Bug Girl is obsessed with insects and the ways in which our culture interacts with insects and nature. A professional entomologist by training, she’s an administrator by day and blogger by night. If you aren’t familiar with Bug Girl’s Blog, join her numerous fans and followers, starting with these posts:
Bug Girl, Why do you blog? What got you started?
I started a personal blog in 2004 as a way to communicate with friends. In 2006 I was invited to start blogging at Skepchick, and that sent me down the road of writing about science and insects. I do still put some personal stuff in the blog, but I try to have about 85% or more of the content insect-related.
What do you like best about blogging?
People! I have connected to so many different people all over the world. I feel like if I traveled to nearly any country, I could find someone to join me for a dinner and conversation.
I’m an introverted, bookish, science nerd. The internet lets people who love nature and gardening connect in really meaningful ways without having to deal with crowds. There is a lot of discussion about how “real” online friendships are, but I think they can be just as meaningful (if different), than meat-space friends.
What’s unique or different about your blog?
For a long time I was the only Bug Blog—now I have lots of bloggy siblings, if you will. All of them are very high quality, especially some from the younger entomologists!
My blog niche seems unique in the mixing of pop culture and LOLbugs along with traditional science. My snark quotient is much higher than the average nature blog.
I really love writing about the way insects are viewed by humans, whether it’s artistic, cultural, or political. I cover some traditional entomological topics too—but usually with a bit of a twist. And, you know, zombies.
Tell us about the name of your blog.
I’ve always been the ‘Bug Lady’ or the ‘Bug Girl’—women who are entomologists used to be relatively rare. We really stuck out as a novelty item. Female entomologists are now a little more common, although entomology in general remains a small and specialized profession. You have to be a little off (in a good way!) to want to be an entomologist.
How do you promote your blog and attract readers?
I Twitter, but generally, people seem to find me because I have content that answers a question they have, or they share my love of insects. Many of my top posts are in the “Ask An Entomologist” section, where I answer a commonly asked question about insects. The majority of my traffic comes from single posts that provide some information. Having good (useful and/or amusing) content seems to be the key.
However, according to Quantcast, 37% of the visits to my blog are from regulars who visit daily or weekly. That’s amazing and humbling. Thank you, everyone!!
The other way to bring people to your blog is to participate online by leaving comments and by generally being helpful. I love it when people comment on what I write, and participating in that online conversation is an important part of blogging. Unfortunately, my current job keeps me from doing that as much as I’d like. The whole system of working for pay constantly cuts into my blogging time! Grr!
Any comments on being part of the nature blogger community?
I’m really happy there is an alternative to the Scienceblogs.com network! I hope it will also become a go-to site.
Has blogging changed how you think about nature? Or how you write?
I really have to work to make sure what I write isn’t weighed down with scientific jargon—I struggle with that daily. Most science writing (the professional stuff in journals) is just about incomprehensible. Translating that for the lay audience is very difficult.
There are also some things I’ve been challenged to think more deeply about. I’ve mentioned various citizen science programs in my blog, and participating made me look more carefully at the world around me. The Firefly Watch project especially challenged me—I’m ashamed to say I never really looked at them in a systematic way before I got involved!
Mostly, though, blogging is a way for me to say what I really think in a way that the professional me can’t. Because I work for the state government, what I say in my official capacity has to be carefully weighed. As Bug Girl, I get to spout off more.
Any words of wisdom for new nature bloggers?
Don’t worry if you’re doing it right. Just barge in and get started! You’ll get better the more you blog—it’s just like learning an instrument. Practice makes you get better.
And if you are blogging anonymously like I am– don’t kid yourself that you won’t be identified. It’s pretty much impossible to separate your identity from what you do online. The best you can hope for is plausible deniability.
So, while I rant and rave online, using language that I can’t in the office, I don’t say things that I would be ashamed to say in real life. I just say things with a little more force online, and it’s an important way for me to vent.
Thank you, Bug Girl!