Time to meet another ESC Blog Admin, but first an update.

The ESC Blog has been going strong all summer, and is quickly becoming established within the “Bug-o-Sphere”; sometime today we’ll hit a total of 5,000 visits from 85 different countries, just 2.5 months after launching! For comparison, that’s about half the number of athletes and the same number of nations that took home at least one medal from the 2012 Summer Olympics! None of this would be possible without the support of the entomologists and insect enthusiasts from across the country who have taken the time to share a story, advice, or a snapshot of their research with us.

As the insect season starts to wind down and the entomology conference season approaches, we encourage you to share your favourite photos, stories from the field, or even introduce yourself, your work or your lab to the world. Feel free to email us at entsoccanada@gmail.com with your ideas and stories because we can’t wait to hear from you!

As the ESC Blog Admins, we figured we’d break the ice and tell you a little bit about ourselves before we start bugging each of you to do the same. You met Crystal last month, so I guess it’s time you got to know me, Morgan.

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Morgan D. Jackson Self PortraitGrowing up in a semi-rural, mid-sized city with a strong interest in zoology, I went to the University of Guelph with the intention of becoming a veterinarian, which, other than farming, was the only career I was exposed to in which I’d get to work with animals. By my second year at university I realized there were way more options for an animal geek like myself, so I took as many zoology courses as I could fit into my schedule.

In my third year I signed up for an insect diversity & natural history course on a whim, and the rest, as they say, is history. Of course I had known about insects before this course, but I hadn’t taken the time to look at them closely, to realize the many ways in which they had evolved to survive, the morphological differences that revealed whether a species was the diner or the dinner, or even realized the shear number of species that had literally been around me my entire life! It was like I had stumbled into a secret world that hardly anyone else knew about, but which was filled with so much to discover that I knew I could never look away again.

This first entomology course also taught me how many insects were out there waiting to be discovered, named, and placed onto the tree of life. The prospect of travelling and exploring the world, catching flies, and then being the one to give them names captured my imagination, and when I realized I could actually get paid to do all this, I joined Dr. Stephen Marshall’s lab and started my career as an insect taxonomist.

Working with Steve at the University of Guelph Insect Collection, I completed my Masters of Science last year studying the taxonomy and phylogenetics of stilt-legged flies (family Micropezidae), and I’ll soon be starting my PhD to continue my work on this group.

When I’m not working with flies, I spend my time promoting entomology and trying to make the world’s insect fauna more accessible to the public. I’m the technical editor for the Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification, an ESC journal developed to publish illustrated keys for insects and other arthropods, and am a co-author on a soon-to-be-released field guide to Northeastern Jewel beetles (family Buprestidae). I developed an interest in macro photography in 2007 (working with Steve I suspect this was probably inevitable) so I could show my friends and family why I thought insects were so cool, and in 2010 I started my blog, Biodiversity in Focus, to share my passion for entomology even further afield. Like Crystal, I feel that social media has the potential to revolutionize not only the way in which scientists go about their day-to-day research, but also their interactions with each other and the public.

And this is why I think the ESC Blog is such a great resource for entomology in Canada. With the support of the Entomological Society of Canada and researchers from across the country, we can raise awareness about insect-related issues, share exciting research being done in Canadian labs, and expose students to the many opportunities and careers in entomology. The Entomological Society of Canada is breaking new ground with its ESC Blog, and I’m proud to be associated with it.

Who knows, if the ESC Blog was around while I was growing up, I may have gotten a head start on my fly collecting!

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If you’re interested in learning more about my work, you can follow along on a variety of social media websites: TwitterGoogle+MendeleyYouTubeFourSquarePinterestProject Noah, and iNaturalist.

ESC Caption C1 P2

We had a great response to last week’s photo, so thank you to everyone who played along. We’ve got an all new photo for you to caption today, but first we need you to vote for your favourite Photo 1 caption.

ESC Caption Contest C1 P1

[polldaddy poll=6409189]

We’ll post the results and award some points next week.

