An Inaugural Specimen

Outside, Isa Betancourt smiles with her insect collecting net.

Here I am in the field ready to catch some bugs. Photo by Isa Betancourt (Yay selfies) (CC BY 2.0) Click for source.

Isa Betancourt examines some vials of Craneflies (Limoniidae) in the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University Entomology Collection.

Examining some vials of Craneflies (Limoniidae) in the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University Entomology Collection. Photo by Isa Betancourt (Self Portrait) (CC BY 2.0) Click for original.

Hello! This is Isa. I am the fourth and final Biodiversity Intern to make an introduction. I started up last week. I studied Entomology at Cornell University for my bachelor’s degree and have been working primarily as a Curatorial Assistant at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University’s collection (ANSP) for the last 4 years since then.

I’m thrilled to begin work with a new collection. Specifically I’ll be working to digitalize the Syrphidae (hover fly) family and their hymenopteran models. I’m excited to join this new community of entomologists and see how the Frost Entomological Museum operates, handles the collection, digitalizes, etc., differently from ANSP. I also look forward to participating in museum outreach events.

What better way to kick off my time at the Frost Entomological Museum with the Penn State University Collection (PSUC) than to contribute my first specimen to the collection? I found that lucky specimen on the sidewalk immediately outside the museum doors. It is a beetle and almost completely dismembered (presumably by the ants I found it with). While it may not be an ideal specimen for studying beetle feet or antennae, I like to think that specimens that are naturally damaged add ecological value to a collection. For example, butterflies are sometimes found with their wings torn from bird attacks!

Despite its missing legs and ‘long horns’, I was able to sight ID the specimen as a longhorned beetle (Family: Cerambycidae) and then utilize available resources to identify it as Purpuricenus humeralis (Fabricius). For assistance with the identification, I credit BugguideTed C. MacRae (for his blog about discovering a new species within the genus), and the collection itself here at the Frost Museum.

Being new to Penn State, I wasn’t yet connected or familiar with the printer system so I hand wrote the locality and ID label (Sorry to whoever will be digitalizing & transcribing this specimen’s data in the future!) and placed it into the collection.

I didn’t notice until looking at the picture as I prepared it for this blog that nearly all the other specimens of these species in the collection were collected back in 1936 by S. W. Frost himself – the eponym of the museum!

A unit tray of Cerambycidae beetle s of the species Purpuricenus humeralis. A new specimen stands out - the white of the information label stands out among the faded labels of the neighboring beetles.

My first addition to the Penn State University Collection is surrounded by specimens collected by S. W. Frost himself! Photo by Isa Betancourt (CC BY 2.0) Click for source.


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4 Responses to An Inaugural Specimen

  1. Thanks for sharing and best of luck Isa! I went to PSU for my undergrad, so going to Happy Valley is like going home for me. I think you will love it there. Have you met Tom Bentley? He is an old friend from high school days, and researcher at FEM.

  2. Sam says:

    Love this! So interesting and informative.

  3. Godson Egwu says:

    Interesting! I know you would put your best into it.
    keep it up!

  4. Isabelle S Betancourt says:

    Thanks Matt! (Sorry for the incredibly late reply) It took me a while to get used to the blogging system here and to see your note! I have not met Tom Bently but I will keep an eye out for him while I’m here. I do like it here 🙂

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