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 span from white to brown and often have striking patterns involving green or silver blotches on the wings.

The larvae are usually covered in formidable, poisonous spines and have incredible ways to locomote – usually involving silk. Why do we have so few in our collection?!

Those cool earwigs (Dermaptera)

We badly need earwig (Dermaptera) specimens for the teaching collection that are not Forficulidae. This post, however, serves not only as an announcement of this deficiency, but also also as a celebration of the often maligned and frequently misunderstood taxon that is Dermaptera.

You’ve undoubtedly heard the meme: earwigs seek entrance into ears of poor, unsuspecting sleepers, where they persist and, depending on the version you witness, burrow into the person’s brain. This is – and I say this unequivocally and without hesitation – complete and utter nonsense. Earwigs are harmless (aside from the slight pinch they occasionally deliver with their «forceps,» which are modified cerci), with only one recorded (and definitely accidental) entrance into someone’s ear. The poor critter was probably just looking for a secluded spot to bed down. It certainly wasn’t there to «bore into» the child’s brain. There are almost no other cases of terrestrial arthropods entering a person’s ear and remaining there – except one instance involving a couple spiders and, of course, mites in dogs and cats (but not humans!)

Aside from occasionally eating your roses and making nasty smells when handled, Dermaptera are among the most charismatic and likable of all insects. Earwigs exhibit subsocial (maternal) behavior, incredible wing folding mechanisms and behavior, parasitism, aggregation, and other attributes worthy of further exploration (e.g., they serve as models for studies of sexual selection).

One can find specimens under rocks and stones and in leaf litter, where they forage for various sources of organic matter (e.g. leaves, petals, dead insects). These specimens should be pinned. We are especially interested in Labiidae (or, as some experts prefer, Spongiphoridae)

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