Blog ads for entomologists?

In the wake of the Scienceblogs fiasco I have been thinking about the conundrum faced by bug bloggers who decide to offset the costs of their hobby by selling ad space. I’ve noticed a pattern.

All- not just some- but ALL the bug blogs that are supported by advertising serve those godawful Terminex ones. You know the ones I’m talking about, with the scurrying roaches and the scare quotes about Salmonella. It’s as if Terminex decided to take half their PR budget and buy up the blogosphere.

It doesn’t matter if every blog post is about the beauty and wonder of insects, and how each is a splendid marvel of nature. It doesn’t matter if the readership is like-minded buggy folk who cringe at the very thought of pesticides. Terminex will plaster a scare ad across the top.

There is a valid role in our society for pest control companies. It just happens to fill 10% of the space the current industry inhabits. The rest is snake-oil salesmen scaring homeowners into needlessly throwing money at them for imaginary problems. While I do know some excellent pest control people, much of the business- and especially the large internationals- is populated by the ignorant, the money-grubbing, and the ethically-challenged.

Judging from the current blog ads, it seems bug bloggers don’t have a choice. If you run ads, you get Terminex. Surely there must be other companies whose products intersect with an entomologically-literate readership.

[editor’s note: we are not about to start serving ads here at Myrmecos. This is merely an observation stemming from what we’ve seen on other blogs.]

15 thoughts on “Blog ads for entomologists?”

  1. internet tough guy

    You should be HAPPY about the Terminex ads. They’re throwing their money away! Corporations exist to produce profit for their owners (shareholders). They are willfully ignorant because knowledge for its own sake is a waste of resources (in financial terms). Academia is such a DRAIN of money that in the rare instance it produces something valuable, it is rationalized as its justification for existence and vicious squabbles about the ownership of this resource ensue. Ethics have no entry on an income statement and money-grubbing (or resource-grabbing) is the point of all existence (gene replication). Why cater to entos? Those destitute hippies have no money anyway. What are you gonna do, sell yoga mats and wheatgrass? hahaha

    1. I understand that sometimes research like this may seem like it gets out of hand. But so did research on the reproduction of the screwworm fly, which has allowed for the eradication of this major livestock killer from the U.S. and Mexico. Now tell me that that was entirely worthless. Studying ants isn’t some hobby whose only benefit is to entertain a closely knit circle of academics. The societies that ants and other social insects maintain have inspired philosophers like Aristotle, who even then realized that human societies run on greed rather than altruism. Even today, the study of complex systems like these, while on the outside may seem overly ‘elitist’ and too obscure to implement in the real world, can improve that selfish society you deem too good for knowledge. Here’s a link below if you actually care to learn:

      http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/07/swarms/miller-text

      Notice that I haven’t made any personal attacks on you yet; it’s because little devilish imps and urchins like you need to be educated as much as spanked. It’s anti-intellectuals like you who impede progress. If we’re the hippies selling yoga mats, at least we know what we want to do with our lives, unlike you hicks baling hay and milking cows in your little sod houses in Texas.

  2. Thiago Sanches

    Sorry for my low-content post, but…the “internet tough guy” is only a fake, right?

    Academia sure is a great investment, like most of people already know. A lot of research envolving pest control are made worlwide. Much more than taxonomy, I guess.

    And I tought the main purpose of corporations was to serve population with a variety of goods. Was I wrong?

    Oh, by the way…love your blog Alex.

  3. And appropriately, there is a Terminix ad (ads by Google) right below your post. I’m surprised you haven’t been directly approached by these guys. Our entomology department website has been a frequent target of advertising executives for both Terminix and Orkin. In fact, I got an email just this week from a rep asking me to link from our department page to some Orkin advertising material.

  4. I guess we all already know about Bioquip, so no point in them advertising with us. What about natural history publishers or open-enrollment field courses? Nature tour operators?