Now, onto this week’s photo (here are the rules if this is your first time):

ESC Caption C1 P2

ESC Caption Contest C1 P2 – Photo by Morgan Jackson

Have fun!

Got a great insect photo? Submit it to the 3rd Annual BugEye Photo Contest presented by the Entomological Society of Ontario!

Acorn Weevil by Crystal Ernst

2011 Winning Photo, Open Category: Acorn Weevil by Crystal Ernst

Prizes for:
– Best photo (open category): $50
– Best photo by an Ontario resident: $50
– Best photo of an Ontario insect: $50
– Best photo by a kid under 13: $50

Open to everyone, no entry fee!
(Ontario resident includes anyone who currently makes their primary residence in Ontario, international students welcome!).

Submission deadline: Sept. 6th, 2012

Submit photos to: esophotos@gmail.com

Winners announced: September 30th, 2012

Copyright for the photo remains with the photographer, use must be granted for ESO promotional material. Winning photos will be displayed on the ESO website, and all entries will be displayed at the 149th Annual General Meeting of the ESO.

Interested in meeting other entomologists and learning more about Ontario insects? Join ESO! It’s free for students and amateurs, and only $30 for others. Get more information at http://www.entsocont.ca.

Rules:
1. Photos must be of insects or closely-related arthropods (e.g. mites, spiders).
2. Submissions must be as digital files
3. Photographic enhancement is allowed as long as it is something that could be achieved in a real darkroom (i.e. adjustment of contrast, color enhancement, cropping, etc.). However very obvious enhancements will be negatively scored.
4. You may submit up to 3 unique images per category.
5. Submit photos as 7.5 x 10 inches in size at 300 dpi (2250 x 3000 pixels), in .jpg format, with filename as title_lastname_firstinitial.jpg (e.g. dragonfly_smith_j.jpg).
6. Photos may be landscape or portrait in orientation.
7. Print photos must be scanned and submitted as digital files.

Please include a short description of your photo:
1. Where they were taken
2. Why you like them
3. What insect is pictured
4. What category is being entered
5. Your complete address

Judging criteria:
1. Image composition
2. Visual impact
3. Subject interest
4. Sharpness of subject
5. Difficulty of image acquisition
6. Depth of field within image

Scientists are taught to remain objective about their study organisms and not anthropomorphize behaviours or biology. Sure, this might be useful for preventing bias in results, but it can suck the fun right out of day to day work!

Here’s your chance to act less like a scientist and have some fun with the insect world. Every 2 weeks we’ll post a new photo of an insect (or other arthropod), and your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to come up with a witty/funny/clever caption.

Although being given the chance to showcase your witticism and comedic chops for everyone on the internet to see should be award enough, we know people really like prizes, so here’s how it’s going to work:

  • Take a look at the photo and submit your best caption ideas in the comments (Please keep your captions PG-13. If this is your first time leaving a comment on this blog it will need to be approved by an ESC Admin before showing up. Once we’ve recognized you’re not spam and approved your comment, all your subsequent comments will be visible immediately after posting. Any captions or comments judged by the ESC admins to be derogatory, denigrating, or discriminatory will result in you being banned from commenting further effective immediately)
  • Crystal & I will select up to 5 of our favourite captions for each week’s photo
  • You’ll then get the chance to vote for your favourite nominated caption
  • The authors of the Top 3 voted captions will score points (5 points for first, 3 points for second, 1 point for third)
  • After 8 photos (4 months) we’ll tally the points and award some yet-to-be-determined prizes (don’t worry, we’ll make sure they’re awesome and entomological) to the caption-creators with the highest accumulated scores!

Think of it as American Idol meets The New Yorker, but with more insects and less Simon Cowell.

Also, if you took an insect photo which you think is just begging to be captioned, send it in to us and we’ll be happy to use it in the contest.

Without further ado, here’s photo #1! Good luck & have fun!

ESC Caption Contest C1 P1 – Photo by Morgan Jackson

The ESC Blog is off to a fantastic start, and we admins couldn’t be more proud of our amazing bloggers.  The response from the Canadian entomology community has been tremendous – which is really no surprise, but still wonderful! Readers have been joining us from all over the world (59 countries!) and we’re so pleased that some of you are engaging with us by leaving comments.

We thought that it would be a good time to introduce ourselves, so you know who’s working away behind the scenes: today you’ll meet Crystal.
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Hi!  I’m a PhD candidate in Chris Buddle’s Arthropod Ecology lab at McGill University.  My current research interests include beetle assemblages in Arctic Canada and functional ecology. My earlier research at Carleton University (I did a BSc and MSc under the supervision of Naomi Cappucinno) involved plant-insect relationships  in the context of biological invasions.

In addition to my academic pursuits, I love to teach, take pictures of insects, and spend time outdoors exploring the natural world.

I’m also very interested in science education and outreach, which is why you’re finding me here at ESC Blog.

Online science communication is a big part of who I am and what I do, in addition to my normal grad student research activities. I have been blogging as “TGIQ”  at www.thebuggeek.com since 2009.  There, I write posts about insect natural history, insect photography, my own entomological research, and more broadly about my experiences as a graduate student interested in a career in academia. I am also an administrator at the research blog of The Northern Biodiversity Program (NBP), of which I am a student member, and I am a contributing authour at the Grad Life blog, where I write about the graduate student experience at McGill University.

In addition to blogging, I can usually be found posting tidbits of entomo-goodness on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Networked Blogs, Nature Blog Network, and Research Blogging.  I also have a YouTube channel that I use for teaching an undergraduate zoology lab.

Some people have tried to tell me that these activities are a waste of time, professionally. My personal experiences have shown this to be anything but true: I’ve established incredible networks of students, academics and other professionals; I’ve been exposed to fascinating cutting-edge science; and I’ve gained tangible professional benefits (think “publications” and “funding” and “collaborations”).  None of these would have been possible without my online activities.

I also think that science outreach is an activity that all academics should make time for – after all, we are doing science for the general public, not just for our fellow researchers! Our knowledge of and passion for entomology is something that deserves to be shared with others. Blogs are wonderfully accessible outlets; they represent an unparalleled opportunity for folks from different sectors and backgrounds to participate and exchange their knowledge and experiences – something that is not often achieved through traditional venues such as conferences and journals.

I’ll leave you with some quotes from a talk that I attended in March, by researcher and science outreach proponent Nalini Nadkarni. I invite – and strongly encourage – you to join the incredible online science community and consider participating here as an ESC blogger.

(Note: the English version follows)

Guillaume Dury, Étudiant à la maîtrise, Université McGill
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Dessous de Chrysiridia rhipheus, photo par Cody Hough sur Wikimedia Commons.

Le 7 avril 2012, l’article du jour sur Wikipédia était Chrysiridia rhipheus.

C’était un grand jour pour moi : j’ai écrit la majorité de l’article. Ce n’est pas pour autant mon article; dire cela irait à l’encontre de l’étiquette de Wikipédia. J’y ai tout de même passé des heures de recherche et j’ai écrit la majorité de l’article.

Tout comme des millions de personnes, j’utilise Wikipédia pour étancher ma soif de connaissances rapides. À juste titre, “«wiki»” est Hawaïen pour rapide. Seulement, il n’y avait pas de wiki-connaissances sur ce papillon de nuit qu’est l’Uranie riphée (Chrysiridia rhipheus).

J’étais toujours curieux; cette soif particulière ne resterait pas inassouvie. Puisque j’allais faire une recherche de littérature, aussi bien écrire un résumé au bénéfice des autres. Voilà comment je suis devenu un éditeur sur Wikipédia.

J’ai créé l’article le 5 août 2006, un peu avant de commencer mon baccalauréat en biologie. En tant que biologiste de formation, j’avais besoin de pratiquer les tâches concernées dans l’écriture de l’article. Le plus important fut de trouver l’information. J’ai pu trouver beaucoup d’information en ligne : dans les articles scientifiques et dans des livres numérisés par Google Books ou Internet Archive. J’ai aussi appris que, parfois, des références ne sont tout simplement pas disponibles en ligne. C’est alors que j’ai utilisé les prêts entre bibliothèques pour la première fois. Peu a peu, une référence à la fois, j’ai rempli les différentes sections de l’article.

La partie sur la taxonomie et la description de l’espèce fut beaucoup plus intéressante à écrire que je l’aurais cru. L’Uranie rhiphée, ou le “«papillon coucher de soleil malgache»” (de l’anglais “Madagascan sunset moth”) a toute une histoire derrière ses noms. Il est décrit pour la première fois, en 1773, sous le nom de Papilio rhipheus. C’est-à-dire qu’il avait été placé parmi les papillons de jour et non de nuit. Capitaine May de Hammersmith avait donné le spécimen à l’entomologiste britannique Dru Drury. Ce spécimen avait été “«réparé»” avec une tête de papillon de jour et ses antennes en massue. (NB : ne pas coller la mauvaise tête sur votre spécimen cassé!) En 1831, René Primevère Lesson l’avait décrit sous le nom Urania ripheus var. madagascarensis. Ce papillon a toujours plusieurs autres synonymes.

En utilisant les guides sur Wikipédia, en demandant d’autres éditeurs et en m’inspirant de d’autres articles, j’ai rassemblé et résumé de plus en plus d’information. J’ai fait passer l’article par le processus interne d’évaluation par les pairs dans Wikipédia en janvier 2007. Sur Wikipédia, les pairs sont d’autres éditeurs et pas nécessairement des entomologistes. Cela a aidé un peu, surtout pour le format article, mais je devais surtout trouver d’autres sources d’information à inclure.

Puis, j’ai contacté l’un des experts mondiaux sur Chrysiridia rhipheus, le Dr David C. Lees du Musée d’Histoire naturelle de Londres. J’ai été agréablement surpris; il était déjà éditeur sur Wikipédia. Il m’a dirigé vers des références importantes que j’avais manquées et a ajouté des informations lui-même. J’étais ravi.

Carte de cigarettes dépeignant une fée « Chrysiridia madagascariensis » en 1928, compagnie John Player & Sons.

En mars 2008, je jugeais que mon article avait atteint le niveau de “«bon article»”. Pour être reconnu comme tel, un article doit répondre à certains critères et passer avec succès le processus de mise en candidature de bon article. Avec l’examen et des suggestions de l’utilisateur Casliber, c’est ce qui s’est passé le 22 mars 2008 : j’avais écrit un “«bon»” article sur Wikipédia.

J’ai continué; j’ai fait des modifications, j’ai ajouté des références, des images, y compris une carte de cigarettes datant de 1928, et j’ai ajouté ce qui est probablement la seule photo de la chenille de cette espèce sur Internet. J’ai eu l’aide de l’un des principaux éditeurs des articles sur l’optique et la polarisation des articles afin de clarifier pour moi la polarisation de la lumière. Les écailles sur les ailes du papillon produisent les couleurs à travers deux phénomènes optiques, l’un dépend de polarisation. Le papillon ne dispose de pigment que dans les régions noires de ses ailes.

Ensuite, le 18 juin 2008, j’ai fait la mise en candidature de l’article pour qu’il soit reconnu comme article de qualité. Les articles de qualité sont considérés comme représentant le meilleur de ce que Wikipédia a à offrir, comme déterminé par les éditeurs de Wikipédia. Lors de ce processus, de nombreux éditeurs font des suggestions et demandent des changements à l’article. J’ai fait la plupart de ces changements et fait de mon mieux pour répondre aux questions. Le 4 juillet 2008, Chrysiridia rhipheus a été promu au statut d’article de qualité. Featured article en anglais; ce statut exceptionnel est signifié par une petite étoile dans le coin supérieur à droit! :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysiridia_rhipheus

En moyenne, l’article Chrysiridia rhipheus est visité à peu près une centaine de fois par jour. Le 7 avril 2012, il a été visité plus de 20 000 fois. Au cours des 90 derniers jours, cela fait un total de 37614 fois. C’est de la bonne diffusion!

Je répondrai avec plaisir aux questions de ceux qui s’intéressent à l’écriture de « leur propre » article Wikipédia. Tout commence par le bouton [modifier]…

Pour les professeurs : “«dans le cours ENTO 431 entomologie médico-légale, à l’université du Texas A & M, les étudiants ont la tâche d’écrire plusieurs articles sur Wikipédia concernant les espèces de mouches d’importance médico-légale.»” Le travail des étudiants sert alors leur cours et sert le but de Wikipédia de créer un résumé de toutes les connaissances humaines dans une encyclopédie libre et en ligne. (Pour plus d’informations, voir la page du cours sur Wikipédia (en anglais))

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By Guillaume Dury, M.Sc. student, McGill University
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Engraving captioned Urania riphaeus from Charles D. d’Orbigny’s Dictionnaire universel d’histoire naturelle (1849)

On April 7th 2012, on Wikipedia, Today’s Featured Article was Chrysiridia rhipheus.

It was an exciting day for me: I wrote most of the article. It isn’t my article; it would be against Wikipedia etiquette to say so. Still, I spent hours researching and wrote most of it.

Just like millions of people, I use Wikipedia to quench my thirst for quick knowledge. Appropriately, “wiki” is Hawaiian for quick. Only there was no wiki-knowledge on the Madagascan sunset moth (Chrysiridia rhipheus).

I was still curious; this particular thirst wouldn’t be left unquenched. Since I would search the literature, I thought I might as well write a summary for the benefit of others. That is how I became an editor on Wikipedia.

I created the article on August 5th 2006, a little before starting my bachelor’s in biology. As a biologist in training, I needed to practice the tasks involved, most importantly: finding information. I was able to find a lot online: in scientific articles and scanned books in Google Books or Internet Archives. I also learned that sometimes, references are simply not available online. That is when I used interlibrary loans for the first time. Little by little, one reference at a time, I filled the different sections of the article.

The section on taxonomy and naming of the species was a lot more interesting to write than I initially thought it would be. The Madagascan sunset moth has quite a story behind its names. It was first described, in 1773, as Papilio rhipheus. That is to say, it was described as a butterfly and not a moth. Captain May of the Hammersmith gave the specimen to the British entomologist Dru Drury, only that specimen had been “repaired” with a butterfly head that had clubbed antennae. (N.B.: don’t glue the wrong head on your broken insect specimen!) In 1831, René Primevère Lesson described Urania ripheus var. madagascarensis. The moth also has a number of other junior synonyms.

Using guides on Wikipedia, asking other editors and inspiring myself with other articles, I gathered and summarized more and more information. I went through Wikipedia’s internal process of peer review in January 2007. On Wikipedia, peers are other Wikipedia editors, not necessarily entomologists. This helped somewhat, especially for article format, but I really had to look for more sources and information to include.

I contacted one of the world experts on the Madagascan sunset moth, Dr. David C. Lees of the London Natural History Museum. I was pleasantly surprised he was already an editor on Wikipedia. He pointed me towards important references I had missed and added information himself. I was delighted.

A cigarette card featuring a “Chrysiridia madagascariensis” fairy in 1928 from John Player & Sons.

In March 2008, I felt my article was close to the level of “Good article”. To be recognized as such, an article needs to meet the good article criteria and to successfully pass the good article nomination process. With the review and suggestions of user Casliber, this happened on March 22nd 2008: I had written a “Good” article on Wikipedia.

I kept going, did more editing, added references and pictures, including a cigarette card from 1928, and what is probably the only photo of this species’ caterpillar on the Internet. I got help from one of the main editor of the articles Optics and Polarization to clarify light polarization for me. The scales on the moth’s wings use two optical phenomena to produce the colours, one of which is polarization dependent. The moth only has pigment in the black regions of its wings.

