Did you know that the Frost Entomological Museum cares for a world class slide collection? Between K. C. Kim’s large Anoplura collection (>15,000 slides) and J. O. Pepper’s aphids (>49,000 slides; fifth largest in North America!), plus the other collections we have from Easton (Siphonaptera) and Guyton (more aphids), we have the means to do some serious research on parasites, host-plant interactions and global warming, taxonomy, morphology, and myriad other areas. At least we would if we could upgrade our slide storage and digitize these specimens.
Several years ago the Frost was awarded a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation that allowed us, in part, to digitize the Kim collection of sucking lice and move them from old slide boxes to a fancy new, purpose-built microslide cabinet. That process is nearly complete, with the slide scans now going online, and the transformation has been phenomenal. Here’s the old lice collection storage:
And here is the new hotness. All slides housed in an incredibly secure and easy-to-use microslide cabinet:
Now we are gearing up to reorganize, digitize, and rehouse the rest of our slide collection, which are almost all aphids. Just look at this pristine slide preparation by John Pepper:
Many of his slides are even richer in data, with information about how the aphids looked when they were alive and what plants they were feeding on at the time. Pepper often visited the same localities each year, as well, so we have this incredible time series over something like 50 years! Unfortunately they are housed in old wooden boxes, many of which look like this:
Crowded together and held in place by wood. The Guyton collection of aphids is even worse. Check out this hodgepodge:
Yikes! Some boxes are missing their hinges, while others are missing the latch that holds the halves together. Other boxes are missing both! Even some of the newer slide boxes are threats to the slide collection. How would you open this box, for example:
It looks right … to me, anyway. Shouldn’t the latch open upwards, so as not to hit the table?
Jiminy crickets! It was upside down?! It shouldn’t take an entomologist to realize these conditions threaten the slide-mounted specimens. We are working on a solution that will hopefully result in their transfer to new storage AND also in the digitization of this amazing collection. It’s our next big project, and I look forward to posting updates as we go!