Who is Mike?


Me on the Hunt. Thailand 2003. (Photo by R.W. Sites)

    Mike is a twenty something year old kid who grew up in Clinton Missouri. Technically the homestead is situated on the prairie, but the majority of our farm is wooded- secondary oak, hickory, with evidence of what once was a beautiful oak savanna (now cut) on an adjoining neighbors property.

    I was fairly successful in high school and got a scholarship to Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg where I majored in Biology and Chemistry. The first insect group I started researching was dragonflies (Odonata). I got a grant and spent a summer wandering around Missouri collecting dragonflies, and seeking populations of a rare MO dragon- Tachopteryx thoreyi, the Grey Petaltail. These are only found in fens, and the larvae are very rarely collected. However, as I am expert at playing in mud (from extensive training I underwent as a small child), I知 one of the few people anywhere that can regularly collect T. thoreyi larvae!

    Additionally as an undergrad I was able to finagle my way into three great trips. The first was to Jamaica for a Marine Biology course at the Hofstra University Marine Laboratory- representing the first time I ever swam in an ocean. Second was Hawaii for a brief internship with Pacific Whale Foundation researching Humpback Whales (those things are huge!! Big as a whale!). And the third was to Belize for a Marine Biology course (some classes you just have to take twice!).

    After I graduated I went to the University of Missouri to research Mayflies, Stoneflies, and Caddisflies of Missouri state parks. These bugs can be very useful when studying water quality and monitoring for disturbances of springs, streams, and rivers. Additionally they make up a substantial portion of the diet of many fishes. I sampled 15 state parks all over Missouri and collected and identified 44,592 specimens representing 214 species, more than half of all the mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies known from the entire state! MU should post my thesis for all to see and I値l provide a link to that when it becomes available. Its not the funnest reading, BUT there are 40 pages of color plates in the back with some really awesome pictures of the bugs I collected!

    Additionally, while working on my masters, I also got to go to Thailand for two months to revisit a former passion and collect dragonflies. A friend and I traveled nearly the entire length of the country. I collected 1515 adult specimens and was able to identify 98 species, and two additional species I collected are new to science! Lots of the pictures presented herein are of those travels.

    That very same summer I also went to a conference on insects known as Neuroptera and traveled around the desert southwest for two weeks, blacklight trapping every night. I brought home buckets of bugs!

    Now I知 in Baton Rouge at Louisiana State University pursuing a Ph.D. I hope to work on insects that live in rotting logs (kind of like forensic entomology, only instead of animals, I値l be studying tree corpses!).

    I love books, especially technical manuals concerning insect ID. To me books are some what magical. You don稚 ever really own one, not a good one. You just get to keep it a while, and when you die, it gets passed along. In fact, a number of the references I have were passed to me from retiring professors, or liberated from the collection of someone who痴 kicked the bucket.

    So I知 doing this to raise money to buy books. Buy some pictures, and I値l order me a book and not go hungry in the process!