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When you change that lightbulb

When you change that lightbulb
Hudson, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, USA
January 11, 2006
Look in the glass shade. You'll see some dead insects that were attracted to the light. They're usually well preserved, if a little bleached from the incandescent bulb. Sometimes there are a few hundred or even a few thousand mostly tiny insects. The latter is certainly the case in this photo.

What you are looking at here is the pile of insect remains after I picked out all the whole beetles (excepting the large ladybugs), but it looked a lot like this before I picked them out. In terms of count, I suspect the small homopterans (leaf hoppers) are the great bulk, but there were a few moths and caddisflies, a lacewing or two, some tiny hemipterans, an assortment of flies -- mostly small ones -- and an estimated 400 whole beetles (!!), which is what I was after. Also, dining on the dearly departed were one dermestid beetle larva and several 1mm-long booklice.

This batch came from the glass shade of a ceiling light that was on a customer's screened porch, which probably led to the insects being predominantly small -- small enough in many cases to pass through the screen.

For bugguide editors whose interest extends beyond beetles, I have left the above shot large so it can be zoomed in on (only editors can do this) and searched for items of interest.

For beetle fanciers like myself, I've grouped my coleopteran gleanings by family or size if unknown. I can see from my photos that some specimens wound up in the wrong pile.

Although bugguide is best known for photos of live terrestrial arthropods in nature, my hope here is to dramatically demonstrate that anyone who wishes to add new species to their collection of photos of specimens might do well to examine the shade contents next time they change a bulb.

Beatriz Moisset has suggested unlinking the images in this set and including them instead as thumbnails:

Moved from Frass.

It was fun but . . .
Don't you think that it is time to let it go? Does it really illustrate collecting methods or equipment? I don't think so. Anyway, even if you want to keep one or two images it still doesn't make sense to have a dozen.

I get the sense
that there is an agenda that I'm missing, possibly stemming from a forum discussion concerning BugGuide management, function, or philosophy. Is this so? If so, please link me to it.

I have regarded the BugGuide function as more than just an ever more complete taxonomic tree but also as a repository of behavioral records and observations, discovery, and anything the beginning collector or enthusiast may find interesting. If I may quote from the home page,

Making New Discoveries

More than just a clearinghouse for information, this site helps expand on the natural histories of our subjects. By capturing the place and time that submitted images were taken, we are creating a virtual collection that helps define where and when things might be found.

We capture never before seen behaviors and we have photos of species that you won't find anywhere else on the web.

As for the original post, if indeed "it was fun," then it should continue to be fun for some who arrive new to BugGuide, don't you suppose? I fail to follow your point about this not representing collecting methods. Searching through accumulated specimens in light fixtures is an excellent method of adding to a collection, whether of mounted specimens or photographic images. A photo of the light fixture would have made it complete. And the point of so many images? They show the variety and state of preservation of the specimens.

Do inform me please if there is some new BugGuide agenda I should be aware of.

: )
I had no idea that you felt that way. I thought that you were doing it for fun like when you used to post and frass images taken in Ecuador. We are all familiar with dead bugs piled up inside and beneath outdoor light fixtures; that is why I fail to see the usefulness of this photo. I expected that eventually you would finish sorting out your collection (you mentioned that on some of your posts) and thought that we would see close-ups of some select specimens so that they would allow further ID determinations. Now, if you provided a list of species collected this way, THAT would be of significance.

You're right that we are all familiar
with dead bugs accumulating in light fixtures but they are mostly seen as a nuisance, not a resource. I reasoned that if hadn't occurred to me previously to look through the assortment for recognizable specimens, there must be others who had likewise overlooked the potential of such dead bug litter. By dividing them out (beetles at least) into categories I was better able to demonstrate the collection possibilities and photography possibilities. As Eric Eaton commented on one of the images (this one maybe) this technique can produce species that are difficult to encounter by other means.

I saved the specimens and may someday produce the promised individual images but I need to replace my camera and/or ring flash unit in order to do a decent job of it. I'm not ready to invest just now :-[

Moved from Beetles.

Q: How many bug photographers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: One, in theory- but if he finds any beetles, forget about it!

Gave me a long chuckle too.
Actually, I had to remove the fixture so the old wire feeding it could be replaced with a new wire. I dumped the bug duff into an empty tupperware sandwich container and went back to my task. It's provided several evenings of cheap entertainment hunched over, sorting through the mess with watercolor paintbrush and hand lens under a bright light.

This is funny. It will make history.

What a treasure trove!
From now on I will look at all that debris with different eyes and renewed respect for biodiversity.
May I suggest that you link all these images using [thumb:#] instead of "same specimen"? You have lots of different specimens here!

Thanks Beatriz.
I had considered shooting and posting a photo of the assembled mass of beetles but forgot to do it till I had the beetles partially sorted. That would have made it easy to link in the way you suggest to the bug duff image. Instead, I continued my sorting and shot the groups separately, resulting in eleven images I would need to link for each photo.

I think what I will do is move the lot to Coleoptera as a collecting demonstration. I would like it to remain there. I will take and post photos of individual beetles from this assortment that can be sent to family/genus/species pages in the guide (or not). I've done several already.

Yes, a great resource:-)
I have found very interesting things in indoor fixtures: anobiid beetles, tiny parasitic wasps, and bethylid wasps for example. These are normally very difficult to collect. While you are at it, you might check on the smoke detector:-) No bugs, but....

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