Is it just me or will 2009 go down as the year Insects finally went mainstream? It appears to me that there is a huge boom in interest in Butterflies, Moths, Dragonflies and Beetles this year or is it just my reading material?
Most of the bird blogs I visit around this fair isle seem to have bolted on at least a few pics and the odd Fritillary even on Birdforum there's otherwise died in the wool birders who wouldn't bat an eye at a pterostigma are racking up the sightings and getting to grips with the complexities of Zygoptera ID so what's going on?
There are several events happening at the same time here in my view, a convergence of factors driving a cultural change in the niche nature market (that's us).
First of all you have this amazing platform in Blogger for amateur naturalists who have wandered around for many years scribbling notes and rattling off sketches to display their passion and expertise for us all to see and benefit from, people like Stewart, Steve & Dean.
Other birders and like minded individuals who may not blog are reading and learning and being inspired to get out there and find and document for themselves. it's opening up whole new areas of interest for many.
Add to this the advances in digital photography that have allowed access to equipment previously only the playthings of the professional and the quality & quantity of images being published has increased dramatically.
Companies like Birdguides not slow to spot a trend have begun to diversify into ID software and guides in these areas. Whilst Ipods are still a year or two away from following on from mobile phones in terms of volume, they will eventually and the demand for 'apps' like Birdguides superb Butterfly ID Guide will shoot up.
At the same time traditional players in the nature market such as Collins should be sitting up and taking notice, they may have just published the Collins Wildflower Guide but if they want to ride the wave of interest in insects that seems to be building then their next project should write itself. A Collins guide to British Insects or Moths or Odonata or all three achieving the same high standards as their previous offerings would be superb.
The final nudge this year toward Insects becoming the next Birds has been that 2009 seems to be one of the best Insect Years for a long time judging by the increasing amount of rare sightings and records. All of this should lay the foundations for a new surge in popularity in coming years. Even tour companies should be able to get in on the act with "Macro Tours" perhaps becoming a new add on. Is next year's top holiday destination set to become a damp pond in Durham?