I’ve always loved the natural world, animal life specifically, “creepy-crawlies” particularly, and “bugs” most especially. Throughout my childhood you could often find me peering under logs and rocks, rooting around in sand at the beach, or exploring tidepools and unusual holes.
Unfortunately, despite my affinity for such activities, I also had crippling arachnophobia for the majority of my childhood, to the point where I would have regular night terrors of getting bitten by black widows or even worse, the dreaded brown recluse. Regrettably, because of this I largely avoided spiders and other bugs for many years, focusing more on reptiles (snakes especially), amphibians, fish, cacti, and succulents in various (casual) capacities.
However, my fascination of these spineless creatures occasionally overcame my rabid fear, and I did attempt to keep a variety of tarantulas found for sale at the local petshop, usually Avicularia of some kind that perished quite quickly in my care, or lack thereof.
Mercifully, by the age of twelve my arachnophobia miraculously disappeared. The same year my grandfather brought home a Grammostola porteri for me as a surprise gift.
Chastened by prior failures, I threw myself into researching the proper care for it (many thanks to Jon3800 from YouTube for setting me on the right path initially).
In the following years I slowly grew my collection of invertebrates, first starting with tarantulas, going to scorpions, centipedes, true spiders, millipedes, roaches, etc.
In the years following, my collection would go through seasons of growth, followed by periods of inactivity. Slowly, as my journey into studying these creatures became more serious, I brushed up against the scientific and conservation communities more and more, and learned of a very different perspective of the invertebrate-keeping community.
It did not take me long to learn of brow-boxing, a practice upon which almost the entirety of invertebrate-keeping is built on. Legality aside, the idea of various invertebrates being overcollected just to be “wasted” as trophy pets, as DOAs in convoluted shipping arrangements, or to languish in the care of those who have no idea what they have has slowly built a skepticism in me of the current state of the invertebrate-keeping community.
At the same time, my initial fascination with the scientific enterprise slowly bogged down with realizations of how understaffed, underfunded, and underprepared the vast majority of invertebrate research is. The fact that the field of isopodology is almost dead in the water despite a huge, thriving trade in unknown and unprotected species is a prime example of this to me.
My cynicism of both of the major fronts of invertebrate “study,” broadly-speaking, has been admittedly depressing at times. However, my love for invertebrates and the rest of creation has not faded, and I believe now that in creating more interface between the invertebrate-keeping, scientific, and conservation communities, the strengths of each can help amend the foibles of the others.
…which is a very abstract way of putting it. More concretely, in 2019 I started the Invertebrate Club of Southern California to unite invertebrate enthusiasts of all stripes together in community, with the goal of conserving invertebrates in both captivity and in the wild. Also in 2019, I helped to organize the first private import of Epiperipatus barbadensis to the USA, which eventually led to me getting involved in creating awareness of the plight of the Caversham Valley velvet worm.
I also helped to start The Millipede Enthusiast’s Database in 2020 in order to address a chronic lack of information regarding millipedes in captivity, a practice which historically has seen absolutely unacceptable amounts of needless death. This has since grown into a larger family of websites encompassing everything from isopods to vampire crabs.
Alongside The Mantis Menagerie I have helped to explore the options for amateur enthusiasts seeking to become permitted under USDA/APHIS regulations via the PPQ526 permitting system and containment facility registration for Congress-designated plant pests. This has grown into a collaboration with several other enthusiasts and citizen scientists, including Steven Barney, to work with APHIS to deregulate invertebrate groups that were wrongly blanket-banned under the Plant Protection Act.
Shot through all of this has been my goal to create more dialogue between professionals and amateurs in order to increase understanding across the board, raise the collective conscious of amateur enthusiasts, and mobilize invertebrate-lovers of all stripes to take a more proactive role in conservation through whatever means possible.
At the end of the day, my goal is to protect the invertebrates I love in whatever capacity may be necessary. This blog, which has been around since 2017, was initially a public journal of my collection, and has since metamorphosed into, well, a blog of my thoughts on the state of the invertebrate-keeping hobby, the various invertebrate-related “ologies,” and some journalism of them all. It is my hope that God’s awesome creation will not only be better-appreciated but also better-protected through my writings here.
If you want to contact me directly, email me at arthroverts @ gmail .com.
I am always happy to talk about invertebrates. Feel free to catch me on all major invertebrate forums and sites dedicated to invertebrates under the username Arthroverts.
I am a Christian, and am always interested in exploring how biodiversity research, taxonomy, phylogenetics, and conservation interfaces with what I believe; my passion for nature and conservation stems from my strong belief that as humans we are given great power, for good or ill, over how to steward the Earth.