April 20, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s lacrosse falls to Hofstra on Senior Night, 11-6 -

Saturday, April 19, 2014

VIDEO: UMass United Rally in support of Derrick Gordon, LGBTQ community -

Friday, April 18, 2014

Student rally in support of Gordon, LGBTQ community -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

John Ashcroft faces criticism during speech -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass football continues move in new direction in annual Spring Game -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thousands gather in Amherst Commons for 23rd Annual Extravaganja -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sexual violence is not ‘normal’ -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

One year after Boston Marathon bombings, UMass doctor Pierre Rouzier continues passion to help -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Photo Slideshow: UMass United Rally -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Get Yourself Tested at UMass -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Library labyrinth targets stress -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

There is nothing to debate about global warming -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass hits the road to take on LaSalle -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

No. 11 UMass women’s lacrosse looks to extend winning streak against Richmond -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive latest McCormack Executive-in-Residence -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Got a little Irish in you? -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass doctoral student awarded Soros Fellowship -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass Dressage Team discusses the lesser-known sport -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Canelas: Things worth watching in Spring Game 2014 -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

‘The Walking Dead’ finale resurrects a dull season -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A bug’s life in Fernald Hall

Shaina Mishkin/Collegian

With all of the towering buildings and construction going on around campus nowadays, it’s easy to forget that UMass was born out of an agricultural college. Easier to forget is the huge entomology program housed here on campus.

The bug exhibit at Fernald Hall, which resides just between the Franklin Dining Commons and the Studio Arts Building, offers a glimpse of an array of live and preserved bugs including roaches, beetles and even spiders.

The live bugs section features hissing cockroaches, giant cave cockroaches, North American beetles, a curly haired tarantula and a whole lot of crickets. The dead bug collection consists of bugs from across the Pioneer Valley and around the world.

Some components of vast wall of taxidermied bugs worth mentioning are the delicately adorned butterflies and moths, as well as some brawny looking horned beetles.

The exhibit can be seen if you enter the front door of Fernald and head up the stairs to the left. On the right of the first room you enter you’ll see a wide array of bugs on display.

Fernald Hall was built in 1910 and dedicated to Professor Charles Henry Fernald, who at the time was one of the country’s leading entomologists. In 1925, the Fernald Club was formed with the intent of studying bugs, and with that the culture of Fernald Hall expanded and so began the bug exhibit. Since its inception, the Fernald Club has been studying bugs.

“Historically, the entomology program was a big program,” said Ben Normark, the curator of insects. “Currently entomologists are scattered across a number of different departments.”

The free-to-all-viewers exhibit in the hallway “gets a lot of outreach,” and the Fernald bug collection as a whole is used for “teaching insect systematics and identifications,” Normark said.

In a club yearbook from 1932, some light is shed on a field expedition to Mount Toby Reserve, which lies in Sunderland. “By splitting open dead and slightly decayed logs, and examining dying trees …  a good idea of the various insects was obtained,” the yearbook states.

Today, graduate student Scott Schneider leads the club. Aside from being club president, Schneider is also the insectarium director, which entails holding permits for housing some of the bugs as well as overseeing their care.

According to Schneider, the majority of the insects don’t actually require a permit.          “Anyone could buy them from a dealer and keep them as pets,” he said.

Some insects, however, such as the “assassin bugs” (Platymeris biguttata) and the cave roaches (Blaberus giganteus), require permits from a branch of the USDA called APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service), which conducts routine inspections.

According to Schneider, this is because “insects that require permits have been deemed to pose a potential threat to native wildlife if they were set loose.”

The collection is maintained by UMass student Connor Hart, who feeds the bugs twice a week. According to Schneider, the majority of the collection gets an assortment of fresh fruit or cat food, while “the predators receive crickets and/or Madagascar hissing roaches to chow down on.”

Schneider explained how in the past the collection was “financially supported by the Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences Department and the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.” But, he said, “the recent loss of PSIS and withdrawal of support from SSA means that we will be searching for new sources of funding for the upcoming year.”

Thomas Verdone can be reached at tverdone@student.umass.edu.

 

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