Commode Collecting

Robert Thorn thorn at
Tue Jan 15 15:46:27 EST 2002

On 1/14/02 3:48 PM, "Mark Walker" <MWalker at> wrote:

> Ron asked the perfect question for lightening up the winter doldrums.
> Some of my greatest and fondest childhood collecting was accomplished in
> Barton Flats in the San Bernardino mountains of Southern California, circa
> 1968 - at a lighted outhouse.  We camped there often, and Arctiid, Sphingid,
> and Geometrid moths were favorites (sorry Leroy, at that time a Schinia was
> part of my leg) - it's no wonder that a child can take such an interest in
> insect collecting.  Perhaps it was Ron that said that he was first attracted
> to moths as a child.  For me, it was wasps and bees - but the fascinating
> moths that showed up at that outhouse light were clearly responsible for much
> of my disease.  There were also many beetles.
> Of course, as a child - who cared who might be busy using the facilities.
> That was a non issue for a kid  - except for the gender sign.  I do recall
> being rather discouraged when a particularly nice looking bug went over to the
> 'other' side.  Strictly taboo to even consider violating that rule.  Today -
> I'm not so sure...
> More recently, my son and I took a couple of moths from the lighted
> honeybuckets at the lower campground in Garden Canyon, Ft. Huachuca, Arizona.
> Yep - commode collecting can be very good (it's all a matter of perspective).
> Mark Walker.
> This is exactly what I admire about Mark¹s postings: unabashed enthusiasm, and
> a literate ability to recreate experiences that we all have shared to one
> degree or another.
> I¹ve always noted the propensity of outhouses to attract good bugs, or as an
> associate once put it, ³all the good sh‹ in one convenient place.²   My
> appreciation, though, was raised a notch here in Ohio when we visited
> campgrounds at several of the State parks in the forested southern portion of
> the state.  If you chose the non-electrical portions of the campground, not
> only were competing lights reduced, but the outhouses were composting type.
> The odor & the lights proved far superior to any light traps or bait lines
> that I could muster.  Their production was so fantastic that my daughter &
> son, normally uninterested in bugs, couldn¹t wait to show me some new creature
> they had found around the restroom.  It seems truly ironic that a virtual
> cesspool, in the right context, might stimulate new generations of biologists.
> Rob Thorn, Gahanna, OH

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