Aaron Schusteff Curator

Joined: Jan 16, 2018 Last Active: Dec 10, 2018

I'm an avid naturalist with a passionate interest in the California flora, which I've been studying since around 2001. My botanical posts (photos & commentary) can be accessed via the CalPhotos link below:


Through my botanical field activities I gradually became more & more fascinated by insects...and began posting on BugGuide, where I've been a contributing editor for a number of years:


There are a few entomo-groups I've become especially interested in over the years...

1) In Dec. 2013 I became fascinated with the genus Physocephala ("Thick-Headed Flies")...and more generally the subfamily Conopinae of the "thick-headed fly" family Conopidae. I began accumulating literature on the group, working to ID Physocephala posts on the BugGuide website, visiting museum collections...and generally studying the group intensively :-). Eventually I became an editor at BugGuide and worked on building up the "info pages" and other resources in order to help people identify members of subfamily Conopinae: usually attempting to explain identifications & diagnostic characters, clarify or illustrate obscure terms, provide links to the literature, and occasionally point out interesting natural history & taxonomy tid-bits. When I began only a few Physocephala posts were placed to species on BugGuide (and virtually no Physoconops were). At this point the vast majority of BugGuide Conopinae posts are placed to species, and all but one conopine taxa north of Mexico are represented there. (The missing species is Physoconops weemsi, from Florida!)

2) I've also worked extensively on the Timema pages at BugGuide. This is a fascinating genus, and the subject of much current research...much of it with an emphasis on molecular methods (e.g. in genetic & ecological aspects of speciation, the interplay of sexual and asexual/parthenogenetic aspects of evolution, etc.). But in terms of traditional taxomomy it is relatively under-documented, under-collected, and poorly understood! The iNaturalist community has helped augment the sightings in this very cryptic and under-sampled group...please consider helping expand our understanding by joining in the efforts of the Timema Discovery Project!!

3+) I'm actually a generalist at heart, and have worked on a number of other groups at BugGuide, especially various genera in Diptera, and a few in Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, and Lepidoptera...not to mention some favorites in Neuroptera! :-)

...and, of course, I'm still very much enamored with plants!

[A nascent interest in lichens provided my initial impetus for joining iNaturalist]

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