Show stoppers

The specimen digitization project that we are about to start at the Triplehorn Insect Collection will create a large body of information about butterflies.  Those data, combined with the data from all the collections that are part of LepNet, will be a monumental resource for scientific research. The information on the specimen labels and the images of selected specimens will be fully available online and accessible to all interested parties, from scientists to government agencies to 4-H programs to school classes to the general insect-loving public.

Ohio State has never been a powerhouse of butterfly research, nevertheless we hold a very interesting collection of these fascinating insects. For example, we have some butterfly specimens that were collected in 1880s (they are as old as the Statue of Liberty!). Some of our specimens were collected in natural habitats that are now gone, completely modified by human activity. We have representatives of rare and endangered species. The Parshall donation added depth and breadth to our collection. What amazing new knowledge will we gain from accessing all those data together? The next months and years will be interesting ones!

While we wait for the data, we can enjoy the beauty of the specimens in the collection.

About the Author: Luciana Musetti is an Entomologist and the Curator of the Triplehorn Insect Collection.  Photos by the author.

Butterflies going digital

Last year the Triplehorn Insect Collection received a large donation of butterflies from Mr. David Parshall. More than 50,000 pinned specimens, and many thousands more in paper envelopes. You might have read about it on the Pinning Block (here and here.) We have also posted some photos of the collection move on Twitter.

We have specimens of all insect orders and from all regions of the world, but because we never had a faculty or staff who specialized on Lepidoptera, our moth and butterfly collection was not nearly as big as, for example, our beetle or leafhopper collections. This has changed with the addition of the massive Parshall donation.

Afrodite fritillary, <i>Speyeria aphrodite</i>, dorsal view.

Aphrodite fritillary, Speyeria aphrodite, dorsal view.

Afrodite fritillary, <i>Speyeria aphrodite</i>, ventral view.

Aphrodite fritillary, Speyeria aphrodite, ventral view.









The Parshall collection is a complete collection of the butterfly and skipper species found in the state of Ohio. It really stands out, though, because it also contains a huge number of specimens collected in the Arctic Canada and Alaska. (Imagine chasing butterflies in Churchill, Manitoba with the very real threat of polar bears around you! Makes the butterfly hunt just a little more interesting, don’t you think?)

<i>Limenitis</i>, admiral butterflies.

Limenitis, admiral butterflies.

The National Science Foundation has recently funded a large project called the “Lepidoptera of North America Network” (LepNet). This project, which just began this month, is a collaborative effort of 29 institutions across the United States with the goal of making 2.1 million butterfly specimen records freely available on the Internet. If that were not enough, LepNet also aims to produce over 95,000 images of the moth and butterfly species that these data refer to. The project is being coordinated by Northern Arizona University, and the Triplehorn Insect Collection will participate through a subcontract to “digitize” the Parshall collection.

Digitization, for us, means capturing and storing the information contained on each specimen label and storing it in our xBio:D database. And from there, to the world!

Every specimen in a collection has (or should have!) a label with information on where it was captured, when, and by whom. Often we find additional biological data on the labels, like the host plant that an insect was feeding on, the habitat in which it was collected, or the method by which it was collected.

Lycaenidae butterflies showing specimen labels.

Lycaenidae butterflies showing specimen labels.

Taken together, all of these bits of information tell us a lot about the geographic distribution of species going as far back as the late 19th Century, the flight period of the adults, and much more. We have not even scratched the surface of all the knowledge we can obtain from biological collections. On July 13th a story was published in the New York Times about a team of ecologists using these same data for plants to find out how many different tree species exist in the Amazon Forest (the researchers found over 11,000!).

Digitization can also mean taking pictures of the specimens. But with millions of butterfly specimens in collections we cannot reasonably take and store several pictures of each and every one of them. So the goal of LepNet is smaller, but 95,000 is still a big number.

The Triplehorn collection’s own contribution to LepNet is more modest, but important nevertheless. The Parshall collection’s strength in Arctic butterflies is particularly interesting and even before we had fully unpacked the collection after the move the specimens were already being used by scientists (see Warren et. al., 2016).

In an era of climate change, knowing where those butterflies used to be found in years and decades past will give a good impression of the impact of environmental change.

