Lifelong learning keeps things interesting and while I love being able to find information at my fingertips through the internet, nothing beats the discoveries that can be found in an afternoon walk if one is willing to slow down enough to see them.
I take a lot of photos many of which you never see, but I thought you might enjoy hearing how my observation and impromptu photo session of a Violet Oil Beetle turned me a citizen scientist. It seems these beauties are in serious decline in the UK along with three other varieties of oil beetles, a discovery I made when I went online looking for information to help me identify the hungry bug below.
I told John that I was going to send my photographs along with other requested data to Buglife, a conservation group that uses the information to track the distribution of oil beetles in the UK and I added that the site referred to people (like me) as “Citizen Scientists.” I smiled as I said this feeling a bit grand about my little bug photos thinking how they might be helpful in tracking the declining numbers of oil beetles … and I may have even mumbled the words, “citizen scientist” under my breath before hearing John say, “Do you get a badge for that?”
He was of course teasing me ever so sightly and referring to scout merit badges but I didn’t get that until later. I pictured instead a freckled-faced girl in shorts wearing a secret decoder ring from a cereal box with a plastic badge pinned to her t-shirt with the words, “Citizen Scientist” on it.
His badge comment reminded me a happier part of my childhood where decoder rings really felt magical and an afternoon spent outside could be an opportunity for daring adventures and bold discoveries.
Pausing for a few grass munching beetle photographs led me to some fascinating research on oil beetles and their special relationship with bees. One of them likes to treat the other like a taxi service and an all you can eat food bar. You can find out which one by clicking on Buglife.