A guide to entomology outreach, even during a pandemic

Image of researcher with net in garden.

(Entomology Today) Entomology outreach is an essential part of inviting the public to learn about and engage with insects. Frequently, graduate students are at the forefront of engaging the public in this field. However, not every graduate student is prepared to interact with a pre-entomologist, nor are they convinced that this is an important activity. Here is a beginner’s guide to initiating outreach.

Rusty patched bumble bee found at Iowa nature center

The actual image of the rusty patched bumble bee taken by Amy Loving.

(Quad-City Times) Amy Loving was working at Davenport’s Nahant Marsh Education Center, taking photos of bees and other insects buzzing around the building in preparation for an upcoming program. Spotting a bee in some white clover, she crouched down to get a shot. Back inside the center some time later, she was scrolling through her images when suddenly she felt her heart begin to race. One of her pictures showed a bee with a rusty patch in its yellow backside.

Community scientists identify bumble bees correctly 50% of the time

Image of bumble bee on clover flower.

(York University) Think you can identify that bumble bee you just took a photo of in your backyard? York University researchers have found that a little more than 50% of community science participants, who submitted photos to the North American Bumble Bee Watch program, were able to properly identify the bee species. “Accurate species level identification is an important first step for effective conservation management decisions. Those community science programs that have experts review submitted photos to determine if the identification is correct have a higher scientific value.”

Stuck at home, scientists discover nine new insect species

Image of scientists in front of microscope in makeshift lab at home.

(Wired) Without a DNA sequencer, two Los Angeles entomologists relied on two of biology’s oldest tools: microscopes and lots of free time. Sifting through thousands of insects previously collected via a citizen science project, they ended up discovering nine new species of small flies. “It definitely makes me appreciate what scientists of the past were able to accomplish with rudimentary tools. I don’t have an ergonomic chair at home; I don’t have a fancy microscope. We are all feeling appreciation for things we take for granted.”