Changing Planet

Maryland Backyard Yields Thousands of Species of Bugs


Photo of Julie Fortin and Gary Hevel by David Braun

Gary Hevel has an obsession with the bugs in his Maryland backyard. The harder he looks, the more species he finds.

So far he has collected more than 4,000 species of beetles, moths, butterflies, and more. And all these tiny animals abound on two acres in Silver Spring, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.

Hevel, who works for the department of entomology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, has been something of a star at the National Geographic/National Park Service bioblitz, being held this year in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Students crowd his table in the scientists tent to admire hundreds of insects he has mounted for display.

Hevel talks about his collection in this video:

Video by David Braun

Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (

Social Media