TROUBLE IN THAILAND, or buyers in Bangkok BEWARE!!!

The following warning about a dealer in Thailand is not just a tale about how I was duped, but to help keep others from falling prey to the same criminals.

In the middle of August (2010), I found a link to a dealer advertising buprestids from PNG with prices that turned out to be too good to be true. A quick reply to my request for a species and price list arrived and the dealing began. I selected the species and the number of specimens, paid the price and waited. At first I was told to send the money to the dealer’s wife in Thailand, but a day later, after I had sent it, I was told his wife was ill and couldn’t pick it up, so would I change the pickup name to his daughter, which I did. The next day I received messages from the dealer and a woman in Cameroun asking me to pay for “refundable insurance” which I was promised would be repaid once the parcel was delivered to me. I refused as it was already starting to seem fishy. After a number of excuses, the dealer told me that he would pay to have the shipment returned and then would find another shipping company. Two days later he asked me to pay for the shipment via EMS and asked me to send the payment not to him, but this time to the EMS agent in Bangkok. So this I did, since we never had agreed on who would pay the shipping. In the meantime I was being told that his friends were returning from PNG and might have additional specimens if I was interested. And he hoped that we could do much business in the future. But then after I paid the shipping charge, he told me that he had gotten that money from the EMS agent so that he could buy the extra specimens from his friends or else they would have sold them to someone else. He would make this up to me by including specimens from Malaysia, but could I pay him for the shipping again and he would send the parcel. This resulted in several days of a heated dispute, but stupid me, I wore out and sent the shipping money again, and again to the EMS agent. Then after two days the shipping agent told me that the parcel had been sent to London by mistake and was held in customs because the shipping documents and the wildlife permits were not correct. I needed to pay a fee to obtain a wildlife permit and get the shipping documents corrected so that all matched to clear both British and U.S. Customs. I refused, saying that it was the dealer’s problem to arrange such documentation and any change to Thai laws was their problem to know about and adapt to. Several further days of dispute, no involvement from the dealer who was reportedly gone to the forest to collect and couldn’t be contacted. As I continued to refuse to send anymore money, I was threatened by the EMS agent who would turn in the dealer to Thai authorities and report me to the FBI alleging that we were smuggling ivory out of Thailand and into the U.S. When I told him that I would welcome a visit from the FBI, he changed tactics and tried to pressure me by saying that if I didn’t pay to resolve the permits and documents that the London EMS office would just destroy the parcel and all of the specimens. I refused and reminded the agent and anyone else ‘listening’ that I had each and every email with all of the names of this masterful fraud and would be posting them to the internet to warn others off and perhaps just bring down their house of cards. Two weeks went by and my open letter to the dealer resulted in a “I’ve just returned, what is the problem”. When my reply was “you have my money, but you haven’t shipped my purchase”, silence again resulted. The most recent message told me that the dealer needs $300 to resolve the permit problem; I repeated the message “you have all of the money you will see from me until I have received the promised parcel.” It has now been nearly six weeks since my first payment and I suspect that this will not resolve in my favor, either with a refund or the belated arrival of the specimens I bought. So buyer(s) beware, below are the names, locations and several email addresses of the main players in this drama:

Mr. Sapawan Yanthai, the dealer, central figure and apparently the proprietor of Sapawan Entom Supplies (44587, Soi 4, Bangkok City, Thailand), email: entom.supplies99@gmail.com; the wife, Mrs Napawan Sirikan; the daughter, Somkid Pongpart; the Atlantic Worldwide Delivery contact, Mrs. Veronica Ezigha Ndze at the Douala, Cameroon international airport; the EMS office (possibly fraudulent, but possibly at Heathrow airport near London) email: EMSdeliveryservice@AviationEmail.com and the EMS agent at the Thai Postal Service, Mr. Djilo Dieudonne (EMS Office, P/O Box 8876, Bangkok City, Thailand), email: djilodieudonne@hotmail.com

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HOST DATA NEEDED, PART 2

Perhaps the time is right for the community of buprestid specialists to collaborate in assembling data about host plants?

One of the failures of my recent world catalogue, although perhaps ‘failure’ is too strong, is the complete lack of “host plant data”. Others would say that I should have given the precise, verbatim, type locality data for each species, while some might think that an expanded picture of extant and historical distribution was overlooked.

In the past weeks, I have been assembling recorded (published) data on host plants and adding these data to the growing electronic version of the world catalogue that I hope will be available in another year or so. There are many published host plant records for Nearctic species (summarized in the catalogue by Nelson, et al. 2008) and with great thanks to Sadahiro Ohmomo, I now have a list of the larval host plants for the Japanese buprestid fauna. I’ve requested that several of the Australian colleagues consider assembling their respective field notes and rearing/breeding records into a supplement which will expand our collective knowledge on the Australian fauna and this has already begun. Tomás Moore is moving forward towards the publication of his monograph on the Chilean buprestids which will include host plant data. Little beyond that exists except amongst a relatively small number of papers that included host plant data for the African, Asian and Neotropical regions. However, the obvious glaring exception to my search is what was recently written to me by Svata Bílý who essentially confirmed my suspicion that most host plant data on the Palaearctic Buprestidae is based on that published by L. Schaefer (1950, not 1949!) and A. A. Richter (1949, 1950). I note that in the subsequent volumes by Cobos (1986a), Curletti (1994a), Mühle, et. al. (2000), Muskovits &  Hegyessy (2002), Niehuis (2004), Sakalian (2003a) and Verdugo (2005c) for various countries or regions in western Europe, often reference is given to Schaefer’s host listings or that there is only given a list of plant genera associated with respective buprestids, not the very specific plant records that would be so much more useful.

And so how can this progress? Perhaps this void or need can be seen as a call to arms, inciting a real regional collaboration between colleagues from all countries in Europe or throughout the Palaearctic region. To assemble species-level host plant data will have a great benefit beyond our own interested group, both those extant and those to come. There will be great utility in having thorough lists of beetle and plant association records, e.g. to those in the ecology community, to those in the habitat restoration area, to those interested in pollination studies, and to those interested in invasive pest species, both plant and insect.

What I suggest is that someone in the Palaearctic region act as the collector and compiler of such a host plant database. There is a need to comb the literature and assemble all host plant data already published. But there is also the need to assemble and publish new records that may be lurking in the field notebooks of many who have assembled many rich collections which very good notes on the specimen labels, but who have yet to share these data with others. Eventually those specimens will be transferred to larger institutional collections and perhaps someday there will be specimen-level databases where just the push of a button will allow such data to be collected for someone on the other side of the planet. But why wait when there are many of us now to share the effort?

There seems to be a general agreement that we are firstly interested in the true host(s) of each species, that being the larval host plant or plants. Many adults feed on the foliage of their larval host, while others do not. Any many adults frequent the foliage or flowers of plants unrelated to their larval hosts. I suggest that we assemble host data into the following categories:

Larval host(s) – this is verified through rearing or breeding specimens from identified plant material or from cutting specimen from pupal cells.

Adult host(s) – three categories:

“Adults on” – which does not verify feeding nor larval association
“Adults feeding on” – which at least signifies some level of obligate association between plant and beetle
“Adults on flower(s) of” – indicating both the source of nutrition and a possible role as pollinator

However, if no one in the region is interested in taking on such a challenge, I can either choose to limit what I add about the buprestid species of that region to what I can easily find in the volumes of Schaefer and Richter (assuming I can find it in a language and alphabet I cannot read), or I can volunteer to assemble the host data that any of you might wish to send. If the later is the case, I would only ask that you please indicate what is already published and what needs to be published before being added to electronic catalogue.

The climate is changing, some species will be see huge changes in their distributions and we fear that many will be lost if we cannot mitigate and reverse the course the climate is on now. Should we not at least have a good record of what was here before it is lost?

N.B. All references above to specific publications can be found in the main catalogue bibliography (here).

HOST DATA NEEDED

I am adding larval and adult host records to the electronic world catalogue and I need help from the community. After having added all of the data presented in Nelson, et al. (2008), I have received a list of larval host records for the Japanese Buprestidae by S. Ohmomo and Ted MacRae has sent me his file which includes host records missed earlier by Nelson as well as for species from Mexico and elsewhere in the Neotropical region.

When I compiled the volume of Australian Buprestidae (Bellamy 2002), I attempted to include as much host data as I could find in the literature.

I would be particularly interested to received host data on the Palaearctic Buprestidae from those living in that part of the world. The large work on Buprestides des France by Schaeffer (1950) has many hosts and is often cited in more recent works, e.g. Curletti  (1994), Mühle, et al. (2000), Niehuis (2004), etc.

So I am very interested to hear from and potentially collaborate with anyone who can contribute biological or host plant data on Buprestidae from anywhere in the world.

Thanks in advance.

EXPANDED PDF LINKS

After the recent visit by Mark Volkovitsh to Sacramento, Mark was kind enough to leave me with copies of his entire library of images taken of many taxa and many types. I will try to make links to these, but if you need to see a particular taxon and it is not already linked to an image from the checklist, send me an email and I’ll see what I can send.

I’ve also been adding further PDFs of literature for several of our colleagues, both extinct (Théry) and extant (Corona, Holm). Please check these out as you may find something that is useful for your library. Thanks to Tom Manos, whom I work with, a complete PDF of Erik Holm’s 1978 Revision of the Subsaharan Acmaeodera is now posted. In addition, I have two copies of that work, one an original copy donated to the cause by Stan Wellso and a complete photocopy that was used by Tom to create the PDF. These are available upon request, which will be interesting to see just who reads this poorly subscribed to blog. Send me a message about why having either the copy or the original is important for your work. Considering the cost of the copy available from the British reprint dealer I gave a link to in the February 6 post, this must be a very hard to get item.