    TBH I’m surprised you aren’t running ads from lens manufacturers already. 😀

    1. I was hoping someone would buy me one of those jumpsuits with all the corporate sponsor logos on them. A suit with Bioquip patches on it would look great out in the field.

  5. You should have ads, but make sure that your metadata has the keywords “pron”, “viagra” and “money” a lot. Then you can trick the ad servers into putting interesting ads that will generate you some income…

  6. dragonflywoman

    Love the post Alex! I wouldn’t be able to bear the thought of having Terminix ads on my blog and I’m glad to hear you have some of the same opinions on the matter. Apart from the same points you made about bug killers on blogs by people who love insects, I really hate the big pest control companies for personal reasons. A Terminix rep went to my dad’s house to check out an ant problem he was having a few years back and I happened to be there when he showed up. The rep told my dad they were termites (which they weren’t) and then all but told me I was stupid for not knowing that ALL termites are white and have wings, regardless of their stage of development and the species. He pulled out a terribly illustrated drawing of a Reticulotermes adult to illustrate his point like it was the only type of termite that existed – as far as I could tell, he actually thought it WAS the only type of termite! I was so angry he was talking down to me we got into a huge argument. Seriously? This is their “expert?” And he argued – we were essentially screaming at each other – with an entomologist? One with a labmate and an advisor who’ve both studied drywood and other termites? If they can’t train their people better than that, I have absolutely no faith in their services. Thus, I will never have a Terminix ad on my blog. Just had to share.

    1. I’ve heard the employee turnover at Orkin & Terminex is huge and they train their new employees to lie about how long they’ve been on the job.

      If the general public weren’t scientifically illiterate they wouldn’t be able to get away with it.

    2. He argued with _you_! Gosh, the temerity of it. Didn’t he know who you were? Anyone would think he was paid on commission and had a family to feed.

      He’s not their expert- he’s their sales guy. And a poorly trained one at that, but why take him to task? If you truly cared about what he was saying you could have advised your father not to go ahead with the treatment and contacted the guy’s manager and technical department with a rational breakdown of what happened and what was wrong with his approach. The result might be the guy gets some (re)training and learns something. All he learned by the way you actually handled it was that you act like an elitist when confronted with someone less informed than yourself.

      It’s really easy to belittle the guy’s efforts- it’s much harder to change his ways in a constructive fashion.

      Big pest control companies employ entomologists, and golly gosh we have Ph.D.s and M.Sc.s and know the implications of the work our companies conduct. And ethically we juggle shareholders with corporate responsibility and education whilst filling a market need. Anyone can use the internet. Anyone can find out the implications of pests and everyone has their own levels of tollerance to them.

      Just doing our jobs. Try and walk a mile in our shoes before taking the moral high ground. It’s better for everyone.

  7. I think that ads which might actually get clicked on from your blog would probably be from bee-keeping supply companies, photography equipment manufacturers and retailers, publishers of science-related books and magazines, and general outdoor gear suppliers. Either these companies aren’t advertising on blogs or they aren’t picking keywords which would link them with the bug blogs you read.

  8. Regarding the choice or lack thereof in what ads show up on a blog: if you are dealing with one of the more easily-implemented systems like “google adwords”, you pretty much have to take what is being offered. The sad thing is, the extermination companies are the ones who have the most dollars to advertise with. Bioquip, not so much, and bee-keeping supply companies and science publishers aren’t really known for their deep pockets either. Although, even so, I do get a non-trivial number of ads for “insect hobbyist” sites – “raise your own butterflies” sorts of things.

    I could forgo the ads, but as it is my little hobby is, if not exactly profitable, at least not a dead loss. The ads cover my hosting costs (which come to a couple of hundred dollars a year) plus a bit for minor blog-related purchases. So, if I end up in an economic situation where money is tight, at least the blog won’t have to be one of the things that goes on the chopping block to save money.

    Sometimes the ads are annoying, but as long as they have to pay for the privilege to be annoying, I guess I can live with it.

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