Page 3 - McGuireCenterNewsletter2013

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Issue 7, April 2013
The McGuire Center’s role in agricultural entomology
James Hayden, Curator, Florida State Collection of Arthropods/McGuire Center ______________
Brown Oak Tortrix,
Archips xylosteana
Nun Moth,
Lymantria monacha
, Greece
Red-belted Clearwing Moth,
Synanthedon myopaeformis
, Germany
Olive-tree Pearl,
Palpita vitrealis
Garlic Moth Borer,
Dyspessa ulula
, France
Green Oak Tortrix,
Tortrix viridana
To detect, intercept and control plant pests that
threaten Florida’s native and commercially grown
plants and agricultural resources is the official
mission of the Division of Plant Industry, a subset
of the Florida Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services. The Florida State Collection
of Arthropods was created many years ago as a
reference for identification, repository for voucher
and type specimens, and basis for taxonomic research.
The collection has become a world-class resource
for taxonomists. The McGuire Center provided a
new home for the Lepidoptera of the Florida State
Collection of Arthropods, as well as its curators (first
John Heppner and now myself).
Careful curation of this collection is important
as a source of pride to researchers, but also because
identifications need to be reported in a matter of
days or even hours. We cannot, therefore, depend on
outside agencies to execute this function. Additionally,
the specimens sent to us for identification must be
easily retrievable. Lepidoptera, as the largest radiation
of metazoan plant feeders, are an important part of
the Florida State Collection of Arthropods. In other
words, there are plenty of pests among moths (and,
occasionally, butterflies) to warrant the importance of
a reference collection and specialists working with it.
Because systematics is a global science and Florida
has diverse agriculture and international commerce,
the Florida State Collection of Arthropods is global
in scope. On average, one new exotic arthropod or
pathogen is reported by the Division of Plant Industry
in Florida every month, so identification efforts must
be outward-looking and proactive.
The Florida State Collection of Arthropods has been
co-curated with McGuire Center collections since
the Center was built, allowing researchers to benefit
from both collections. Florida State Collection of
Arthropods and McGuire Center overseas Lepidoptera
collecting efforts have focused primarily on the
tropics, for example, the Caribbean surveys which
sample the regional fauna that sporadically immigrates
into Florida.
However, the McGuire Center’s collections of
temperate and subtropical Lepidoptera uniquely
complement the tropical holdings with the most
comprehensive accessions of European and Asian
moths that I have seen among North American
collections. The Center works with collectors who
sample faunas comprehensively, with the result
that Old World collections include economically
important species as well as rarities. Examples include
species (pine-tree lappet moths) from
Europe and Russia,
species such as the
Asian Gypsy Moth and the Nun Moth, and many
tortricid leaf rollers. They are typically well-prepared
and often already identified.
These reference specimens are useful not only for
Florida’s forestry and agriculture, but also are available
to any agency that wants to borrow specimens. Many
of these are the targets of ongoing regional and
national pest survey programs or eradication efforts.
The service extends beyond Florida also for species
with little economic importance. For example, I
recently confirmed a new record from the northern
U.S. by comparing specimens sent to the Center with
European holdings. The collections located at the
McGuire Center and its experts serve as a valuable
resource for species identification on a global scale.
More information about the agricultural
role of the collections is available online:
Cithaerias pireta pireta
, Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro, Panama
In the near future, the McGuire Center plans to
develop a broad program focusing on the evolution
and classification of Euptychiina butterflies, a group of
about 400 species of Neotropical forest and grassland
butterflies. Few other animal groups that are so
challenging to identify are as diverse, large, conspicuous
and commonly encountered by researchers, students
and naturalists. Hundreds of thousands of euptychiine
specimens in collections hold untapped data for studies
in evolution and conservation. However, we estimate
47 percent of specimens, about 14,000 specimens at the
McGuire Center alone, cannot be confidently identified.
We are seeking funding to bring a graduate student and
postdoc to the McGuire Center to work on the group,
in collaboration with colleagues in Brazil, Colombia,
Europe and the U.S.
For more information on Neotropical butterfly research
at the McGuire Center, visit