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Damselflies on the Ceiling of Your Mind

It's not all about the aphid shit, thank you very much

By Wayne Alan Brenner, 10:14AM, Mon. Aug. 13, 2012

Paired wings, pretty things.
Paired wings, pretty things.

Who is John Abbott?

John C. Abbott is the Curator of Entomology for the Texas Natural Science Center at UT Austin.

I met him while attending UT's Insecta Fiesta display of live arthropods & more this past April, but Iater lost the miniature digital recorder I'd used to document the brief conversation we had about the event and insects in general.

(Like mayflies, sometimes, these tiny devices flitting through the maelstrom of an overclocked life.)

What I didn't lose, though, is the knowledge that Abbott is also the author of Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-Central United States, published by Princeton University Press back in 2005, and the author of 2011's Damselflies of Texas: A Field Guide, published by Austin's own UT Press and illustrated by the multitalented Barrett Anthony Klein.

Difficult to lose that knowledge with the latter book sitting here on my desk, its vivid cover riveting vision with color and clarity. Difficult to not appreciate the interior of the book, as well – such an excellent guide to the sub-order Zygoptera – especially when you know that even people who are squeamish around bugs might stop to admire these delicate & elegant creatures with scarcely a feeling of ew in their hominid minds.

(You want bugs that will make you go ew? You feel like learning a thing or two about creatures that will creep you out, destroy a country's crops, and maybe even personally fuck you up bigtime? Then you want to check out Amy Stewart's excellent Wicked Bugs, which we've reviewed here.)

So we're mentioning Abbott's Klein-illustrated Damselflies book by way of recommendation, as it's a fine volume for casual reading and a handy reference work. Handy for this year in Austin in particular – when a relatively mild summer and decent amount of rain has resulted in a burgeoning of many insect species, not just those that coat our cars with their excreta or are so beautiful only Rene Lalique and his ilk have been able to do them justice in artifice.

(And the Insecta Fiesta's coming up again next year, please note: On Saturday, April 20th.)



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