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History of Collecting
Collector and Identifier Abbreviation Key

History of Collecting

The Collectors

Francis M. Webster, M.Sc., served as chief of the Department of Entomology at the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station, Wooster, Ohio, from 1891 to 1901. He was formerly employed as an entomologist in Indiana. Besides his insect-collection activities, Webster kept Accession Catalogs of his various activities, including notes on insects brought to his attention by his staff and the public. Two of his accession catalogs were kept in the Insect Reference Collection Museum of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center at Wooster. Records from these catalogs provided the earliest collection data and unpublished information on insect-host plant relationships.

C. W. Mally was a technician, in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station, who collected various insects from 1896 to 1898. He also coauthored a research publication on the armyworm with Webster.

H. A. Gossard and J. L. King studied the biology and control of the peach tree borer and the lesser peach tree borer in 1918 and deposited specimens of these moths in the Collection.

Albert I. Good was a Presbyterian minister whose hobby was collecting butterflies and skippers. Dr. Good donated many butterfly and skipper specimens to the Department of Entomology. These specimens were collected in and around Wooster from 1902 to 1904. Dr. Good also served as a missionary to the French Colony of Cameroun, Africa, for 40 years where he collected butterflies and other insects. When he returned from his foreign assignment around 1974, he resumed his collection of butterflies and skippers in Wayne County. Some of these specimens were deposited in the OARDC Insect Collection.

John S. Houser, Ph.D., chief of the Department of Entomology at the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station from 1904 to 1947, specialized in insects attacking forest and shade trees in Ohio and published a comprehensive research bulletin on his discoveries in 1918. Many insects captured or reared in his research were labeled and deposited in the Collection.

Claud R. Neiswander, Ph.D., professor and associate chairman, Department of Zoology and Entomology at the Experiment Station, operated incandescent-bulb light traps from 1923 to 1961 to collect May beetles. He was also attracted to many of the brightly colored moths that were also trapped. Many of these were spread and labeled and are still in the Insect Reference Collection at Wooster.

Ralph B. Neiswander, Ph.D., professor, Department of Zoology and Entomology at the Experiment Station, conducted research on the alternate hosts of insects parasitizing the oriental fruit moth from 1930 to 1940. He reared many native species of Ohio microlepidoptera to discover the parasites associated with them (Neiswander, 1936). Voucher moths of many species were identified by experts and later placed in the departmental collection.

Leland L. Martin (1912-1988) was a foundry administrator who studied the butterflies and skippers in northern Ohio for nearly 30 years and collected in Wayne County in 1979.

David G. Nielsen, Ph.D., professor, Department of Entomology, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), conducted research on the biology and pheromones of the economically important clear-winged moths. Foster W. Purrington and Dr. Nielsen discovered a new species of clear-winged moth in 1976 (Purrington and Nielsen, 1977).

Foster W. Purrington was an agricultural technician in the Department of Entomology at OAES/OARDC who collected many species of clear-winged moths from 1962 to 1975. Nielsen and Purrington collected and donated a series of clear-winged moth specimens to the Insect Reference Collection.

Roy W. Rings, Ph.D., professor and associate chairman, Department of Entomology, OAES/OARDC, conducted research on the biology and control of insects attacking stone fruits from 1947 to 1961. His studies included the biological control of the oriental fruit moth, biology of the red-banded leaf roller, and the lesser peach tree borer. In 1960 he became interested in insects that fed upon trees in the genus Prunus. This interest was sparked by the prevalence of newly discovered virus diseases of stone fruits.

From 1960 to 1966 Rings collected many species of insects on cultivated, ornamental and wild cherry, plum, and peach in five Ohio Arboretums, including the Secrest Arboretum at OARDC. This research resulted in many new host plant-caterpillar records. Many of these records pertained to the green fruitworm complex on fruit and forest trees. This information was published in 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975.

