Academy honors insect collector

    The curator of the Academy of Natural Sciences’ orthoptera collection, Dan Otte, is receiving the Academy’s highest award for his work, including identifying 1,500 new species.

    The curator of the Academy of Natural Sciences’ orthoptera collection, Dan Otte, is receiving the Academy’s highest award for his work, including identifying 1,500 new species.

    Listen:
    [audio: 091112kginsect.mp3]

    If you ever so lucky as to get a guided tour of the orthoptera collection at the Academy of Natural Sciences, you might get to see the Lord Howe Phasmid. Jason Weintraub, the entomology collection manager, rolls aside a stack of shelving packed with insects.

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    Lord Howe Phasmid

    Weintraub: The specimens that I’m going to show you are species of walking stick that’s native to an island in the South Pacific and it has the distinction of being the world’s rarest insect.

    Weintraub pulls out a box with 5 tootsie-roll colored insects as long as my hand.

    Weintraub: This species was also known popularly as the land lobster, we don’t know if anyone actually ate them there, but they’re certainly approaching a small lobster in size. Very big stout stick insects.

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    Entomology collection manager Jason Weintraub shows off a case of insects.

    Animals like these make the collection one of the most important for orthopterists – those who study grasshoppers and their relatives. Weintraub says it’s rare for a museum to focus on one group of species.

    The biggest challenge to preserving the collection is to protect the bugs from being eaten by others – especially carpet beetle larvae.

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