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.