Trivia Night (Insects)

Michelle and I enjoy trivia, as it stimulates the mind.  We go with our friends Dan and Patti Betz, and often with the Chaisson’s and Weaver’s too.  It’s a nice way to sustain friendships and break-up the work week with an evening out, and have a few beers.  We usually play at our home town bar, the River Hill Grill, or a few other locations, on a Tuesday or Thursday night.  We have generally found that it is important to have a younger person on the team, to be able to better answer a range of questions.  Our son Mark is usually a ringer, when we can get him to attend.

Now for something entirely different.  The Robinson Nature Center on Cedar Lane, just a few miles from our home, is offering a series of four trivia night socials (fund raisers), with the first one held on Thursday, October 2, 2014.  Well, we just had to go!

The program theme was “Bugs and the Big Picture.”  Our host was “The Bug Guy” – aka Michael Raupp, PhD. – Professor of Entomology and Extension Specialist at The University of Maryland.  Dr. Raupp is a frequent guest bug expert for Good Morning America, NPR, and other news outlets.  He has appeared on BBC, CNN, National Geographic Ultimate Explorer, The Dr. Oz Show, Tyra Banks, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, among others.  Dr. Raupp’s research at UMD focuses on finding ways by which plants escape attack from insects with a goal of creating sustainable landscape systems with minimal dependence on synthetic pesticides.  Mike also writes the Bug of the Week website ( and has done so for more than a decade. To find out more about his research, see



The beer on tap was delicious (a hint of basal) and I felt like I was in my undergraduate entomology class in Symonds Hall at the University of Maryland, but better.  The 2 1/2 hour interactive PowerPoint presentation, with multiple choice answers was quite educational and entertaining.


A few local entomology heavyweights were in attendance including representatives from the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Maryland Department of Agriculture and University of Maryland, Extension Service.


Anyone willing to put on an insect costume was awarded one “mulligan” point to be used if their team could not agree to the best possible answer to a question, and yes we had eight volunteers, including my wife Michelle (the bumble bee on the left).  Way to take one for the team!  Dr. Raupp is next to her in the white, insect tee-shirt.


Fun was had by all, and I learned a lot.  I have a new found respect for the three local breeds of praying mantis, as they are a biological indicator of relative health.  Our team came in second place!  We look forward to the upcoming November Trivia Night.

On Thursday, November 6 the second trivia night theme will be “Streams and Such.”  The guest host will be Dan Boward, who has a long career working on water quality issues in Maryland.  Dan began his career as an environmental biologist assessing the aquatic life in streams to determine water quality and helping shape water quality standards and criteria in Maryland.  In 2000, he helped found the Maryland Stream Waders Program – one of the Country’s premier statewide volunteer monitoring efforts.  He currently serves as the Executive Secretary of the Maryland Water Monitoring Council.  Dan has a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Maryland College Park and a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins University.  In addition to his work with DNR, he teaches part time in graduate programs at Johns Hopkins University and Towson University.  To read more about the Stream Waders program, see