What we talk about when we talk about arthropods

13 June 2013

you already saw these, and anyway the data are bit stale, and maybe the methodology is problematic but anyway I’ll put them here and forestall for the time being


the commentary about the fluidity (and pointlessness) of folk taxonomies and the just so of how the éscrevisse became a fish and how the fish became a dad

pngand the depauperate isopod fauna of the upper plains states (thanks to the Laurentide ice sheet and a lingering glacial hang-over? [I think I wish Vaux and Golder had asked about earthworms])


which reminds me I’ve never seen good explanation for the absence of lampyrids west of the Rockies [?] and why should lightning bug have such strong currency in the core of their North American range and firefly be such an outsiderism


and wow have we finally found the exception to the rule that your “bugs” aren’t bugs? News to me and  “water strider,” OK fine, but my favored childhood variant “water skeeter” doesn’t even poll ?!?!?1?!

As much as we use different words to talk about the same thing, it seems that we are just as likely to be using the same words to talk about different things see: “backstrider” “doodlebug” “potato bug” and on, and on, and

Screen shot 2013-06-12 at 11.29.37 PM

I mean. So you think the small grey terrestrial crustaceans that roll up in a ball are …

um centipedes. Dude did you even try counting their legs.

and don’t even get me started on nearly literal bugbear that is good old “daddy longlegs” except to note the sparse college town pockets that use “harvestmen” to call their opiliones. NERDS!

I think it was George Bernard Shaw that said, we are one country separated by a series of common misunderstandings about small animals with exoskeletons and jointed appendages and an imprecise and a wildly inconsistent vernacular applied to diagnose the same.

Or something like that.

3 Responses to “What we talk about when we talk about arthropods”

  1. Neil Says:

    Re: lampyrids west of the Rockies, I guess I mean “paucity” I know the score. Stop hating on me in the comments, brohan.

  2. I’m going to start calling daddy longlegs “yeomen.”
    The absence of fireflies is one of the only bad things about California!

  3. Thanks for posting, I enjoyed reading about that.

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