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February 29, 1996 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-02-29

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88 - The Michigan Daily - We4t tU. - Thursday, February 29, 1996


Mark O'Brien is
curator of the
University's Insect
division at the
Museum of
Zoology. The
collection ranks
third nationally for
behind only
Harvard and


Float like a
The entomology division at the University is
home to more than 4 million preserved specimens.
Africa, South America, Asia: these are the areas you will experience
when looking at the many insects in the Museum of Zoology. From
giant grasshoppers to the common housefly, you can get a great sense ofjust *
how diverse the insect world is. It's not just butterflies and bees like most
people think. The collection's beginnings originated in the early part ofthe
century when the museum was formally established as a separate unit of the
University in 1913. Over the years since then, the collection has grown
significantly through expeditions, generous gifts and exchanges of various
sorts. Much of the early success in collection is attributed not only to the
curators, graduate and undergraduate students, but also to an association
known as the Detroit Naturalist's Club. This group was primarily made up *
of businessmen and professionals, mainly entomologists, who had a common
interest in nature and collecting.

The insect collection covers a broad range of regions in the world. This particular specimen is commonly known as a birdwing
butterfly. The species seen here is from India.

There is always a continuous flow
of work to be done on the collection.
Thousands of specimens have yet to be
prepared and properly identified; some
of these insects date
back to 1905. This
makes for interesting
study on the hopes that
researchers might find
changes in a species
over such time or evens
identify a new species:
There are still insects yet
to be discovered, mainly
inhabiting jungles and
Unsorted specimens
can be prepared in many
different ways, depen-
dent on the makeup of
the insect. There is dry
preparation that may be The Ruthv
pin mounted or papered. History Mi
Butterflies, moths, been hom'
beetles and dragonflies collection
are preserved in this construct[

H clubs to help out those young enthusi-
astic "buggists." These boxes may help
the moms of young insect lovers remain
sane by keeping all the bugs in one place.
Collections such as
the aquatic insects and
parasites are preserved
in vials and jars filled
with fluid containing 70
percent ethanol. Cur-
rently there are more
than 70,000 vials and
jars holding specimens
in the fluid range, but as
of right now only half of
the alcohol range, pri-
manly aquatic insects,
has been sorted and la-


en Natural
useum has
e to the
since its
Ion In 1927.

The entire Mu-
seum of Zoology De-
partment is solely a re-
search unit at the Uni-
versity. This is why
many students have little
knowledge on the field

manner. Small flies and
mites can be dry mounted on slides.
Along with the sorting of unidentified
collections, updating of. old storage
drawers has been a continuing job for

and collections on cam-
pus. But what makes the realm of this
population so fascinating is that it en-
ables the ordinary person to study, re-
search, and go places they have never


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