MIIDGE: Massachusetts Invertebrate Interlude Days with Great Expectations's Journal

June 29, 2020

Final MIIDGE Wrap-up

Three days and three nights of peering under rocks, checking out bird poop in case it's really a moth, yawning at 3 AM while standing watch at the lights, and splashing through rivers after dragonflies. Boy, we had fun, didn't we? And now, a week later, after uploading and BugGuiding and flipping through field guides, the glorious numbers stand at 3,992 observations of 1,299 species made by 431 observers and confirmed/corrected/edited by 272 identifiers.

While I am sorely tempted to check my photos one more time in search of one more species, 1,299 species is almost six times the number of species observed in the same time period last year. 3,992 observations is eight and a half times the number of observations as last year. Tom Murray alone found an average of well over one hundred species a day! We did good!

And we'll do even better next year! The Athol Bird and Nature Club is pleased to announce that MIIDGE will return in 2021. With luck (and a lot of mask-wearing), maybe we'll even have an in-person Moth Ball again.

Thanks, everyone!

Dave Small and Lynn Harper

Posted on June 29, 2020 12:20 by lynnharper lynnharper | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 22, 2020

Monday Morning, and MIIDGE is Over (Almost)

Our glorious invertebrate interlude is over, and while I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep tonight, I feel a little sad not to be exploring new places and finding new bugs today. As of about 9:30 Monday morning, 390 observers have submitted 3,465 observations of 1,182 species. Tom Murray is in the lead for both species and observation, by far, with 409 observations of 299 species - and I bet he's not yet done uploading last night's observations. Even more astonishing, almost all of those observations were made at the moth lights at his house; he stayed up almost all night every night watching what came.

But our work here is not done - let's do our best to confirm observations and push every observation done to species level or as far as it can go.

Dave and I will be back next Monday with the final wrap-up of this escapade, but thank you all for playing along - it's been grand!

---Lynn Harper

Posted on June 22, 2020 13:47 by lynnharper lynnharper | 1 comment | Leave a comment

June 21, 2020

I Was Kidding When I Said Maybe We Can Hit 1000 Species!

And yet here we are, at 1,009 species as of 4:50 PM on the 21st, with seven hours to go. This is almost five times the number of species observed in the same three days last year! Frankly, I am astonished and thrilled - and I think Dave Small is, too.

Since there are so many observations already, with probably a few hundred left to be uploaded, we're going to say that the uploading and confirmation period for this interlude extends through next Sunday, the 28th. All observations must be made by midnight EDT tonight, but after that, please continue uploading till you're done.

Most importantly, please help confirm other observers' identifications. In fact, if you happen to know an expert in robber flies or stonefly exuviae or little black beetles, feel free to point them toward the unconfirmed observations here. We'll make another post with the numbers early Monday morning, but the final wrap-up summary will come after the 28th.

Thank you, everyone, I've had a ball this weekend and we hope you have, too!

--- Lynn Harper

Posted on June 21, 2020 20:59 by lynnharper lynnharper | 3 comments | Leave a comment

June 20, 2020

Wow, We're Doing Great! And This is Just the First Day!

As I write this, just before 8:30 PM on Friday, not even 24 hours into MIIDGE, we have already utterly SMASHED last year's numbers for this time period. Currently, we're at 573 observations and 353 species, well beyond last year's 459 observations and 221 species for all three days! One hundred and thirteen observers have contributed, and Tom Murray is in the lead for both observations and number of species.

Can we hit 500 species? Maybe 750? Dare I suggest 1000? Stay tuned and we'll all find out!

ETA at 7 AM on the 20th: We are at 499 species. I repeat: WOW!

---Lynn Harper

Posted on June 20, 2020 00:30 by lynnharper lynnharper | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 14, 2020

4.5 Days till MIIDGE!

As I write this, it's only four and a half days till MIIDGE! You all have mapped out your MIIDGE days, yes? Friday: midnight to dawn - moths; dawn to the heat of the day - wandering through fields and forests; about 2 PM to 5 PM - cooling off in the nearest waterbody while investigating odes, crayfish, and larval caddisflies; 5 PM - ice cream, followed shortly by real food and a beverage of your choice accompanying uploading all your observations to iNaturalist; repeat for Saturday and Sunday. [What, you're not doing this already???] Cram in some confirmations while you're waiting for batteries to recharge, too, come to think of it.