From 1966 to 1974, Rings operated three black-light traps to capture moths at OARDC and at his home. In 1970 he began investigations on the many species of climbing cutworms attacking fruit trees in the Midwest (Rings, 1971, 1972a, and 1972b). From 1973 to 1977, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center served as the cutworm identification center for a multidisciplinary, multistate Environmental Protection Agency grant that supported a research project on soil arthropods attacking corn and vegetables. Rings served as coordinator for the cutworm studies and collected many species of armyworms and cutworms in Wayne County.

While collecting material for this project, numerous, nontarget species of Lepidoptera of no economic importance were collected and discarded. After realizing the importance of these species as contributions to basic science, a separate grant was prepared to support the development of a checklist of the Noctuidae of Ohio. The project, jointly financed by the Ohio Biological Survey and the OARDC, was begun in 1974 and continued through 1975. The project was continued without grant funds from 1976 to 1999. Although Rings retired in 1977, he continued to study moths, and after 18 years of investigations, this project resulted in the publication of The Owlet Moths of Ohio in 1992 (Rings et al., 1992).

David H. Harris was a technical assistant employed in 1974 and 1975 to collect moths for the project concerning The Owlet Moths of Ohio. Harris collected and identified many moths caught in the black-light traps operated at OARDC.

M. Sean Ellis, technical assistant, 1995 to 1997, in the Department of Entomology at OARDC, was employed to inventory the insects in the Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area and the Killbuck Wildlife Area with Dr. Roger Williams. He collected many moths in black-light traps at the two locations mentioned. These were identified by Rings.

Roger A. Downer, Ph.D., has been employed since 1989 in the Department of Entomology's Laboratory for Pesticide Control Application Technology (LPCAT laboratory). In his spare time, he collected butterflies in the Secrest Arboretum at OARDC and Wooster Memorial (Spangler) Park. In 1999, he and his son, Nicholas, began collecting moths at a location designated as Wooster East (one of the collecting sites described on the following pages) and contributed many records for the Wayne County Survey.

The Collections

The Insect Reference Collection, OARDC

As mentioned previously, this collection was begun in 1896 by Francis Webster. Over many years, various members of the OARDC faculty identified, labeled, and added insect specimens from research in their own specialties. Most of these specimens had been identified by identification specialists in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C.

All of the insect orders in the collection Odonata, Orthoptera, Homoptera, Hemiptera, Neuroptera, Mecoptera, Coleoptera, Diptera, and Hymenoptera were stored in a large, 80-drawer, metal cabinet made by the inmates of the Ohio State Penitentiary about 1910. Also stored in this cabinet was a collection of insects not known to occur in the United States, which was furnished by the USDA to identify newly introduced insect pests into Ohio.

From 1961 to 1966, Rings purchased 12 Cornell Insect Storage Cabinets, each with 12 drawers, for the collection of Lepidoptera. Many reared moth specimens were added from his research on cherry insects in 1961, and complete trays of the green fruitworm and climbing cutworm moth specimens were added from 1964 to 1977.

Hundreds of moth specimens were added as a result of his 1982 to 1999 surveys of Lepidoptera in various nature preserves, state parks, and wildlife areas in Carroll, Tuscarawas, Knox, Licking, Holmes, Lake, Geauga, Ashland, Richland, Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage, Summit, Clark, Williams, Fulton, Hamilton, and Wayne Counties, in that order.

From 1982 to 1991 Rings joined collecting expeditions to various countries to collect both butterflies and moths. The purpose was to develop a representative collection of Lepidoptera from the rain forests of the tropics before the gradual extermination of these forests by natives for food and shelter.

Rings, at his own expense, traveled to Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and most of the countries in the West Indies on expeditions with Dr. Tom Emmel of the University of Florida. The resulting specimens were identified, spread, labeled, and deposited in the Insect Reference Collection. In early 1999, this collection totaled 144 drawers of Lepidoptera. In mid-1999, many of the endangered and rare specimens of moths were transferred to The Ohio Lepidopterists Insect Collection at The Ohio State University`s Museum of Biological Diversity. Eric H. Metzler of Columbus, Ohio, is the curator of this collection.

Other Collections of Lepidoptera

Leland L. Martin donated his private collection to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland, Ohio.

Albert I. Good donated his collection to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.