The Entomological Job Market

I was recently asked to give a talk to some high school students about possible careers in the sciences.  Specifically, Entomology and related areas.  I had my not-so-trusty phone with me and was able to record my presentation.  I hope you enjoy.


New Episodes Coming Soon!


Music: The Underscore Orkestra


Coming soon…

Bugs Blood and Bones

Find the podcast on iTunes, Google or wherever the heck else podcasts live.

What demon monsters will we be talking about this time!?!

Podcast Returning Soon

Greetings fellow lovers of all things creepy and crawly! Brief hiatus for Pod continues for now. Projected return is Wednesday, June 6th! I’ve got something very special planned. Hope you paid attention to the end of my last episode.

I’m also hoping to do a Q&A episode. Send me your questions and I’ll get you some answers! Post here or PM me.

Until next time, keep calm, and carrion.

Pets, Pests, and Pestilence Perpetrators

In todays episode of random thoughts of entomo-interest, I was philosophical about the implications of the arthropod pet trade, whether the beetle will win or my cats, and what that might mean for the smaller infestations that crop up along the way.

Stay tuned to the very end for a brief snippet of what is to come in future episodes!

Please check out the Underscore Orkestra, an amazing group deserving of all of our praise.

New Jersey Dept. of Ag Info on H. longicornis

NYT Article Mentioned That Python in the Pet Store May Have Been Snatched From The Wild

Wildlife Laundering Through Breeding Farms

More on the Tick

108: Butterball Beetles & Bugs on Your Plate

If you were to conduct a random sampling of entomologists, you would find that there are a number of issues in which we firmly divide ourselves when it comes to important, life decisions. 

What are the best IPM methods?

Who is better: The Beatles of The Scorpions?

Would you be willing to host a bot fly in your body?  You know, for science.

And would you eat a bug?  And it’s here that we land today.  So let’s dig in, and get a taste of the history of insect eating.  Some pros, cons. and downright weird. 


Further Reading:

A Brief History of Entomophagy

The Natural History of Cheese Mites

7 Upscale Insect Dishes From Around the World

The 1903 Cheese Mites Film History

Cheese Mites Film

Nutritional Value of Insects from Around the World


A Brief History of Entomophagy

**Originally published several years ago as part of my project Arthropodology**

A recent YouTube video about seemingly arbitrary things mentioned how, though we here in the West consider the voluntary consumption of insects to be bizarre and taboo, we are in fact the minority.  The reality is that over 80% of the surveyed cultures on the planet consume insects on a regular basis.  It’s an odd thing when you really think about it.  Why don’t we consume bugs more often than we do?  Why do we have this seeming “natural” aversion to eating bugs whereas other cultures do it readily?  Indeed, many cultures look at our consumption of cow or pig to be bizarre.  Most North American and European cultures will gladly eat lobster, crab, or shrimp, but will run for the high hills if you pull out a deep fried cricket.  Or, Ceiling Cat forbid, a deep fried tarantula!  Why is that?  When did it start?  In a coming YouTube video I touch on these questions and go a bit further.  **Will link when this damned cold goes away and I can finish it**

Let’s start with the assumption that our species is an insectivorious one.  Why would I think that?  Evidence indicates that our closest non-human primate relatives, the bonobos and chimpanzees, regularly consume insects.  This is not incidental consumption, but regular and deliberate.  Gorillas and other primates are known to do this as well.  But that’s not necessarily enough; what about our ancestors?  Cave paintings in Spain dated 30,000 – 9000 BCE depict bee nest harvesting.  This could be indicative of honey or even larval harvesting.  Analysis of coprolites (fossilized poo) found in the Ozark mountains showed the remnants of ants, beetle larvae, ticks, and mites present.     I’ll break that down for you…scientists sorted through fossilized human poop and found leftover bits of insects inside.  Yup.  Cool huh?  😉

Pliny the Elder wrote of the Roman aristocracy’s love of beetle larvae reared on a diet of flour and wine.  Aristotle also got in on the action many years later writing about the best methods for procuring the tastiest cicada “larvae” (modern entomologists would refer to that stage as nymphs).  Silkworm pupae appear to have been consumed in parts of ancient Shanxi, China (~2500 – 2000BCE).

Ancient Romans, Greeks, many Native America tribes, Chinese, Australian Aboriginal peoples, and pretty much every other culture.  Because the West is largely influenced by the Judeo-Christian-Islam sphere of history you might be thinking that somewhere along that history rose a moratorium on the consumption of bugs.  Well, yes, and no.  All three of those religious rely on aspects of the Old Testament.  In those pages are rules stating the acceptability (kosher law) of some foods.  Guess what?  Crickets, grasshoppers, and locusts (winged grasshoppers) are A-Okay by OT terms.  There’s also reference in Exodus of this thing called Manna from Heaven.  Can you guess what that is? That’s actually the honeydew secreted by aphids!  Later on, in the New Testament, the travels of John the Baptist are powered only by the consumption of locusts and honey.  Scrumptious!  But bees, wasps, beetle larvae, and flies are definitely not kosher.

There it is.  Plain as day throughout the history of our species, all across the globe.  So why are we in the West so opposed to it?  To be honest, we’re not sure.  The prevailing hypothesis has more to do with a cultural shift in food acquisition rather than religious taboos.  Approximately 10,000 years ago many cultures made the life altering shift from hunting and gathering to plant and animal based agriculture.  Some cultures became reliant upon the growth and storage of grains while a few became dependent upon cattle and a pastoral lifestyle.  Though this intensive lifestyle allowed for more awareness and control over food production it also have the unfortunate side effect of making our previously mobile societies stuck in one location and thus more susceptible to disease and other previously unknown hardships.  Not only were disease epidemics more likely among human populations, they now would impact our cattle and flocks.  When locusts could once be used as a comfortable source of food, now they were a threat to our crops with the potential to devastate entire fields in days.

From there we see some critters making their way into western diets over the years but mostly they fall by the wayside until now.  There is a push to bring back the bugs.  Some think it’s just a novelty and will never get any full traction among westerners.  But I am hopeful.  With global food, especially protein shortages, projected in our not-so-distant future it is important we explore all avenues of making food readily available.  We need to get over our fear and irrational cultural perception that crickets are the enemy.  They may in fact, be one of the best chances we have at a sustainable and healthy future.

To learn more about the history of entomophagy, current and future prospects check out this FREE book:

Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security

Published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – Rome 2013

Episode 2: Early Origins of Forensic Entomology

New podcast episodes every other week.  So no new episode this week.  However, since I hadn’t set up the automatic posting with the service at the time, I’m sharing one if my first episodes with you.  If you haven’t already checked it out, go ahead and do so now!  Or don’t.  Up to you.  But here it is.

Check out Bugs Blood and Bones podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or where it’s hosted over at Podbean.


Testing the New Camera

I recently procured a TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) camera from an auction site.  Spent a hundred bucks that I wasn’t quite wanting to spend, but, that’s how it goes.  No more spending for a while.  Back to hot dogs and oatmeal.

Anyway, this camera is a lot of fun and I’ve been wanting a TLR for a while.  The problem is, I don’t know for certain which one it was.  The auction pictures weren’t great so I bid thinking it was one thing, but now that I have it, I’m reasonably certain it is not.  I had hoped it was the Yashica 635. This camera is a neat oddity in that it was Yashica’s only camera designed for both 120 and 135 (35mm) film.  Pretty neat!  There’s an adapter that allows you to put in a 35mm roll.  But, sadly, when I got this baby in my hands, it does not seem to be the 635.  However, I think it is the 635’s closest cousin, the Model D.  See below for the auction image I had to go on.


What was even more confusing, was when I got the camera, it came with the name plate from a completely DIFFERENT model of camera!  That of the Yashica MAT – EM.  Some quick searching told me that I did NOT have the EM, but just the name plat which comes equipped with a light meter.

Long story longer, I’m still playing with this camera and I’m going to see about giving it a good cleaning.  But after shooting a test roll of Ilford HP 5 400 iso film (my go-to film for testing a camera, I’m reasonably happy with the results.  There’s a definite learning curve when it comes to using a TLR, but I’m getting there.  See below for some photos I took of this first roll at the Inniswood Metro Park in Westerville, OH.

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