Where the Bug Walks have led

Several months ago I wrote on how the "Bug Walks" started. Today I would like to tell you a bit about how my interest in entomology has evolved. It has nothing to do with my profession as an astronomer, except perhaps that it provides me with some needed grounding.

My interest in dragonflies was kindled in my early 30's while I was on a bird-watching trip in Trinidad. It eventually led to the acquisition of a number of books from all over the world and membership in the British Dragonfly Society. It brought me into contact with a number of amateur entomologists, most of whom were butterfly collectors. These people showed me their favorite habitats but I remained a keen dragonfly enthusiast and promoter.

In order to lead the "Bug Walks" at the Center, I broadened my knowledge of dragonflies and to a lesser extent butterflies to include all groups of insects and added in spiders because of their prominence on the walks especially as the season progresses. All of this, combined with my desire to document the insects and spiders with photography, led to a presentation about the bugs around the Nature Center and more recently a new species list (Arthropods of the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge). In addition, public interest has led to Byline articles, writings which have helped me expand my knowledge of invertebrates, my methods of presentation, and my ideas about the wholeness of life and the lessons nature teaches.

On Barbara's recommendation, I was invited to speak to the naturalists at Torrey Pines and Blue Sky. In order to address their specific situations, I explored their areas and photographed a number of species that do not occur around the Center. This year I told members of the San Diego Astronomy Association about the insects and spiders that lived at their observing site near the border at Tierra del Sol. Afterwards, several people indicated that they wouldn't be cutting through the bushes between the sites at night anymore. While my slide collection is far from complete, I find that I now have enough slides from the desert, mountains, inland and coastal regions to present slide shows on the insects and spiders of San Diego county. I have been surprised at the differences between the areas and the similarities.

Recently, I have begun to explore the influence of insects on human life and culture. "Cultural entomology" is the term used to include some of these influences.

My hobby has brought me into contact with many people I might not have met, taken me places I might not have gone, made me think thoughts I might not have had, made me do things I might not have done, and helped me develop and improve my skills in a number of areas. I am grateful that I have had the time and the resources to pursue these studies.

Sometimes, time taken to reflect where we have been shows us a portion of the thread that is our life and how it is woven through the lives of others. Sometimes, it even helps give us some insight into where we are going. Sometimes.

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Ron Lyons (volunteer 1990-1999)
Chula Vista Nature Center, 1000 Gunpowder Point Drive, Chula Vista, CA 91910-1201