Goals, for those who are a bit competitive: Last year from June 19th to 21st in Massachusetts, iNaturalist observers made 459 observations of about 221 invertebrate species, assuming I've used the iNat filters correctly. I think we can easily beat that this year, if the weather's decent, and if it rains hard all three days, well, we need the rain. What's your guess on how many invert species could possibly be found in three days in late June in Massachusetts? Thousands, I suspect, but we need the data to know for sure.

Moth webinar: Dave Small is giving a Zoom webinar Wednesday, June 17th, starting at 7 PM EDT om an Introduction to Moth Watching: Welcome to the Dark Side. Please register in advance for this, so Dave has an idea of attendance, at this link: https://eur05.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fus02web.zoom.us%2Fwebinar%2Fregister%2FWN_uvBZwY_RSj6H63dBfK-cDw&data=02%7C01%7C%7Ce75b354ff7b740b46c3a08d80ee42486%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637275720323066817&sdata=qCFKtR8MQ%2FhCv3lq4MKxIyw%2Bkq3%2Ffvi7HQKAS%2Fxsj1Q%3D&reserved=0 Dave always gives a great talk and I'm looking forward to learning a lot.

I hope you enjoy yourselves!

Lynn Harper

Posted on June 14, 2020 13:57 by lynnharper lynnharper | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 07, 2020

Resources for MIIDGE

It’s two weeks till MIIDGE time! We thought we’d lead up to these 72 hours of concentration on the spineless animals among us by listing some of the resources you can use to identify and learn about invertebrates. You probably know even more books, websites, and videos than we’ve listed here; if you comment on this post with more resources, we’ll add them to this list.

First off, let’s call out three great generalist resources:

  • iNaturalist itself. Have you explored the taxa pages on iNat yet? Click on the More button at the top, then on Taxa Info, to bring you to the landing page for information on all taxa covered by iNaturalist. Or filter the maps for, say, sawflies in Massachusetts, so you can look at what other observers have found (21 Research-Grade Typical Sawfly species, in case you’re interested).
  • Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney’s book, Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates: A Guide to North American Species, is utterly fascinating and a must-have for all invert naturalists (not to mention that Charley is a member of this project!).
  • Speaking of project members, you also need Tom Murray’s Insects of New England & New York. “Need” is the right word; this field guide has photos of over 1250 species in our region.

The rest of these resources we’re going to organize by taxonomic group and list quite briefly, without complete bibliographic information, just so we can cram this all in. Links are provided only for websites.

Multiple Taxa

  • Borror, Donald J., and Richard E. White. A Field Guide to Insects: America North of Mexico.
  • Eaton, Eric R., and Kenn Kaufman. Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America.
  • Kenney, Leo P., and Matthew R. Burne. A Field Guide to the Animals of Vernal Pools.
  • Klots, Elsie B. The New Field Book of Freshwater Life.
  • BugGuide: https://bugguide.net/node/view/15740


  • Beadle, David, and Seabrooke Leckie. Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America.
  • Brock, Jim P., and Kenn Kaufmann. Butterflies of North America.
  • Wagner, David L. Caterpillars of Eastern North America.
  • Moth Photographers Group: https://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/


  • Lam, Ed. Damselflies of the Northeast.
  • Nikula, Blair, Jennifer L. Ryan, and Matthew R. Burne. A Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Massachusetts, 2nd ed.
  • Odonata Central: https://www.odonatacentral.org/#/


  • Pearson, David L., C. Barry Knisley, and Charles J. Kazilek. A Field Guide to the Tiger Beetles of the United States and Canada.
  • White, Richard E. A Field Guide to the Beetles of North America.


  • Ellison, Aaron M., et al. A Field Guide to the Ants of New England.

Freshwater Mussels

  • Nadeau, Ethan. Freshwater Mussels and the Connecticut River Watershed.

Posted on June 07, 2020 13:18 by lynnharper lynnharper | 0 comments | Leave a comment