Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at
Sat Mar 30 17:14:38 EST 2002

I am stunned by the apparent wealth of  natural history publications for
Alberta. It sounds like Alberta must be the center of civilization.
Who publishes these gems, and how markets them to a population that must be less
than 3 million people.

In New Jersey (population almost 8 million), we can't seem to interest
publishers in an illustrated flora or flora series, much less books on
particular subgroups of insects, other than butterflies.  We did just get a
spectacular little HERP guide with photos.

Mike Gochfeld

Barb Beck wrote:

> Hi all,
> We have a lot of people here paying attention to bugs.  In fact a book on
> bugs topped the BEST SELLER LIST in Edmonton for several weeks a few years
> ago.  I am speaking about something by our very own Nature Nut John Acorn.
> Last I heard John's little butterfly book had outsold a well known popular
> NA field guide - and that is just in Alberta!! We have a lovely field guide
> to the Tiger Beetles by that same character.  It is an excellent book and
> allows us to easily identify all of these guys.  He is working on
> damselflys, dragonflies,  snazzy moths, and it is too early in the morning
> for this old brain to remember some of the others.  We have a pair of our
> univeristy students, Christine Rice and Jon Hornug who have been going
> around the province enthusiastically spreading their love of dragonflies and
> damselflies. They have developed a good local key and anybody who has heard
> them talk wants to get out and see as many of these bugs as they can.
> All of it boils down to good field guides which can be used easily.  With
> birds you can start with a guide which covers the entire country (although
> the eastern US has always had the luxury of a local guide in the Peterson
> series where the eastern birds are split off and then the far greater
> diversity in the rest of the country is dumped into a Western guide) A bunch
> of people (like me) did not get into really trying to identify all the
> butterflies here until others did all the work for us lazy soles and gave us
> good books to learn them easily.  The problem with beetles is even more than
> with the butterflies - there are a lot more of them.  The Peterson guide can
> only get us usually to genus and we have to be happy at that.
> These books by people like Acorn, Bird, Kondla, Pike, Sperling, Hilchie,
> Guppy and Shepard are written by people who really want to share what they
> know about these creatures and not to make a lot of money slapping together
> something which is supposed to cover a huge area (but does so inadequately)
> in the hopes of having a lot of customers.  They realize that we cannot
> protect what we do not know and what is not appreciated by enough people to
> matter to politicians.  The books mentioned above are mainly labours of love
> and I am sure did not even start to cover the authors time invested. Best I
> can do is encourage people to use them.
> If you know a group of insects well in your area find a local publisher OR
> put together a web site to share your information with others.  Get the
> information out there in a convenient form and people will use it.
> Barb
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Michael Gochfeld [mailto:gochfeld at EOHSI.RUTGERS.EDU]
> Sent: March 30, 2002 5:34 AM
> To: Ron Gatrelle
> Cc: TILS group
> Subject: Re: [leps-talk] Birds to bugs
> I share (or shared) Ron's beetle frustration, and am experiencing the same
> with
> wasps and bees which
> are attracted to nectar sources in our garden. I'd like to know more about
> them, but many  elude species-level identification.
> But that is because we (like the birders) are species jingoists.
> If we don't know the species name, the thing holds no interest for us.  Yet,
> if
> it is something that we are not specifically studying, why is knowing the
> genus
> (or even the family) not enough to convey a sense of appreciation.
> Mike Gochfeld
> Ron Gatrelle wrote:
> > Alex wrote
> >
> > snips
> > >
> > > I found in dealing with certain individuals who have, in particular, a
> > > background in Ornithology or "bird-watching", that there is a certain
> > > ignorance in WHAT the study of the butterflies involves. One prominent
> > > person, in particular, was quite offensive to me when he advised me that
> > > "all those subspecies and forms" which I am concerned about knowing, are
> > > "inconsequential and a waste of time", and that the system employed in
> > > "modern butterfly study" works quite well for birds.
> > >
> > > Well, we are not dealing with birds, rather with butterflies.
> > >
> >
> > I predict that we will never have full fledged Beetle Watchers.  I got a
> > tiny bit interested in beetles several years ago when the famous eastern
> US
> > lepster Steve Roman started getting interested in Tiger Beetles.  Once I
> > began to find that many beetle species can not be told apart by just
> > looking at them - various chemical or DNA analysis were necessary with
> > many - I lost interest.  Oh sure there are plenty of beetles, bugs,
> hoppers
> > etc. than one can eyeball ID.  But to really get into them?  Well, we are
> > talking about the largest order of critters on the planet - thousands of
> > tiny LBJs. (little brown jobs) that all look just alike.
> >
> > The point is that as we move from mammals to bacteria - the methodologies
> > shift in increments.   I know sometimes we lepidopterists seem to be
> > "chewing" on the birders, and this may be so.  We are just trying to say
> > that only part of the birder stuff works here - the oval peg does not fit
> > in the round hole.   On the other hand we lepidopterists feel (a paranoid
> > thought) we are being "pecked" at by _some_ of the birders who have hopped
> > over.  (I don't count Kenn among these)
> >
> > Does one want a general knowledge of butterflies?  moths? wasps? flies?
> > what?    Or, does one want to gain an in-depth knowledge of butterflies --
> > and/or  moths?   Within any area, the depth to which one wishes to go will
> > dictate the types of books, methods, time etc devoted to that desired
> > depth.  There is not a "universal standard" of book, method, time etc.
> that
> > will facilitate all levels.  So there needs to be diversity of
> > literature -- and activities.  The problem is when one type or book or
> > activity is being shoved upon all by one perspective (regardless of its
> > "level" of depth).
> >
> > Ron
> >
> >
> > TILS Motto: "We can not protect that which we do not know." © 1999
> >
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