Smithsonian entomologist Gary Hevel is the only scientist to have attended every one of the ten annual BioBlitzes organized by the National Park Service and the National Geographic Society in the run up to this year’s NPS centennial.
As he did for the previous BioBlitzes, he brought with him thousands of mounted insect specimens he collected in his backyard in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Over the years, at least 20,000 BioBlitz visitors have viewed the Hevel bug collection. “If they’re interested, I tell them they don’t have to collect actual specimens themselves, if they don’t wish to do that. They can learn just as much by photographing or illustrating them,” he says.
For the 2016 National Parks BioBlitz, Hevel went out at dusk to look for bugs in the Great Falls National Park on the Potomac River, where he managed to collect around 120 specimens. The next day he could be found on the National Mall, in the BioBlitz “Science at Work” tent, studying the fresh specimens under a microscope and preparing them to be photographed.
Hevel will eventually turn over the 4,000 species he collected in his backyard to the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History. But until then he continues to collect specimens where he lives in Maryland, and where he is still finding species he has never seen there before.
David Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.
He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.
Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship.