Expeditions

Costa Rica photo gallery

We also brought back some crazy looking stink bugs (Pentatomidae) and their relatives (e.g., leaf-footed bugs (Coreidae), assassin bugs (Reduviidae), and plant bugs (Miridae)). Expect pictures soon. In the meantime, here’s a picture of the motley crew that carried out this research (L to R: Bob Blinn, Andy Deans, Josephine Rodriguez (University of Illinois), and Matt Bertone).

Fun

Hexapod Haiku 2017 – runners-up (poet over 13)

We saw parallels between the worlds of model organisms (e.g., Drosophila melanogaster) and model graduate students: untold millions of flies sacrifice their lives daily to provide data, while untold thousands of students sacrifice their (social) lives to interpret and disseminate those data. In this scene the student becomes the studied… the researcher, the researched. We wonder how people can get rid of flies using such cruel methods. Congratulations to Martha Love, one of our first repeat winners (2010), for writing such a delightful, thought-provoking poem.

Curation

Profiling the pinned collection

As I mentioned a few days ago, we spent a week last spring — almost exactly a year ago, actually — profiling our holdings of pinned insects, using a system modified from McGinley (1989, 1993). This process, pulling out each drawer, evaluating the condition of its contents, and then publishing our conclusions, was one of our 2010 New Year’s resolutions. We did end up profiling the pinned material but failed to publicly avail the results! So here they are. Note…

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Expeditions

Microceraphron! Who are you? (part 2)

I focused on yellow pan traps (YPT), mostly, for my collecting because the material we get is relatively easy to sort, with numerous parasitoids, like Ceraphronoidea and quite easy to install and control them. I started with 300 YPT at the first site, the number of the traps decreased, though, for different reasons. Collecting sites are marked below, and I am giving just short descriptions of main collecting sites and events in this post. Probably you will hear some nice…

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Desired taxa

NC insects of the week

Hemiptera: Hebridae: Hebrus concinnus Uhler, 1894 Thinking about that spongillafly last week reminded me of other interesting and somewhat rare species I’ve come across, so this week I cover another uncommon insect I collected during my tenure as a masters student: the velvet water bug, Hebrus concinnus. Actually, I don’t know if the individuals I collected were this species, but they were definitely Hebrus. I found them crawling across the surface of a pool at the bottom of a waterfall…

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Expeditions

The latest news

I haven’t posted any news about the Museum in what seems like FOREVER. So here’s what’s been happening, in short snippets, during the last couple months: In March I traveled to South Australia to talk about ongoing projects (and hash out future research ideas) with my colleagues John Jennings and Andy Austin. We traveled 1200 km or so through eastern SA and western VIC, collecting along the way. I’ll write a separate post about this adventure, complete with pictures and…

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Curation

Fall 2017 update, part 3 – (near) future directions

We have a rather full schedule for the next few months, with respect to some of our scheduled goals. One of our New Year’s resolutions was to finish profiling the collection. I doubt we’ll be able to finish the slides (or even start), but we’re making progress towards determining our wet collection metrics. We’ll write them up and describe our results soon. We’ll follow this process with tests of methods we think will be useful for digitizing wet collections (imaging…

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Desired taxa

NC insect of the week – number 10

Mecoptera: Meropeidae: Merope tuber Newman, 1838 Merope tuber is the only representative of the family Meropeidae in North America. The Australian earwigfly, Austromerope poultoni Killington and the extinct species Boreomerope antiqua Novokschonov, known from the Middle Jurassic in Siberia, are the only other known species in the family (1). The first specimen of Merope tuber was collected in 1837 by Edward Doubleday in Trenton Falls, New York. In 1838, a contemporary of Charles Darwin, Edward Newman, described the species. The…

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Art

Found insects as a medium for art

Katja Seltmann sent me the link to this awesome video, which shows how insect collections can inform and inspire art. Gavin Broad was just here a couple weeks ago. I wish I had a chance to ask him about this! An example of Tessa Farmer’s amazing art (lots of hymenopterans represented, which certainly inspires me): Public Display Revitalization Project and the Artists in Entomology Series This Friday October 22nd is the public opening for the new public display cases located…

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Fun

Hexapod Haiku 2018 – best in show (poet over 13)

