Enter the tiger beetles: the Schultz collection

Tom Schultz at Denison University

Tom Schultz at Denison University

In the summer of 2018 we were approached by Dr. Tom Schultz, Professor of Biology at Denison University, about a possible donation of his tiger beetle research collection to Ohio State University. Tom studied the structure and function of coloration in insects, with a focus on tiger beetles and damselflies (see literature reference for some of his publications below).

As Tom planned for his retirement in mid-2019 he wanted to make sure the collection was deposited at a reputable public institution which would care for the specimens while making them available to other scientists for study.

Over the 40 year span of his academic career, Tom amassed a sizable tiger beetle collection, consisting of over 5,300 well preserved and labeled tiger beetles specimens in 139 species and 131 subspecies neatly stored in 17 Cornell drawers and trays.

On a bright Tuesday morning in May 2019, over a year after we were contacted by Tom, we drove to Granville, Ohio, a quaint town about 40 miles east of Columbus. We rented a van, loaded it with padding material (bubble wrap, moving blankets, etc.), and set out to pick up Tom’s collection. We got there at 11 AM and in less than 2 hours we had everything wrapped, loaded, and ready to go. The drive back to Columbus went smoothly and not one specimen was damaged during the trip.

Once we got back to the museum the drawers were placed in temporary storage outside of the Triplehorn collection and for the next few weeks all of them went through our prophylactic freezing treatment (-40°C for 48 hours, room temperature for 24 hours, -40°C for another 48 hours) to make sure any potential insect pests were killed before bringing the drawers in the collection proper.

The Schultz Tiger Beetle collection is pristine and well-documented. As part of our NSF-funded Beetle Curation project the specimens plus their labels are being photographed and uploaded to Notes from Nature for online specimen data transcription. Check it out if you would like to learn more about the project and/or would like to help with data transcription.

Some of Schultz’s publications on tiger beetles:

  • Seago, A., Brady, P., Vigneron, J-: & Schultz, T.D. 2009. Gold bugs and beyond: A review of iridescence and structural color mechanisms in beetles (Coleoptera). Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 6: S165-S184.
  • Schultz, T. D. 2001. Tiger beetle defenses revisited: alternative defense strategies and colorations in two neotropical tiger beetles, Odontocheila nicaraguensis and Pseudoxycheila tarsalis (Carabidae: Cicindelinae). Coleopterists Bulletin 55: 153-163.
  • Schultz, T. D. & J. Puchalski. 2001. Chemical Defenses in the Tiger Beetle Pseudoxycheila tarsalis Bates (Carabidae: Cicindelinae). Coleopterists Bulletin, 55: 164-166.
  • Kirkton, S. D. & T. D. Schultz. 2001. Age-specific behavior and habitat selection of adult male damselflies, Calopteryx maculata (Odonata: Calopterygidae). Journal of Insect Behavior, 14 (4): 545-556.
  • Schultz, T. D. 1998. The utilization of patchy thermal microhabitats by the ectothermic insect predator, Cicindela sexguttata. Ecological Entomology, 23: 444-450.
  • Knisley, C. B. & T. D. Schultz. 1997. The Biology of Tiger Beetles and a Guide to the Species of the South Atlantic States. Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville, VA. 236 pp.
  • Schultz, T. D., M. Quinlan & N. F. Hadley. 1992. Preferred body temperature, metabolic physiology, and water balance of adult Cicindela longilabris: a comparison of populations from boreal habitats and climatic refugia. Physiological Zoology, 65: 226-242.
  • Hadley, N. F., A. Savill, & T. D. Schultz. 1992. Coloration and its thermal consequences in the New Zealand tiger beetle Neocicindela perhispida. Journal of Thermal Biology, 17: 55-61.
  • Schultz, T. D. 1991. Tiger Hunt. Natural History, p. 38-44.
  • Schultz, T. D.& G. Bernard. 1990. Pointillistic mixing of interference colors in cryptic tiger beetles. Nature, 337: 72-73.
  • Hadley, N. F., T. D. Schultz, & A. C. Savill. 1988. Spectral reflectances of three subspecies of the tiger beetle Neocicindela perhispida: correlations with their respective habitat substrates. New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 15: 343-346.
  • Schultz, T. D. & N. F. Hadley. 1987. Microhabitat segregation and physiological differences in co-occurring tiger beetle species, Cicindela oregona and Cicindela tranquebarica. Oecologia 73: 363-370.
  • Schultz, T. D. & N. F. Hadley. 1987. Structural colors of tiger beetles and their role in heat transfer through the integument. Physiological Zoology 60: 737-745.
  • Schultz, T. D. 1986. The role of structural colors in predator avoidance by tiger beetles of the genus Cicindela. Bulletin of the Entomological Society of America 32: 142-146.
  • Schultz, T. D. & M. A. Rankin. 1985. The ultrastructure of epicuticular interference reflectors of tiger beetles (Cicindela). Journal of Experimental Biology 117: 88-110.
  • Schultz, T. D. & M. A. Rankin. 1985. Developmental changes in the interference reflectors and colorations of tiger beetles (Cicindela). Journal of Experimental Biology 117: 111-118.

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