Our first digitized specimens!

Our first digitized specimen, accession number PSUC_FEM 70668, is the bot fly from my shed – Diptera: Oestridae: Cuterebra emasculator. If you have sharp eyes you can see that I flubbed the det. label. I determined it in 2013! Argh.

As promised a couple weeks ago, I finally cleaned up, mounted, and accessioned that squirrel bot fly from my shed. It ain’t pretty, that’s for sure, but it’s the first record we have of the genus in our collection. It also breaks new ground for us: the first specimen in the Frost research collection to be properly digitized. We gave it an identifier label, complete with matrix barcode, and all of its associated data—where and when it was collected, latitude and longitude, who determined it and when, etc.—have been entered into our database, along with this crude image. Following close on its heels was a series of longhorn beetles I collected this winter:

Top tray: Our entire collection of Neoclytus caprea (Say, 1823), the banded ash borer, prior to the latest accession. Bottom row: series of specimens extracted from my firewood.

With minimal effort I was able to double our collection of banded ash borer specimens. Awesome! The most recently collected specimen was found in 1967. Clearly this species still lives in PA, as I pulled at least 100 out of a few bolts of ash I was splitting this winter:

Neoclytus caprea, the banded ash borer, doing a headstand in its ashen home. Note the frass-filled galleries.

These beetles bring our digital collection to 13 specimens. We’re still experimenting with label placement, and our database is not yet available on the Web, but we’re finally capturing specimen data in a way that ultimately will make them highly accessible.

I’ll write a lot more about our GRAND plans for the collection as they evolve and solidify and as more resources are assembled. We’re working to integrate the knowledge we gained from iDigBio’s recent dried insect specimen digitization workshop, recently held at the Field Museum (and attended by yours truly). The talks and demonstrations were definitely inspiring. You can read more about it on the workshop resources webpage.

So why did I add only 12 banded ash borer specimens when at least 100 were extracted? There was competition from other vertebrates in the area:

Rescuing a banded ash borer from the jaws of death!

This entry was posted in curation, Digitization, news, research. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *