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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

July 31, 2010
Our book, The Curious World of Bugs, is being printed, and you may now pre-order on Amazon.  Follow the link on our homepage.

The Curious World of Bugs

If you want a great identification guide, we also strongly recommend The Kaufman Guide to Insects coauthored by Eric Eaton who frequently contributes to What’s That Bug?

Kaufman Field Guide To Insects

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Italics for genus and species names?                         Inbox        X
June 30, 2010
Hi Daniel,
Something I have been meaning to bring up for a long time is the convention in biology that the genus and species names of organisms are written in italics. (This is not true of any other higher taxa however: for example, family names are not written in italics). In situations like your site, where your answers to queries are written in italics, the genus and species name would be rendered in non-italics so that it stands out.
Maybe this is a stylistic choice that you made a long time ago, but since you have such a major following, and because you are educating so many people about biology, people who may know little or nothing about it, I thought you might want to consider this.
All very best wishes,
Susan J. Hewitt

Hi Susan,
Thanks so much for bringing up this issue as it has been a consideration for quite some time.  The italicized responses have been part of the What’s That Bug? design dating back to 1998 when the column first appeared in the photocopied “zine” American Homebody.  When the column went online in 2000, the format stayed the same.  When What’s That Bug? became a unique website in 2002, the italicized response format remained.  I have been in a quandry with how to deal with the convention of italicized genus and species names, and your suggestion to render them in non-italicized font is great.  However, if I took the time to retrofit the archives, I might not be able to respond to any new mail for months.  Since our website migration in 2008, there are numerous new features that the site offers, but preparing the archives for those items is an item for the back burner.  Perhaps one day there will be a real staff that can tackle things like that.  One of the major remaining tasks post migration is to take advantage of all the new subcategories.  Thanks again, and I will from this point on try to remember to post genus and species in regular, non-italicized font.

Hey, that sounds great Daniel, Thanks,
Susan

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

UPDATE
October 2, 2010

The publicist at Penguin/Perigee requested that Daniel make a video to stir up interest in radio and television appearances prior to the release of The Curious World of Bugs.  Here is a simple home video of Daniel in the tomato patch:

Though a Tomato Bug, which is Grandma Nanowsky’s name for either a Tomato Hornworm or a Tobacco Hornworm, could not be located at the time the video was shot, there is nonetheless some helpful information contained in the video on these large green caterpillars that feed on the leaves of tomato and related plants.


Update
August 18, 2010
There has been no progress on the oven mitts, but I do have the germ of an idea for the next book.  Sadly, I wrote so much in The Curious World of Bugs that there was no room for one of the chapters in the original pitch.  What’s That Garden Bug?  Well, today while posting the Milkweed Meadow, I wrote the beginning of the next book.

What’s That Bug in the Tomato Patch???
“Could that be a new book title?  The Milkweed Meadow or Goldenrod Forest would be much more fascinating books.  Or, I could just stay close to home and write Black Mustard and the Camino Real and its thriving Spider and Insect population in Elyria Canyon.“  I actually think I need to write the Garden Insect Book.

Get the Bugman on Martha Stewart
June 24, 2010
I have been working diligently with my editor Maria at Penguin/Perigee regarding my book, The Curious World of Bugs, which is due out in October.  Now I have been assigned a publicist who will be targeting various publications and radio and television shows for potential interviews, appearances and reviews.  I have gotten a Bee in my Bonnet regarding an appearance on Martha Stewart, and I am bound and determined to do my best to get Martha to notice me.  Of all the television shows, this seems like the best fit for my book.  Though we have never conducted a user profile of our visitors to What’s That Bug?, homemakers, who also comprise Martha’s target audience, make up a large percentage of the website traffic.  Somehow, I think that a personal touch will be required to get Martha Stewart to notice me amidst the deluge of appearance requests her staff must field daily.  To that end, I am designing a pair of oven mitts, making them and then hand quilting them as a gift to Martha.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

June 14, 2010
Alas faithful readers, we are taking a brief holiday to visit relatives in Ohio.  We will not be answering any letters for the next week, however there will be daily postings that we postdated prior to our departure.  We will be gone from 15 June through 23 June.  Feel free to browse our extensive archives because chances are quite good the bug you want identified is already posted on our site.

June 23, 2010
We returned to Los Angeles just before midnight, and we haven’t even begun to look at all of the emails that arrived in our absence.  We are certain that we will only be able to respond to a tiny fraction of what we received.  We did, however, want to take a few minutes to provide an update on some Ohio sightings that we experienced that brought back some fond, and one not so fond, memories.
We were thrilled to have been lucky enough to witness the emergence of Lightning Bugs or Fireflies for the first time in decades.  Our yearly June trip to Ohio is usually a bit earlier, but this year it seems that Ohio sightings are also running a few weeks early.  We saw our first Lightning Bug the day of our arrival on June 15 at dusk, and by 9:30 PM, there were hundreds of blinking insects in the back yard.  Greater Fritillaries also seemed to be most numerous this year.  In Mom’s garden, they were attracted to blooming privet, queen of the prarie, and a white clematis.  In the fields along the Ohio/Pennsylvania border, they were nectaring from milkweed and enjoying the hot and humid sunny conditions.  On one wooded country road, we saw a dead opossum carcass in the road.  As we approached in the car, a butterfly took flight.  We patiently waited and were treated to a gorgeous Question Mark landing right next to the car.  There were many Question Marks flying about and sunning on the roads, their appearance coming shortly after a morning thunderstorm.
Finally, a few days before leaving Ohio, the first Japanese Beetles of the year began to appear on the clematis.  They increased in number each day, and they had a particular fondness for the queen of the prairie, primrose and roses as well as the clematis.  We put water in a bucket and added a few squirts of motor oil and a squirt of liquid dish detergent and hand picked the beetles.  The oily and soapy water quickly killed them when they were dropped into the bucket.  Mom says in a few weeks, many of the plants in her yard will look like lace doilies because of the ravenous invasive exotic Japanese Beetles.
We would love to get photos of Fireflies, Fritillaries, Question Marks and Japanese Beetles from our readers.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

May 26, 2010
We arrived home from a tough day teaching at LACC today to find that the Designed Manuscript was back from the layout artist.  Now begins the difficult task of the final proof reading.  We are making minor changes, like word substitutions and we want to add the following theory on Dragonfly names:  “One might imagine that the Ear Cutter is the evil version, and the Ear Sewer might then stitch up the damage in the manner of a surgeon.
“  Please forgive us if for the next few weeks (curiously corresponding to final examinations, graduation, student learning outcome assessments and committee meetings) we only respond to and post a few letters a day.  The volume of mail is increasing with the approach of summer, and we still don’t have a staff.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

May 21, 2010
We are quite excited that we have been invited, as the recipient of the 2009 LACC Faculty Community Learning Award, to lecture before the Los Angeles City College Emeriti during the spring luncheon today.  Dare we end the lecture with a look at Edible Insects right before lunch is served???

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination