additional reading on the whole sordid soap opera I recommend these fine links:

Read Full Post »

Hope you found your way over here from Scienceblogs for the answer you’ve all been waiting for.

What was that sleek little black and yellow insect?

Commentator JasonC, in fine form, correctly guessed the colletid bee Hylaeus for all ten points. Here’s another view:

Hylaeus sp.

I’d also like to thank the commentariat for the excellent discussion about how these mysteries should be graded. Should guessers list their rationale for arriving at the answer, as GrrlScientist does for her mystery birds? I’ll have to mull that over.

Read Full Post »

A Change of Venue

A big announcement this morning: Myrmecos has joined ScienceBlogs. Update your bookmarks!  The new URL is:


The move has been in the making for nearly a year. I guest blogged at SB’s “Photo Synthesis” last April and was invited to stay on, but I resisted for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the biggest is that I’m rather fond of WordPress as a blogging platform. I like this blog as it is, where it is, and embedded within the warm fuzzy environs of the (mostly wordpress) nature-blogging community.

But  it seemed increasingly short-sighted to forgo the greater visibility of ScienceBlogs for such curmudgeonly reasons. After all, it’s not like none of my regular readers (that’s you, Mom!) will be able to find the new location over at ScienceBlogs. Plus, I was able to move the entire archive over- comments and all.

What will change with the move? Aside from the font, my hope is not much at all. We’ll have Friday Beetles, Monday Mysteries, a bit of photography and commentary on the scientific literature. Taxonomy Fails, both mine and others. Occasional photographs of our cat. So, we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing.  See you over there!

Read Full Post »

Anatomy of an Error

If you’ve been following the Taxonomy Fail and subsequent Myrmecology Win, you’ll know that the real Fail was my own. That blurry mash of legs and cuticle is indeed an ant, and I missed it.

That I failed to discern an ant in the original image doesn’t bother me. After all, the photo was the equivalent of an amber inkblot, with key bits out of focus, and the paper itself provided no support for the identification. I stand by my comments about the burden of proof lying with the authors- the paper did not adequately justify its conclusions. Partly, this is less the fault of the authors than the publishing model, where top-tier journals increasingly converge on substance-free marketing venues, the details required to properly evaluate the research relegated to online supplements or lesser journals. But that’s a topic for another day.

Fortunately for us, Vincent Perrichot, one of the study’s authors, was generous enough to share a more detailed image and fill in the missing detail. The specimen turns out to be quite a find. It’s as old as the sphecomyrmines, yet it doesn’t look like them, or like any modern ants we know. We’re in for a real treat when Vincent finishes his more thorough reconstruction of the fossil.

Rather, my more serious failing was the snarky tone I adopted in the original post.  That was inappropriate for covering a scientific paper, and I apologize for having crossed the line.

Read Full Post »

Saturday Links

We’re hosting a party for the roller derby girls, so I’m otherwise preoccupied today. Help yourself to some links, though:

Read Full Post »

What was that dashing bug in pastel colors? As so many of you picked, it’s a palmetto planthopper.

Order: Hemiptera
Family: Flatidae
Genus: Ormenaria
Species: rufifascia

Points are awarded as follows: (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »