Future Entomologist

Madison MacRae collects butterflies from Asclepias tuberosa in a native loess hilltop prairie remnant in northwestern Missouri.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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23 Responses to Future Entomologist

  1. 🙂 That’s great! Does she pin and arrange them or does she just catch and release?

    I’m curious if you try to nudge her interests towards entomology or if you have a more hands-off approach?

    • Madison is all about catch-and-release. I do take a hands-off approach, only taking her out with me when she wants to go (which is often) and letting her decide whether she wants to carry a net. I’m amazed at how much she loves hiking – doing as many as 7 miles in rugged terrain with me in one day (she’s only 10 yrs old). While we’re out, I let her ask the questions and point out some of the more interesting things we see.

  2. TGIQ says:

    Wonderful…I wish my parents had given me a net…I had to use my bare hands!!!

    • I never had a net either as a kid – probably why I never really developed an interest in butterflies. I did get pretty good at catching things with my hands because of it.

  3. James C. Trager says:

    Did Mason also go?🙂

    • Chris wasn’t on this trip, and I think Mason might still be a bit young yet to tackle the Loess Hills.

      My older daughter, Mollie, lost all interest in bugs and the outdoors before she even turned 8. It’s funny, she showed so much early interest and then dropped it, while Madison was actually afraid of bugs when she was young but has come on to really enjoy them.

  4. jason says:

    Love it! She is her father’s daughter. And certainly in good hands.

  5. Katie says:

    This is wonderful! I fished my older brother’s net and insect collecting paraphernalia out of the trash can b/c he showed no interest in entomology, much to my father’s disappointment. Because I was a girl, I mainly got frilly dresses as gifts, instead of cool insect stuff. I still have some of that old equipment.

    • Thanks, Katie. I don’t believe in forcing girls to be girly – I like to show them everything and let them decide what they like. Madison is definitely the little tomboy!

  6. Susan B. says:

    I didn’t get interested in bugs until a few years ago when I realized my point-and-click camera had a pretty decent macro setting. Since then I’ve gotten good at creeping up close and photographing them, but I can only photograph the ones that will permit a large black camera lens within a couple inches. Maybe I should invest in a net as well so I can see some of the more shy buggies up close!

    • Hi Susan – I’ve been interested in insects my entire life, but it was a little point-and-shoot that got me into my current photography craze. I do spend a lot more time observing live insects now than I did when I was just a collector.

  7. peteryeeles says:

    Great stuff. My little boy loves coming out with us when we walk, and I love hearing the chatter that comes from the baby carrier backpack even if it means it’s harder to get down to ground level looking for insects. He has better eyes than I do too… and often spots flying insects well before I see them!

    Hopefully he will be keen to come out with me when older, as your daughter does.

    • It’s fun when they show an interest in the the things we like. However, they are their own people – you just never know what they’ll end up liking as they get older. Part of the joy, I guess.

  8. Snail says:

    That’s fantastic! Takes me back to my younger years. (And that’s a long journey!)

    • I hear you (about the looong journey). I started around age 9 and was a collector from the start – no catch and release for me. We were poor, so I lined a metal box that one of my toys came in with cardboard for a collection box, used a peanut butter jar with alcohol soaked cotton balls for a killing jar (had more than a few bugs “wake up” after pinning them), pinned my insects with straight pins “borrowed” from my mom’s sewing kit, and labeled my specimens only with their common name (as determined from Zim and Cottam’s Golden Guide to Insects). Those were the days.

      • peteryeeles says:

        Do you still have the collection (or part of it)?

        • I wish – my boxes were not designed to protect fragile specimens, and they invariably got broken or attacked by dermestids. Besides, I was a kid – I didn’t really care about the collection itself, but rather the act of making it. My present collection has its beginnings with my Entomology 201 class during my Junior year of college in 1978.

    • p.s. and I never got to collect insects in places like the Loess Hills or White River Hills!

  9. Beau says:

    So neat… the boy has a “bug kit” that we took on a few hikes. A little klunky, but he loved the little tube with built in magnifying glass🙂 I had a beautiful collection once… think I lost it along with the girlfriend who shared it with me in college entomology🙂

  10. Beau says:

    Ha! Actually a fair question. As I’m sure you might relate, many of those critters had a special memory associated with them…places, times… of course spent with the very friend who helped collect them with me. Goodness I could write more about that… some day!

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