Drawer full of Lycaenidae butterflies

Drawer full of colorful Lycaenidae butterflies.



Warren, Andrew D.; Nakahara, Shinichi; Lukhtanov, Vladimir A.; Daly, Kathryn M.; Ferris, Clifford D.; Grishin, Nick V.; Cesanek, Martin; Pelham, Jonathan P. 2016.  A new species of Oeneis from Alaska, United States, with notes on the Oeneis chryxuscomplex (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae). The Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera (The Lepidoptera Research Foundation, Inc.) 49: 1–20


About the Author: Luciana Musetti is an Entomologist and Curator of the Triplehorn Insect Collection.

Virtual tour


I greatly enjoy the National Museum of Natural History virtual tour. It allows people from all over the world to view some of the exhibits that the museum has to offer.  Of course it’s not as gratifying as visiting the museum in person, but it is pretty cool.

The MBD does not have exhibits and is not regularly open to the public. Nonetheless there’s a fair amount of interest from the local community about the work we do here and the collections we hold. We frequently receive requests for tours of the facility, from local schools to OSU classes to family groups. Tours allow visitors to view some of the many specimens and objects held by the various collections and to talk to some of the faculty and curators associated with the collections. I had the pleasure of leading a number of these tours in recent months. I tried to document each tour, taking photos and posting on social media.

Here are some of the photos I took during the most recent tours. Not as fancy as a virtual tour, but hopefully cool enough to get more people excited about a future visit to the Museum of Biological Diversity.

Note that there are almost no photos of the tour groups when they are at the Triplehorn Insect Collection. I can never manage to answer questions about the collection I curate and to take photos at the same time. Oh, well!




About the Author: Luciana Musetti is an Entomologist and Curator of the Triplehorn Insect Collection.

More than 17-year cicadas


To complement Norman’s post on the 17-year cicadas, I thought today we would look at some other species of cicada that are part of the holdings of the Triplehorn Insect Collection.

Some of our cicada specimens are pretty old, dating back to the 1890’s, but the majority were collected and preserved by Joe and Dorothy Knull between the early 1930s and 1960s.

Drawer with specimens recently returned to the collection

Drawer with specimens recently returned to the collection

There are over 190 different kinds of cicadas (that includes species and subspecies) in North America alone (Sanford, 2012) and more than 3,000 around the world.

In the collection we have species of around 200 of those, but that number is likely to increase thanks to a recent loan return which added another 800 cicada specimens to the collection.  That material had been borrowed for study in 1969 and only now was returned to us. The specimens in this batch date to 1950s and 1960s.

We don’t have an exact count of the number of cicadas in the Triplehorn Insect Collection yet, but we estimate between 8,000 and 10,000 specimens. Once we finish curating and databasing our cicadas, the data for all the specimens will be available online via the collection database interface.

Here are a few of my preferred. Notice that most were collected out west. That is a reflection of the collection’s history and the research interests of the people who helped build the collection over the past 80+ years.

Some species of the genus Okanagana:


More interesting and attractive specimens:


Some exotic beauties:

Finally, a few yet to be determined show stoppers:


As we curate the collection I’ll post more photos of interesting cicada specimens from our collection.


Literature reference: Sanborn, Allen F., and Maxine S. Heath. 2012. The Cicadas (Hemiptera, Cicadoidea, Cicadidae) of North America North of Mexico. Entomological Society of America.

About the Author: Dr. Luciana Musetti is an Entomologist and Curator of the C. A. Triplehorn Insect Collection. All photos by the author.

The call of the wild

Even though it’s the middle of the political crazy season, the call I’m referring is not a primal scream from a lectern, but a chorus of insects with only one thing on their mind. The 17-year cicadas have returned!

Here at the Triplehorn collection we’ve been fielding questions and visits for weeks now about the scheduled simultaneous emergence of the three species of Brood V. Finally, we couldn’t resist any longer, and we decided to go to see them. Actually, I guess they’ve been here all along, but it is the mass emergence of adults that attract all the attention. The rest of their lives, the cicadas live as nymphs in the soil, slowly and steadily feeding on the roots of trees. But then, every 17 years, for our local species, the nymphs crawl out of the soil and climb up trees to molt into the adult stage.

