There are considerably more blogs out there that I would like to read than I feasibly have time to, but one that I do make an effort to keep up with is Beetles in the Bush by Ted MacRae. Ted is an entomologist by profession whose interests lie – as the name of his blog suggests – in the vast and fascinating arena of Coleopterans. Ted’s particular focus is mostly on tiger and wood-boring beetles, but his knowledge of this incredibly diverse group of insects always impresses me. His passion for members of the Order shows through in not only his writing but also his enthusiasm to share the marvelous world of beetles by generously helping others and answering questions.
When Ted expressed an interest in pursuing his idea of a blog carnival devoted to beetles, encouraged by the recent establishment of the amphibian and reptile carnival House of Herps, I was all for it. Ted set up An Inordinate Fondness, a new carnival devoted entirely to this broad group of invertebrates. The inaugural issue will be posted in the middle of this month. Below, Ted discusses some of the background of the new carnival. I hope you’ll join me in welcoming this newest carnival to the playground – not only through comments here, but also through submissions for the February edition! And yes, for those of us still trapped under layers of snow – submitting past posts is okay.
When asked by an English cleric what his studies of nature’s diversity had taught him about the Creator, 20th Century British geneticist and noted evolutionary biologist J.B.S. Haldane reportedly quipped, “He has an inordinate fondness for beetles.” While there is some uncertainty whether Haldane ever actually spoke these words, no one can argue with their truth.
In fact, nearly half of all insects and one quarter of all described living species are beetles—350,000 and counting. They occur in virtually every habitat imaginable and exhibit innumerable, often brightly colored—even iridescent—and architecturally elaborate forms. Their impacts on humans are also many, not only as pests and beneficial organisms, but also as cultural symbols and objects of passionate scientific and philatelic interest.
Given their unparalleled diversity and significance, I always found it puzzling that there were no nature blog carnivals devoted to beetles. Nearly all other main divisions of natural history study do – birds, trees, marine life, plants, and recently herps. Even moths, another great insect order, have their own carnival, but the only available outlet for posts dealing with earth’s dominant taxon is within the broadly circumscribed Circus of the Spineless.
All that is about to change with nature blogging’s newest carnival, An Inordinate Fondness—the monthly blog carnival devoted to beetles. The name honors J.B.S. Haldane’s perhaps apocryphal riposte when queried about what his studies of nature’s diversity had taught him about the Creator (a quote made even more famous by the breathtakingly beautiful An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles, written and illustrated by my friends and colleagues, Drs. Arthur V. Evans and Charles L. Bellamy).
An Inordinate Fondness will debut later this month—submissions for the inaugural issue are due by February 15. Like most nature blog carnivals, An Inordinate Fondness will be a migrating carnival—dependent upon a community of science and natural history bloggers to keep it going. An Inordinate Fondness is a celebration of beetles—of their indescribable beauty, amazing forms, and astonishing diversity. We hope you will join us in this celebration every month, as we highlight the best that the blogosphere has to offer on this fascinating group of animals.