The Robert S. Lane Tabanid and Tick Collection

Robert (Bob) Lane’s love affair with entomology and natural history began as a young boy in Los Angeles when he first observed a mourning cloak butterfly on the wing.  He decided at once to pursue entomology as a hobby, along with anything else that crawled, ran, flew, bit or stung in the nearby Baldwin Hills.  Years later, Bob received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley (UCB), then a master’s degree in biology from San Francisco State College, and eventually a doctoral degree in medical entomology from UCB.  His dissertation was titled “The Biology and Taxonomy of Immature Tabanidae from Mendocino County, California, with an Autecological Study of Chrysops hirsuticallus Philip (Diptera: Tabanidae).”  Bob had the good fortune of having John Anderson as his major professor, and Jerry Powell and Don Erman as the other distinguished members of his doctoral committee.  His research career on Tabanidae spanned 1970 to 1989, and the resultant publications included a monograph on California Tabanidae that was co-authored with Woodrow Middlekauff in 1980.  

In 1974, Bob undertook his second career pathway studying the biology of ticks and the eco-epidemiology and prevention of tick-borne disease agents while employed as a public health biologist at the California Department of Health Services.  A decade later, he joined the faculty in the Department of Entomological Sciences at UCB as a medical entomologist.  After retiring in 2010, Bob has remained active professionally as professor of the graduate school and a professor emeritus.  The tick-borne diseases he and his numerous co-workers have investigated include Borrelia miyamotoi disease, Colorado tick fever, human anaplasmosis, human babesiosis, Pacific Coast tick fever, relapsing fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis, tularemia, and particularly Lyme disease (LD).  Findings emanating from those studies have illuminated some of the basic transmission cycles of, and human risk factors for, spotted fever group rickettsiae, LD group spirochetes, and other human pathogens in the far-western United States and Europe.

The Collections

Tabanidae. Bob donated his entire collection of larval, pupal and adult tabanid species, which included 1,475 pinned adults and more than 1,100 vials of larvae, larval exuviae and pupal skins to the Essig Museum in 2014.  Among the 46 species represented are 14 species of tabanid immatures originally described by Bob. The habits and bionomics of these species are detailed in the 1980 Bulletin of the California Insect Survey volume 22 and subsequent publications.

Ticks. After retiring, Bob gifted his tick collection to the Essig Museum on a piecemeal basis beginning in 2013,  Although the vast majority of the material was collected by Bob and his research team since the 1980s, it also includes specimens from the personal collection of his venerable predecessor, Deane P. Furman.  Taken together, the collection is estimated conservatively to comprise well over 5,000 specimens of alcohol-preserved and more than 3,000 slide-mounted argasid (soft) and ixodid (hard) ticks representing approximately 63 species in 9 genera (Argas, Ornithodoros, Otobius, Amblyomma, Dermacentor, Haemaphysalis, Ixodes, Ornithodoros, Rhipicephalus). 

The Essig Museum tick collection represents the most comprehensive collection of its kind in western North America.  As a sidelight, these ticks were collected while they quested for vertebrate hosts on the ground, leaf litter or low vegetation or by removing them from wildlife, domestic animals or humans.  Perhaps the most intriguing of the lot is Ixodes jellisoni, a rare tick that parasitizes various rodents.  It is one of the few obligatorily parthenogenetic ticks discovered worldwide out of roughly 900 species described globally so far.

Selected Bibliography


Lane, R.S. 1975. Immatures of some Tabanidae (Diptera) from Mendocino County, Calif.  Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 68:803-819.

Lane, R.S. and Anderson, J.R. 1976. Extracting larvae of Chrysops hirsuticallus (Diptera: Tabanidae) from soil: efficiency of two methods.  Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 69:854-856.

Middlekauff, W.W. and Lane, R.S. 1980. Adult and immature Tabanidae (Diptera) of California.  Bull. Calif. Insect Survey 22:1-99.  

Lane, R.S. and Anderson, J.R.  1982.  The reproductive life history and blood meal sources of Chrysops hirsuticallus (Diptera: Tabanidae). J. Med. Entomol. 19:157-163.

Lane, R.S., Anderson, J.R., and Philip, C.B.  1983.  Biology of autogenous horse flies native to coastal California: Apatolestes actites (Diptera: Tabanidae). Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 76:559-571.

Arnaud, P.H., Jr. and Lane, R.S. (eds.).  1985.  Contributions to the study of Tabanidae (Diptera) in honor of Cornelius Becker Philip. Myia 3:1-714.


Lane, R.S., Emmons, R.W., Dondero, D.V., and Nelson, B.C. 1981. Ecology of tick-borne agents in California.  I.  Spotted fever group rickettsiae. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 30:239-252.

Lane, R.S., Burgdorfer, W., Hayes, S.F., and Barbour, A.G.  1985.  Isolation of a spirochete from the soft tick, Ornithodoros coriaceus: a possible agent of epizootic bovine abortion. Science 230:85-87.

Lane, R.S., Piesman, J., and Burgdorfer, W.  1991.  Lyme borreliosis:  relation of its causative agent to its vectors and hosts in North America and Europe.  Annu. Rev. Entomol. 36:587-609.

Brown, R.N. and Lane, R.S.  1992.  Lyme disease in California:  a novel enzootic transmission cycle of Borrelia burgdorferiScience 256:1439-1442.

Lane, R.S. and Quistad, G. B.  1998.  Borreliacidal factor in the blood of the western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis).   J. Parasitol. 84:29-34.

Lane, R.S., Peavey, C.A., Padgett, K.A., and Hendson, M.  1999.  Life history of Ixodes (Ixodes) jellisoni (Acari: Ixodidae) and its vector competence for Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato. J. Med. Entomol. 36:329-340

Gray, J.S., Kahl, O., Lane, R.S. and Stanek, G.  2002.  Lyme borreliosis:  Biology, epidemiology and control. CABI Publishing, Oxon, United Kingdom.  347 pp. 

Eisen, R. J., Lane, R. S., Fritz, C. L, and Eisen, L.  2006.  Spatial patterns of Lyme disease risk in California based on disease incidence data and modeling of vector-tick exposure. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 75:669-676.

Girard, Y. A., Fedorova, N., and Lane, R. S. 2011. Genetic diversity of Borrelia burgdorferi and detection of B. bissettii-like DNA in serum of north-coastal California residents.  J. Clin. Microbiol.  49:945-954.

Wierzbicka, A., Rączka, Skorupski, M., Michalik, J., Lane, R. S.  2016.  Human behaviors elevating the risk of exposure to Ixodes ricinus larvae and nymphs in two types of lowland coniferous forests in west-central Poland.  Ticks Tick-Borne Dis. 7:1180-1185.

Bob Lane conducting a tick drag in an oak woodland.