On June 18th 2008, I proposed the article for evaluation to be recognized as Featured. Featured articles are considered to be the best Wikipedia has to offer, as determined by Wikipedia’s editors. In this review process, various editors make suggestions and ask for changes to the article. I made most of those changes and answered questions to the best of my knowledge. On July 4th 2008, Chrysiridia rhipheus was promoted to Featured Article, this exceptional status is signified by a little star in the top-right corner!:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysiridia_rhipheus

On an average day, the article Chrysiridia rhipheus is viewed roughly a hundred times. On April 7th 2012, it was viewed over 20 000 times. In the last 90 days, that makes a total of 37 614 times. Good exposure!

I’ll happily answer the questions of anyone interested in writing “their own” Wikipedia article. It all start with the [edit] button…

Lastly, a note for the professors: “As a part of the ENTO 431, forensic entomology course at Texas A&M University students are assigned the task of writing several articles at Wikipedia pertaining to forensically important fly species.” The students’ work serves their course, and Wikipedia’s goal to create a summary of all human knowledge in an online encyclopedia. (For more information see the course’s Wikipedia page)

By Matt Yunik, Public Education, Entomological Society of Manitoba
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After a slow start, I can finally say that spring is in the air here in Manitoba. Summer students have started their work in the various labs and grad students are chomping at the bit to get back into the field. After the devastating flooding followed by unquenchable drought of last year, this field season shows promise for being more successful.

Memorial in the J.B. Wallis and R.E. Roughley Museum of Entomology, with a case of Dr. Roughley’s Dytiscid beetles.

The entomology museum here at the University of Manitoba has recently undergone some transformations. A modest but fitting re-dedication ceremony was held on March 27th for our newly named J.B. Wallis/R.E. Roughley Museum of Entomology. Dr. Roughley had always been a big promoter of the museum, earning it the status of being the largest insect museum in Western Canada and the first bar-coded database system for entomological collections in Canada.

The department’s Graduate Student Association, with the assistance of the current curator Dr. Barb Sharanowski, has secured funding and are assembling a stereoscope with digital imaging system that will provide stellar images that will be shown on later blog posts.

Finally, there are two points of interest to report from the ESM front. On April 18th the ESM held our new member social. Dinner and drinks were served with admission covered for all new members of the society. I personally enjoyed meeting other newcomers while spending time with some of the more senior members.

Also, the ESM youth encouragement and public awareness team is getting ramped up for the multitude of presentations through the summer months. We typically conduct over 60 presentations a year, the majority of which are for summer youth camps. It will be exciting to see how the influx of new faces in the society will add to these presentations.

On June 15, 2012, Rebecca Hallett, Chair of the Science Policy & Education Committee, sent a letter on behalf of the ESC to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Hon. Keith Ashfield (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans) and Hon. Peter Kent (Minister of the Environment) asking the Government to reverse their decision to close the Experimental Lakes Area. You can read the full text of the letter attached here. The letter was cc’d to Save ELA, and MPs Elizabeth May (Green Party Leader), Tom Mulcair (New Democratic Party Leader) and Hon. Bob Rae (Liberal Party Leader). The ESC was also added as a signator to an ad in support of saving the ELA printed in the Globe & Mail and the Winnipeg Free Press on Saturday June 16.

You can read the ESC’s letter to the government here.

Anyone interested in learning more about the ELA and/or adding your individual support to this initiative, should visit the Save ELA site.

Responses:

On Monday June 19, a reply was received from Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, expressing her dismay at the closure of the ELA and her intention to table petitions in the House of Commons supporting the continued operation of the ELA in hopes of reversing the government’s decision.

You can read Elizabeth May’s response here.

On Friday June 29, a reply was received from Hon. Keith Ashfield (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans).

You can read Hon. Keith Ashfield’s response here (PDF)