History of Collecting
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and unpublished information on insect-host plant relationships.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
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
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
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
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.