Since I was just a few years old and observed that bug-balls (roly-poly bugs) "only bounce ONE time", I have been interested in bugs. I had a very large collection of dead insects by the time I had completed elementary school. I also enjoyed watching and caring for live, captive bugs. I remember feeding 11 bumblebees to a flower crabspider, once. In fact, many of my childhood memories have some connection to my lifelong hobby. Yes, I even dream about bugs, regularly!
I caught Phasmid-fever around 1994, although I've had Diapheromera species- common American Walkingsticks- in my dried collection since childhood. My Grandma Sandy collected them for me in Brownsville, Texas and the first thing I'd want my grandparents to do when they rolled into town in the RV each summer, was show me the bugs they'd brought me! During high school and through my teens, I took a break from the hobby to pursue sports, dating, and other MUCH less interesting hobbies;-). There weren't any good books back then, or nearby exhibits to really help in understanding the scope and diversity of this one group of insects, but over the years I was still able to obtain 4 species of stick-insects from local pet shops. This was my reintroduction to the hobby!
Years later, when I "got online", I immediately became aware that my fascination with stick-insects was shared with others from around the world. As I met other experienced breeders, I quickly learned that this was more than just an interest for some people. I don't know when, exactly, the turning point was for me, but it wasn't long before I had quite an impressive collection (bordering on ridiculousness).
Before long, I'd managed to acquire many of the various species stick-insect available in the worldwide hobby. In 2001, I made my first trip to Arizona and this trip caused me to really expand my interests beyond phasmids as a group. Slowly, I evolved into a bug generalist and this broad fascination in everything large, small and in between continues to this day, ranging from tarantulas and scorpions to the smallest springtails found in my own backyard.
I feel that many people neglect to develop an appreciation for the amazing array of species that live in their local area. By breeding showy "pet" species, I'm able to help support the educator community out there that displays them to a growing public interest. It is my hope that visitors to these places will give their own backyard bugs a second look, having been exposed to some of the more aesthetically pleasing exotics featured in those displays at museums, etc.
I've been in the online hobby as long or longer than all the popular websites on the subject. With a few good friends, I work hard to supply items available nowhere else on the planet. I also put in long hours replying to emails or working on my various websites to answer the simplest questions that recur time and again. I love bugs and the people that take the time to be curious about them.
Many people I meet in daily life simply can't wrap their minds around my fascination with "bugs". They feel that bugs are dirty and creepy and certainly don't belong in homes. Each of these perspectives is valid in the sense that our culture supports them all. It is "American" to view bugs this way. It is cultural and it is a product of generations of profit-based advertising by pest control companies. Now, to be fair, many modern pest control companies work hard to promote an appreciation for non-pest insects, but the truth is their business does rely on propaganda-based fear to a great extent. In my own neighborhood, I receive a knock on my door at least twice a year from pest control applicators. They announce that they're spraying in the neighborhood on Thursday and since they'll already be in the area, they're running "a special". Asked what they are spraying for, they'll say spiders and boxelder bugs. They'll point to the webs in my yard and tell me they are hobo spiders. To make a long story short, they always leave with a bit of an education. It is hard for me to put into words how destructive I think their business is. So many good bugs die as a result of the blanket of death they lay down. Even their target bugs are not legitimately dangerous. Sure, boxelder bugs can be a bit annoying on the couple days they swarm, each summer. What is a summer, though, without blue sky, sunshine and, yes, boxelder bugs? They are otherwise harmless though to the maple tree in my backyard and certainly to human beings. The webs they're referring to are not hobo spiders, but a closely related, but larger, species that actually outcompetes the hobo spider for territory (that is, until some "well-meaning" executioner comes along and kills the good spiders for a buck or two). Besides, how many bites attributed to the hobo spider are actually confirmed hobo spider bites at all? How many are even spider bites? Anybody that sees a strange bump on their body ignorantly assumes it's a spider bite.
Bugs DO belong in homes! Visitors to my home, with even the slightest opening of mind are fascinated by the array of animals we keep. They are further surprised by my children's willingness to hold and talk about them. Yes, there are some parents that will not come into the house. These soccer moms are generally content to busy themselves and their kids in various ways. Their kids play video games all day after they rush through their homework. Though their children may find our bugs completely fascinating, if mom hasn't already brainwashed them into oblivion, moms generally win in the end because they are moms! Still, a child or two has been known to proclaim "this is the neatest house in the world"! I am compelled to agree.
Proceeds from sales through this website help support 3 online insect communities. I am very grateful to sponsor and manage the forums at Mantidforum.Net, Roachforum.com and Beetleforum.Net
Thank you for your curiosity. If you can appreciate insects, you will rarely experience a boring moment in life. Bugs are everywhere!