Lastly, I will be happy to link to PDFs for any of the buprestid colleagues or link to websites where your respective publication lists already have PDFs linked. You only have to send me the links or the PDFs.

My email: coraebini@comcast.net

EXPERIMENT AND LITERATURE

As I have continued to consider various ways to expand the Checklist (link) and offer more of the World Catalogue (link) data to colleagues and buprestid researchers, while preserving the commercial rights to the publisher of the printed world catalogue (link), one option is to present links to separate PDF copies for each higher taxon and genus-group taxon. I have prepared examples of this option which are available for examination on the Checklist (link) page with the entire Schizopodidae (link) and Fossils (link) now available.

Several requests for literature, partly prompted by the duplicate reprints I have offered (link), allowed me to locate a book dealer in Great Britain who offers a very impressive diversity of books and reprints on Buprestidae, including volumes from the Antonio Cobos library. If you’re trying to locate an original copy of a particular piece of  for your library, visit the website of Hillside Books on their page of buprestid literature (link).

BUPRESTID TYPES IN MEXICO CITY

Thank to Ilja Trojan’s website, I have just discovered a link to a relatively new type specimen database for the Coleccion Nacional de Insectos, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México, México City, México (CNIN = UNAM), with images of both specimens and labels in the style of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University type specimen database (link). The CNIN database can be searched via genus- or species-group name. I have begun to link the images for specific types to the World Checklist (link).

JANUARY NEWS

The World of Jewel Beetles (WJB) face-lift is complete with an index added to allow users to find links to various topics and themes without having to search through the pages categorized from the expanded contents. A new version of the PDF Bibliography is given and includes publications added since November 2009. Hans Mühle and I have decided to eliminate the waste of his time in archiving ‘new’ publications in BUPRESTIS and will collaborate to keep a running annual list of publications (here). It is my hope that the Jewel Beetle News will develop into a more widely used venue to communicate within the buprestid community and perhaps generate, or evolve into, a truly digital organ of dialogue, or at least an electronic newsletter equivalent to the widely circulated SCARABS newsletter (hosted both by The Coleopterists Society (here) and the Team Scarab website (here).

As there continue to be more and more digital resources that we can use in the absence of having a great personal library or access to a large institutional library, I will add to the list as I learn about additional on-line resources. And I have pulled out some of the more important historical references that deal with Buprestidae, partly or  in total (here). It is interesting to note that while the entire Biologia Centrali-Americana is available on-line, so far the same cannot be said, or found, for Genera Insectorum. There are, however, electronic plates for the Kerremans volume (1902-1903). Recently, with the significant assistance of Tom Manos, a technician who works in entomology lab in Sacramento where I work, most of the plates for the Kerremans’ Monographie des Buprestides (1904-1914) have been posted on-line and the full text is available via the Biodiversity Heritage Library. And although the text of the Monographie of Laporte & Gory (1835-1841) is not available, or at least undiscovered by me, Tom and I are putting the plates on-line in the arrangement of genera presented by those authors. As more important historical literature becomes available, I suggest that those interested visit the Biodiversity Heritage Library website and explore the wealth of literature already available. It takes a little practice and knowing how to search effectively, but you will be surprised what you can find if you search against an author name or a genus-group name, for instance.

I again recommend the WJB Extant Colleagues page as a source for information on many of our colleagues including photographs, links to respective websites, email addresses, lists of publications and more importantly links to publication lists with PDF copies of some/all of their papers. I recently, again with the assistance of Tom Manos, added PDFs of nearly all of my publications excluding those with copyright restrictions (e.g. Zootaxa) and larger volumes still available from their respective publishers. I note that PDFs of some/all publications are available for our colleagues Hawkeswood, Jendek, MacRae, Volkovitsh and I recently added PDFs for some earlier papers by Neef de Sainval and Nylander. I have started another page to list PDFs for miscellaneous modern authors who are not otherwise buprestid researchers (here).

To complete this post, may I again request and remind all of you that Hans and I can only list the new publications that we know about. He and I both receive reprints, or PDFs, of a number of papers each year. I have access to both the printed and on-line versions of the Zoological Record. And yet we can never be certain that we’ve found everything. If any of you know of a paper that we do not list, or know of a colleague who is not listed as Extant, or have a website, or list of publications with or without PDF copies and links, please let me know directly.  I have two email accounts, one at work (email) and one in my home office (email) where I manage the WJB website and Jewel Beetle News; please use either one, although should you have questions about the beetles or the literature, both my collection and library are in my work office and answers can come more quickly if you contact me there.