Slowly falling down, Insecticides stole my prime. Death by lack of breath. Brian Wood Edmond, OK Judges’ Comments: The poem paints a heartbreaking portrait of physical suffering and premature death, serving, perhaps, as a modern Silent Spring. We see dual, overlapping protagonists — one human, one hexapodous — each suffering at the hands of some unnamed chemical, until, inevitably, they are each robbed of their vitality. The irony is that toxins intended to promote human health, e.g., by extirpating insect…

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Fun

Hexapod Haiku 2011 – honorable mention, poets under 13

I’ve been slow to announce the honorable mention entries from this year’s Hexapod Haiku Challenge, mainly because we had a fairly large number of high quality poems. Here are five honorable mentions (in no particular order) from poets under the age of 13 that resonated with the judges: Dragonfly are big time fly’s They can fly through the night skytime all through the night time Brecannna Berrios Baltimore, MD Judges’ comments: We liked the iterations of «fly» and «night,» which…

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Desired taxa

NC insect of the week – number 15

Mantodea: Mantidae: Brunneria borealis, Scudder 1896 As a kid, I was always outside exploring the great outdoors, which for me usually consisted of chasing and catching any insect within sight (even wasps, which I usually ended up regretting)! But I remember, as many of us probably do, catching and trying to feed one of the most bizarre of insects, the praying mantis. I thought they were fascinating – after all, they are the only insects that can look over their…

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Expeditions

Microceraphron! Who are you? (part 1)

I am back from Hungary without posting anything during my trip (although I did promise this to Andy!). Internet connections, however, were not the best in the places we spent most of our time, but perhaps the main reason for this «blogless» period is that I haven’t and never will be the winner of a Blogitzer Prize. Anyway, now I am back and Andy tells me at least 25 times a day, that I promised to write something about the…

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Fun

Ticks on a plane

Yesterday, I flew the exhausting, bone-stiffening 10 hour flight from North Carolina to London, England. I’m here to visit the beautiful Natural History Museum to image type specimens of Evaniidae for my graduate work. I was expecting the only trouble I might have was getting through security at the airport with the imaging system I am carrying (there was no trouble!), but sometimes you just can’t plan ahead for certain… peculiar… events while traveling. I was sitting on the plane…

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Art

Our first nano GigaPan

We’ve been quietly portaging our drawer images to the GigaPan website over these last few months, and more than 1,100 are now available for perusal and annotation. We’ve also partnered with other taxonomists and a library scientist to re-purpose many of the images and to more rigorously explore their utility. More on that later. Right now I want to highlight our first nano-scale GigaPan(!): This little ensign wasp (Hymenptera: Evaniidae: Acanthinevania sp.), collected in western Victoria, is not quite 1…

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Curation

The dangers of using Google Earth/Maps to georeference

Bombus vagans, beautifully captured by J. C. Lucier. My colleague ran into an interesting problem while georeferencing our bumble bees yesterday. It was a nice lesson for our lab group, so I thought I’d post the story here for everyone… We’re in the process of affixing unique identifiers to all of our bee specimens, and we’re capturing the information from their labels: where and when they were collected and by whom. These metadata are typed into a spreadsheet that we…

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Desired taxa

Taxon wish list: Limacodidae (Lepidoptera)

Well, it might be too late for this year’s class, but we desperately need adult Limacodidae (Lepidoptera) for the teaching collection – we have only one un-spread, atypical specimen. I’ve pulled these small to medium sized moths from sheets bathed in the bluish tinge of Hg-vapor and from incandescent lights against my house. They often adopt relatively bizarre postures that involve headstands, curved abdomens, and one position that can only be described as a frozen «push-up.» Look for colors that…

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Fun

Hexapod Haiku 2011 – honorable mention, poets over 13

wind in the grasses one foxtail steadied by a damselfly Graham High Blackheath, London, UK Judges’ comments: This entry was one of the best of those entries that adhered to the spirit of true haiku – i.e., a singular, thought-provoking, nature-based image. The sparse words paint a clear, beautiful picture. This entry was really wonderful to read. at rest on the hospice wall a mayfly Charles Trumbull Santa Fe, NM Judges’ comments: Short-lived as adults, it makes sense that a…

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Curation

ENT 502 collection exemplars

We’re in the process of imaging some of the student collections from last semester’s iteration of ENT 502. This is the foundational entomology class for graduate students, Insect Biodiversity and Evolution, which requires a fairly substantial collection as part of the grade. Students have written multiple times in their evaluations how useful it’d be to see collections from previous classes: the ranges of specimen numbers, morphospecies numbers, curation levels, labeling schemes, etc. What does a great collection look like? What…

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