Here is an article from a local newspaper, the Sunshine Coast Daily, Saturday, 07 July, 2007. Below that are links to research papers I was involved in with the help of Dr. Trevor J. Hawkeswood, a biologist and author. Hopefully, there will be more to come.
If Tewantin creepy-crawly enthusiast Nick Monaghan could have a bug named after him, it would be something “nasty and hard to kill”.
“Or a big colourful beetle would be good,” he said.
Like many five-year-old kids, Nick had a fascination with spiders, ants, bugs and beetles. That obsession carried on to his adult years.
So much so, he dropped out of a menial accounting job in Melbourne and began photographing bugs in national parks around the Sunshine Coast.
So far, he has taken more than 2000 photos of 1000 species – many of them unclassified.
With no formal education in science or photography, his work has caught the attention of scholars in Indonesia, New Zealand and Sydney.
“I’m not a bug-hugger,” he explained. “I like photography. I like taking photos of bugs. But I honestly never expected to be taken seriously by anyone in the recognised science field.”
Last December, Nick, 31, launched a website as a fun project. He didn’t expect it to become an important resource for entomologists.
Two months later he was contacted by a Sydney biologist, who proclaimed he had discovered several unidentified insect species.
The researcher wrote an entire academic paper based on an unusual mating ritual of the longicorn beetle, which, as far as Nick knows, has only been seen by him.
And if you think it’s creepy looking at bugs all day, consider this; “Without bugs, the eco-system would collapse and that would be it. They are propping up the world,” Nick said.
As a kid, Nick was a loner. He’d spend hours in the backyard hunting for insects and was always bringing them home to “surprise” his horrified mother.
“Once or twice they got out and ran riot. Mum and Dad just came to expect that,” he chuckled.
Three years ago, he invested in an expensive camera to take on his regular bug hunting trips.
“Sometimes I go for five or six hours at a time,” he said. “My favourite spot is Noosa National Park. I have a few secret places I go to that no-one knows about and I’m not going to go spreading the word.”
Nick has been bitten by just about every ant that crawls, but has managed to avoid spider bites. He likes spiders – there are times when he thinks they have a bit of personality.
“Generally bugs don’t have personalities, their sole purpose is to create another generation,” he said.
“Jumping spiders do. Their heads can move independently to their body and they’ll look right at you when you’re taking a photo. Most bugs just trudge along and half of them wouldn’t even know I’m there.”
Before he took photos of little nasties, Nick was an amateur wedding photographer.
“I used to do weddings years ago but gave it up because I’m not overly fond of photographing people.
“People have camera faces, bugs don’t. Bugs are natural no matter what.”
Links to research papers published in co-operation with Dr. Trevor J. Hawkeswood (requires Acrobat Reader):