Tuesday, December 13, 2016

5 Gift Ideas for the Entomologist in Your Life

Are you wondering what to buy the entomologist on your list ....  here are a few ideas that are sure to make your little (or big) entomologist a happy one this holiday season!

1 - Insect Collecting Kit.  Bioquip (bioquip.com) sells a couple of these, ranging from around $42 to $120.  These collection kits have everything you need to collect and mount insects for amateurs to professionals.  Both basically contain the same materials, one is just a better quality and "really fancy".  They have the basics you need: pins, insect net, forceps, a spreading board, and a collection box.

2 -Display Case for Collections.  Every entomologist loves to show off their collections and there are a number of options out there, in various sizes.  Glass covered display cases can be mounted to the wall or placed on tables as art work - everyone loves to look at an insect collection!  Craft stores sell shadow boxes with a fabric backing that insect pins fit into.  You can find these are Hobby Lobby or Michaels.  While these are great to hang on walls because they already have the hardware and are an inexpensive option, they are not air tight, so you'll need to remember to use moth balls or ??? to prevent dermestid beetles from ruining your collection.  Bioquip, hobby stores and scientific stores may carry more airtight boxes.

Shadow box with burlap backing.

3 - A Professional Insect Net.  Dinky nets can be found at the dollar store, but a real entomologist needs a good net!  Hobby and science shops and Bioquip sell a range of nets.  You can find various diameters for the nets and various lengths of the stick.My personal favorite is the dual net - they are strong enough to take a beating in some brush, but light enough to catch butterflies out of the air.

Bioquip.com. Heavy Duty Aerial Net.

4 - A Good Identification Field Guide.  There are soooo many out there!  My suggestion is to try to find one that is local to your region or state.  At the very least, chose a field guide for insects found in North America.

A Field Guide to Texas Insects by Drees an d Jackman

5 - A LIVE TARANTULA!  Every entomologist has some live arthropod they keep as a pet.  You can find suppliers everywhere, even pet stores.  I enjoy shopping from breeders.  They generally know more about the specimen they are selling you and can help you choose the right species for you tastes: something you can handle easily versus something flashy and pretty.  You can find breeders at reptile and exotic shows or online.  My suggestion is to ask to hold the tarantula first - that way you know if you are comfortable with it before you take it home.  You'll also know if its too fast or skitzy for you.
If you are local to San Antonio a good breeder with a variety of tarantula species is Nature's Exquisite Creatures.  Look them up on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NaturesExquisiteCreatures/

Friday, December 9, 2016

Bexar County 4-H Club Swept District!

The Bexar County 4-H Entomology Clubs took home the blue ribbons this past weekend at the District 10 Fall Round Up Competition.

For Juniors (grades 3-5) and Intermediates (grades 6-8), this was THE competition for the year.  They studied hard for several months and their hard work paid off!  Two Junior teams took 1st and 2nd, with three individual placements.  The Intermediate team took 1st, with two individual placements.  And our Bexar County Seniors took first and will head on to state!  Two individual seniors also placed.

Bexar County took first in all team categories and all individual categories!  These kids are SMART!

If you are interested in joining 4-H to compete in entomology, learning all about specific insects, their orders, mouthparts, habitats, and more, join us for 2017!  The next competition will be December 2017, but you can compete in the collection contest in June 2017.

To join, contact our office at 210-631-0400 and ask to speak to someone about joining 4-H Entomology. Or contact me at mekeck@ag.tamu.edu.

We'll start collecting and organizing our collections once the weather warms up again... around March.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Nature's Exquisite Creatures Meet and Greet - Wonderful Opportunity for some Christmas Shopping for those Entomologists on Your List!!!

Don't miss out on this opportunity to see some cool tarantulas and arthropods!  This is a great chance to do some shopping for those entomologists and insect lovers on your list.  If you already have tarantulas, you can sell, trade or do a breeding loan. 

Hope to see you there!!

Tarnished Plant Bugs

Calls are coming into the Extension Office wanting to know the identification of a small, almost yellowish brown bug on plants, houses, trees, and veggies.
Photo by Shanna Ciano

There seems to be an abundance of tarnished plant bugs or Lygus bugs.  They are relatively harmless.  When found in large numbers on veggies, consider if its getting near the end of that plants growing season.  If so, don't do anything.  If not, you may want to handpick or apply a foliar insecticide labeled for the plant when the bugs are present.

Weed management is important in reducing numbers of these guys, so be sure to take a look around and see if you are providing harborage with excessive weeds.