Norman Johnson at Clear Creek Metro Park

Norman Johnson at Clear Creek Metro Park

My reference to the brood hints at some of the intriguing complexity that surrounds these humble creatures. First, there are two types of periodical cicadas: those with 17-year life cycles and those with 13-year life cycles. Both are unique to eastern North America. (How cool is that!)  The 13-year variety is more southern, and the 17-year variety is more northern in distribution. Within cicadas with those two life-cycles there are multiple species: four of the 13-years, and three of the 17-years. Even more, there are 15 different “broods” in different areas, and each brood times their emergence for different years. So this year (2016) Brood V is emerging in eastern and southern Ohio (and beyond); Brood VIII will emerge in the easternmost counties of Ohio in 2019; and the big and widespread emergence right here in my own back yard will be Brood X in 2021. In each 17-year brood there are the three different species: with a little training they’re easy to distinguish both by eye and by their song.

Brood V consists of all three species of 17-year cicadas: Magicicada cassinii, Magicicada septendecim, and Magicicada septendecula

Map of Clear Creek Metro Park

Map of Clear Creek Metro Park

Last week we drove from Columbus southeast to Clear Creek Metro Park. We’d heard the cicadas there were out in good numbers. It wasn’t until we got past Lancaster that we began to be able to hear the cicadas singing, even though we were tooling down the highway at the posted speed limit. As we drove along the main road through the park, following the valley carved out by Clear Creek, we could clearly hear them singing. Instead of being surrounded by a steady drone, though, the cicadas seemed to be clustered in smaller patches. They were more up the sides of the hills than in the floor of the valley, so we headed uphill. Part of this park used to be owned by Ohio State where there were teaching and research labs at a place called Barneby, an area is situated on the hills above little Lake Ramona.


One of the few adult specimens we saw that evening

One of the few adult specimens of Magicicada we saw that evening. Photo by NF Johnson

At six in the evening the cicadas were still actively singing, but we actually saw very few adults. At this time of day they seemed to all be up in the tree canopy. The nymphs usually come out at night, crawl up the vegetation, and molt into the adult stage. The plants in the area had lots of evidence of this because the skins that were shed remain attached to the plants. They truly do look like little aliens and maybe just a little bit dangerous, with their enlarged front legs that look like they could grab hold of you. In fact, though, they’re harmless.

Exuviae: remains of cicada exoskeleton after they molted to adult stage

Exuviae: remains of cicada exoskeleton after they molted to adult stage

Many have probably seen these cast skins (exuviae) that are left behind by the common dog-day cicadas, the ones that are present every year, emerging usually in the second half of the summer. The 17-year cicadas are smaller. Also, I’ve usually seen dog-day cicada exuviae on the trunks of trees.  In contrast, the ones we saw this week were much more common on leaves and even on grasses. It looks like the cicadas crawl up as far as they possibly can, and when they get on a leaf their weight makes the leaf droop downwards. At that point the nymph’s head would be pointed toward the ground. They then turn around 180 degrees, and it’s in this position that they molt.

I must say that the flurry of reports in the newspapers and on television have been a real mixed bag of fact and fiction. Amidst the facts there are little nuggets that make me scratch my head and sigh. Some headlines have reported the emergence of a “plague.”(!) Now it is true that cicadas are also called “locusts,” but locust plagues are actually huge swarms of grasshoppers, not cicadas. These real plagues are particularly damaging because the grasshoppers are ravenous feeders and consume almost every plant in sight. Adult periodical cicadas, on the other hand, don’t feed at all. The only thing they do is mate and lay eggs to produce the next generation. If there’s any damage that the cicadas do, it’s with their egg-laying activity.

One newspaper article I saw claimed that the eggs were laid in the soil, but to that I say “Nay, nay.” At the tail end of a female cicada she has a needle-like appendage that she uses to insert her eggs into tree twigs. When there are high densities of cicadas, then, the incisions made in the twigs can be so abundant that they damage that year’s growth of the tips of the trees.

To learn more about periodical cicadas, there are lots of resources.  There are websites devoted to them. A couple of the more prominent are (Magicicada is the scientific name of these animals) and Both of these also have Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. You can contribute data from sightings that will help us understand the finer details of the distribution of the different broods.

There’s a Facebook public group dedicated to the Ohio Brood V. There are lots of videos available online where you can both see and hear these fascinating beasts. I particularity enjoyed Return of the Cicadas, a short film by Samuel Orr, who’s been working an a documentary on cicadas since 2007.  Also, yesterday the Columbus Dispatch has a nice spread with pictures of various species of cicadas deposited here at our very own Triplehorn Insect Collection (see the online version here.)

There are more than 3,300 species of cicadas in the world (over 190 found in the USA), and we still have a lot to learn about them.

Walking the trails

Walking the trails and listening to the cicadas call

As a biologist, I learned that there are many truly fascinating environments in which we find the most amazing plants and animals. Most of these, though, are far away: tropical rain forests, deserts, cloud forests, karoo, etc. But here, literally in our own back yard, we have some of the most fascinating animals in all the world. Don’t miss out on the periodical cicacdas, because if you do, they won’t be back for a long time!


About the Author: Dr. Norman Johnson is an Entomologist, Professor and Director of the C.A. Triplehorn Insect Collection at Ohio State University. Photos by L. Musetti, except when indicated otherwise.

Open House on my mind


For the past three months I have done little else other than plan and prepare for the Annual Museum of Biological Diversity Open House, coming up Saturday, April 23, 10AM-4PM. As one of the lead organizers, my mind is full of the big items and the small details that need to be taken care of so all the many parts of the event can work well.  No wonder when it comes to my turn again to write a post for the #OSUBioMuseum blog, I can only think of one thing: Open House.

Earlier in the year I wrote about the changes we are implementing in order to handle the expected number of visitors.

Museum Open House 2.0

If all of you come to visit this Saturday — which we hope you do, and the trend (see graph below) continues, we will probably have another record-breaking number of visitors.

Graph showing visitor attendance at the Annual Museum Open House

Graph showing visitor attendance at the Annual Museum Open House

Besides changing the date (from February to April), we are moving most of the hands-on activities outside of the Museum and under a big tent. With more space available, we added a number of new activities, and expanded a few others.  Some of the all-time favorites, like the Arthropod Zoo, were given more space. The full list of activities and the collections that will be open to the public, may be seen below.

Guide to the collections, displays areas and activities of the 2016 Museum Open House.

Guide to the collections, displays areas and activities of the 2016 Museum Open House.

If you are following us on social media, we have been instagramming, tweeting and posting updates on Facebook about the upcoming event. Several of us, faculty, staff and students in the Museum, are posting on one or more of these outlets so the best way to follow is to search for the hashtag #MBDOH2016.

Now, with only a few days to go and with most of the big items taken care of, I’m having a little time to contemplate the overwhelming size of the event ahead of us. Wow!

Back in 2005 we never imagined that our Open House would become this big and successful. We only thought we would share the work we do and the amazing animals and plants we study.

But after eleven annual open houses, and knowing that so many of our neighbors here in central Ohio have the same passion and enthusiasm for the natural world as we do, we can only be thankful and try to hold the best event we can.

All the collections are working on colorful theme-related displays and we will also have new hands-on activities. We hope you can join us as we explore the role of colors in Nature during our 2016 Museum Open House.

For more information about the event please visit our Visitor Information page. Note that we have much more visitor parking space available this year.  

Before I forget, I especially want to acknowledge the work and support of my colleague Steve Smith. In 2014, when I first worked on the organization of a museum Open House, Steve had just started as the Museum’s part-time office manager. We both had to learn a great deal, and banged our heads around more than a few times. And here we are again! Thanks, Steve!


About the Author: Dr. Luciana Musetti is an Entomologist and the Curator of the Triplehorn Insect Collection.


Living Colors

Mark your calendars: Saturday, April 23. The doors of the Museum of Biological Diversity will be open from 10AM to 4PM. We will also have several outdoor activities. 


With a little more than 30 days to go until the big day, we’re now in the thick of the preparations for our Annual Museum Open House.  The theme for the 2016 event is “Living Colors.” The collections are selecting specimens and preparing displays and activities that will illustrate the theme. We are planning a number of hands-on activities for biodiversity lovers of all ages.

Here are just a few examples of the use of color in Nature that will be showcased during the Open House.

These two jumping spiders show the extreme sexual dimorphism and the use of color for sexual advertisement.

Habronattus americanus

Habronattus americanus, male (left) and female (right). From “Common Spiders of North America”, by Richard Bradley, with illustrations by Steve Buchanan. Used with permission.


Male (left) and female (right) Karner Blue (Plebejus melissa samuelis) illustrate sexual dimorphism in this rare butterfly subspecies.


Etheostoma bellum, Orangefin Darter.

The darter family, Percidae, is found only in North America, with the largest concentration of species in the Mississippi River watershed. One example of their vivid colors is shown here: Etheostoma bellum, the Orangefin Darter. Photo from the OSU Fish Division.


More information for the public about the upcoming event will be available soon at the MBD website.


About the Author: Dr. Luciana Musetti is an Entomologist. Curator of the Triplehorn Insect Collection & one of the organizers of the 2016 Museum Open House.


T-Shirt Design Contest: Award Reception

Yesterday afternoon we had a neat wrap up for the first Museum Open House T-Shirt Design Contest. Dr. Norman Johnson, Entomologist, Professor, and chair of the organization of the 2016 Museum Open House, was our emcee. He pointed out that the event T-shirt has been a tradition for 11 years now and a memento that volunteers cherish (and wear) long after the event. In fact, several of the students and staff attending the reception yesterday were wearing their preferred T-shirt. To know more about the history of the Museum Open House, check out our website.

The artist who created the winning design, Ann Faris, is a major in Art Management at Ohio State and has a strong interest in Biology. Dean Christopher Hadad congratulated Ann and presented her with the prize, an Apple Watch.

For each of the contest entrants we have certificates of participation. In addition to Dean Hadad, Associate Deans Andrea Ward-Ross and Steve Pirrell also attended. We want to thank them for their support both for the design contest as well as the Open House itself.


About the Author: Dr. Luciana Musetti is an Entomologist and Curator of the Triplehorn Insect Collection. She is working on the organization of the 2016 Museum Open House.











On the accessibility of collections

“Natural history collections are virtually inaccessible to everyone.”

This statement, in one form or another, can be found in many recent publications, online articles, opinion pieces, blog posts, and many comments on other social media outlets. To be absolutely honest, this irritates me greatly and there’s no better place to vent frustration than in a blog post!

Up until the late 1990’s the term ‘accessibility’ as applied to natural history collections, and insect collections in particular, had two basic components:

  • Collection organization – with millions of specimens and many thousands of species, the material must be carefully organized, labeled, and catalogued so it is accessible when there is a request for information or for a loan.
  • Services to scientists – scientists can access the specimens for the purpose of study, either through loans (upon request our staff selects, packages and ships specimens to scientists for study) or by visiting the collection.

Nowadays, we receive weekly requests that go more or less like this:

  • Can I have the specimen data and images for each species of all your (name of insect group here)?
  • Can you please take photos of the following (30 species) of (name of group here) for my (book, thesis, website, publication, database, etc.)?

Collections have quickly taken advantage of new computer and imaging technologies to provide new services to our user base, but with the advent of the Internet, browsers, most notably Google, and now mobile technology, collections are facing new, and I argue sometimes very unrealistic, expectations of services by our existing users, new users, and even funding agencies.

Augochlorella pomoniella OSUC 128046

Augochlorella pomoniella OSUC 128046

There is a strong and fast-growing demand for high resolution images of specimens and of specimen label data that can be easily plugged into studies of global climate change, evolutionary biology, conservation, etc. Please don’t get me wrong! This is awesome! We have been saying for many years that collections are an enormous resource of precious information and we stand by it! However, this relatively recent demand did not come with funds to support much needed basic collection curation or for hiring and training of permanent curatorial staff.

Accessibility‘ today goes way beyond old-fashioned physical access to specimens or even online catalogs. It includes the expectation (and demand really!) of having all the specimen level data captured and remotely accessible now. Collections continue to incorporate new technologies into our curatorial protocols to provide the best service we can to our users. But what is reasonable? What’s possible, particularly with the reality on the ground?

Collection curation (= maintenance and improvement) takes 1) people, 2) time, and 3) money. Maybe one day technology will eliminate the need for humans handling collection specimens, but that does not look very likely in the near future. In the meantime most collections are chronically underfunded. In our case, we do not have a centrally supplied operating budget.

In university settings, most of our work force are undergraduate students and, as a consequence, highly temporary in nature. No matter how smart and dedicated our undergraduate students are, they usually have no prior curatorial experience and must be trained from scratch. The constant training and management of part-time workers is very time-consuming and stressful for the few permanent staff.

Extra-mural funding options for collections are limited to donations, and, on occasion, grants for special projects. Our day-to-day operations (specimen preparation, loan-related activities, visitor support and infrastructure, and much more) are basically self-funded and therefore done if and when we have money, personnel and time to do it.

We at the Triplehorn Insect Collection continue to be committed to making collection information available online. We were one of the first insect collections in the world to make specimen data remotely available: our website has been on-line since 1994, and dynamic access to specimen data since 1997.  Our state-of-the-art web interface serves all but one of the collections here at the Museum of Biological Diversity as well as various partner institutions across the country and abroad.


Our level of commitment, however, is running up against the limits of our resources. We’re trying to think of new and productive ways to generate financial support, and as much as we dislike it, everything is on the table. Some museums charge “bench fees” to visitors (we don’t yet); perhaps we should consider a virtual bench fee. Can the data and images that we create be monetized in other ways as well, particularly for commercial purposes? So far all our data have been made freely available online, and we like it that way. But how long will we be able to afford it? This is all very complicated and made more difficult by the fact that we work within the context of a taxpayer-supported public university.

Speaking of taxpayers, the general public can help collections by supporting our efforts. Volunteers, donations (our Friends of the Triplehorn Insect Collection fund is 100% used for the care of the collection), and just word-of-mouth are all critical to the cause.

More information about the Triplehorn Insect Collection is available on our (soon to be revamped) website. The collection Facebook page brings recent updates & fun stories. Also, check out our collection blog, Pinning Block, for a view of the collection, our people and the work we do.


About the Authors: Dr. Luciana Musetti is Curator of the Triplehorn Insect Collection at Ohio State University.  Dr. Norman F. Johnson is Director of the Triplehorn Insect Collection and Moser Chair in Arthropod Systematics and Biological Diversity in the Department of Evolution, Ecology, & Organismal Biology and Department of Entomology at The Ohio State University.

Follow us, @osuc_curator@baeus2 on Twitter for our more personal views & commentary.

Busy as bees


It’s only mid-January, and the Triplehorn Insect Collection 2016 calendar is already getting crowded. So I started laying out the events and activities that are coming up. Here’s the scoop:

January 29 – Deadline for the 2016 Museum Open House T-Shirt Design Contest

2016 T-Shirt Design Contest

2016 T-Shirt Design Contest

One of the perks of volunteering to help with the Museum Open House is the volunteer t-shirt.  Since 2006, volunteers have received a unique t-shirt, designed especially for the year’s event.  The t-shirt is both practical (easy to identify the people working on the event) and so very cool (only the people who work in the event have it.)

In 2008, ‘Alien Invaders‘ became the first theme associated with the Museum Open House. T-shirt designs and colors changed over the years. Every volunteer has their preferred t-shirt and many of us take pride in having the complete set of Museum Open House t-shirts.

The theme for the 2016 Museum Open House is Living Colors, addressing the role of colors in nature. This year OSU students are invited to participate of the t-shirt creation process by entering their design idea in the Museum Open House T-Shirt Design Contest. And the winner will get an Apple Watch, plus a t-shirt! Deadline is January 29. There’s still time to participate!

April 23 – Museum Open House #MBDOH2016

As I mentioned on a previous post, the Museum Open House is getting a face-lift that includes moving to a later date to take advantage of the (hopefully) warmer weather & adding outdoor activities.  If the trend continues, we expect to break records again in the number of visitors, and we are trying to prepare for that.  Planning for the #MBDOH2016 started back in October 2015, and will pick up speed in the next several weeks. Follow our progress on Facebook and Twitter by using the event’s hashtag. Here are some photos of the Triplehorn collection activities during the Museum Open House. Many more are available on our Facebook photo albums. Check it out!

June 27 to July 1 – Insect Summer Camp

One thing we’ve learned from the Open House is that there are a lot of people, particularly kids, that are just over the top about insects and eager to learn more. To address this need, this summer we’ll have an insect summer camp: a 5-day camp (just during the day, not overnight!) targeted at middle school students. We want to work with the students to help them learn about what insects there are, how they’re put together, what they do (both the good and the bad), and how to make an insect collection. In addition to collecting, we’re arranging interesting visits and other activities. We’re working closely with the Department of Entomology and the Ohio 4-H in developing the camp. Enrollment will be limited, so if you’re interested keep a close watch on the collection’s Facebook page to sign up when the time comes.

September 24-25 – Entomological Collections Network Meeting

The ECN is a long-standing organization dedicated to the support and dissemination of information about and for entomological collections. Membership is open to anyone interested in the subject. Each year the ECN meeting brings together collection curators (like me!), managers, and users from all over the world to discuss community advancements, report on curation and collections-based research projects, etc. ECN meetings are held on the weekend before the Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America.

September 25-30 – XXV International Congress of Entomology 

ICE is the premier international event for entomologists and is held every four years.  The 2016 event will be hosted by the Entomological Society of America in sunny Orlando, FL.  More than 6,000 entomologists from all over the world are expected to participate.

We plan to submit our curatorial and specimen databasing work for presentation at ECN and ICE.

Besides these events, we will continue working on ongoing curatorial projects and activities, mainly:

Beetle Curation — Tenebrionidae specimen databasing: So far we have added 16,383 teneb specimens to the database (mostly between June and December 2015.)  That’s roughly 3 of our cabinets, so 7 more to go. Anyone interested in volunteering a few hours a week to help us out is more than welcome!

List of Coleoptera species in the collection: A list may not sound very impressive, but that is a very useful tool for our curatorial staff.  It’s also a laborious and tedious task which involves deciphering cryptic handwriting and/or very small typed text (ask Lauralee an Alex about that.)  Our very preliminary list of beetles contains about 13,000 species names. Based on our experience with the beetle families that we have already curated, it’s safe to say that our list of beetle species will grow significantly as we inventory the collection.

Incorporation of the Parshall Butterfly Collection — Before we can add the new donation to the general collection, all the specimen boxes and drawers need to be frozen as a preventive pest control measure. Freezing (-20 to -40°C for several days) will kill any live pests that might be hiding in the drawers. As drawers are freeze-treated and added to the general collection, and as time and funds allow, we will be inventorying and cataloging them.

200+ butterfly drawers will be placed in freezer for preventive pest control.

200+ butterfly drawers will be placed in freezer for preventive pest control.

Training personnel — Last year several undergrad student assistants graduated and left.  In addition, two of our volunteers and interns concluded their term with us and left as well.  By mid-2016 we will go through even more personnel changes as Matt Elder (after 5 years working here with us) and Katherine Beigel both graduate and head out into the world. These two students will be a tough act to follow, but that’s the nature of universities: students graduate. We expect to hire new students in the next few months to be trained and to work on specimen databasing, imaging, and curation in general.

Training of new student assistants takes between 4 to 6 months for those working 10 hours per week. Our newest hires, Martha Drake and Rachel McLaughlin, two Entomology majors that started with us last semester, are back to work after the school break and are making very good progress.

We also have a new volunteer! Jan Nishimura has just joined us this week. Welcome, Jan! She will be receiving training on handling specimens and basic curatorial skills so she can help us accomplish our goals for the year.

Service to the community — Last but not least, we serve the community by providing access to the collection for both study and outreach. We offer qualified individuals the options of borrowing specimens or coming in to examine the specimens here. We can also provide data and images upon request. We welcome groups and individuals, on an appointment basis, for guided tours of the collection.

The new year came full of challenges, but full of possibilities as well. We are embracing it, keeping very busy, and relishing the chance to discover something new or beautiful each and every day.


About the Authors: Dr. Luciana Musetti is an Entomologist and the Curator of the Triplehorn Insect Collection. Dr. Norman Johnson is the Director of the Triplehorn Insect Collection. He made a significant contribution to the post and shares the authorship.