Research

Click here for information about visiting the collections for research.

Click here for a list of publications that cite Essig Museum specimens.


AQUATIC INSECTS

California Aquatic Insects (Dr. William Shepherd) – California has one of the most diverse aquatic insect faunas in all of North America. This is likely due to the intense dissection of the various mountain ranges in the state and the great north-to-south length of the state (Shepard 1993). Even with the known richness, many new species of aquatic insects are still being described from California.

ARANEAE

Spiders of remote Pacific Islands – Dr. Gillespie’s research interests involve patterns of diversification, adaptive radiation, and associated community assembly, focusing on spiders and insects on remote oceanic islands, in particular the Hawaiian Islands, but also French Polynesia, Micronesia and Fiji.

HYMENOPTERA

California Encyrtidae – Dr. Robert Zuparko (updated May 2018) – This site presents keys to morphospecies from most of the genera of Encyrtidae found in California. This is a work in progress, and is presented here to help further the discourse of Encyrtidae taxonomy in an informal manner. For many genera, I didn’t have access to all of the holotypes, and thus I relied heavily upon written descriptions of the named species. For this reason alone, these keys should be considered provisional.

The Published Names of TDA Cockerell – Dr. Robert Zuparko (updated 2007, 2014). Theodore Dru Alison Cockerell (1866-1948) was an indefatigable scientist, teacher, and writer, whose publishing career reputably started at age 12 and continued until his death at 81, and included over 9,000 new scientific (Latinized) names. Early in his career he focused mostly on gastropods (slugs and snails) and homopterans (scales and mealybugs), but the bulk of his names are for bees. These names are presented here in 4 parts: Part I includes the Hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants), Part II comprises all other Insecta, Part III includes all other taxa, and Part IV includes the unavailable names.

LEPIDOPTERA

Microlepidoptera of California – Jerry Powell and Yu-Feng Hsu. (2004). This is a compilation of taxonomic and distributional information for the microlepidoptera of California over a several year period through 1994, and updated through 2004 for all taxa. This list is a background to biological studies and local inventories by the authors and should be considered a work in progress. (website currently unavailable)

Lepidoptera (Moths and Butterflies) at Inverness Ridge in central coastal California and their recovery following a wildfire –  Jerry Powell (2004). In numbers of species, Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) make up the largest group of plant-feeding animals in North America. Caterpillars of nearly all species feed on plants, and most of them are specialists on one or a few kinds of plants. Therefore they are liable to be severely affected by wildfires, and secondarily, their parasites and predators, including birds, bats, lizards, and rodents, suffer losses of a major food resource. In October 1995, a wildfire swept over part of The Point Reyes National Seashore, burning more than 12,300 acres (5,000 hectares) of public and private land, following a fire-free period of several decades. I tracked survival and recolonization by moths and butterflies during the subsequent five seasons. I made daytime searches for adults and caterpillars approximately monthly from March through October and collected blacklight trap samples, mostly in May and September-October. More than 650 species of Lepidoptera have been recorded in the Inverness Ridge area, and about 375 of them were recorded during the post-fire survey, including larvae of 31% of them. Plants in a Bishop pine forest higher on the ridge, where the fire was most intense, accumulated their caterpillar faunas slowly, while Lepidoptera feeding on plants typical of riparian woods in the lower canyons reestablished sooner and more completely. Recolonization varied markedly among different plant species, and the species richness gradually increased, in marked contrast to generalizations about effects of fire on arthropods derived from fire management of grasslands. View as PDF

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) of Brooks Island, California – Jerry Powell (2005). This compilation summarizes records of about 220 species of Lepidoptera (198-202 moths, 20 butterflies), members of 34 families, from Brooks Island. Observations were made by Y.-F. Hsu, M. McIntosh, and J. Powell during 19 daytime visits of 1.5 to 6.0 hours, in February, March, April, May, June, September, October, and November in 1993-97, including 13 nights light trapping in February-March and September-November. Larvae or larval mines were recorded for 66 species (31%), including 48% of the Microlepidoptera, adults only for the remainder. About 167 of the species (80%) are native insects, using native plants as larval foods or are detritivores, and several of the remainder are native insects that depend upon host plants that certainly or probably are not native on the island (e.g., Cupressus, Ceanothus). The diversity and abundance of native plants in the flora (ca 92 species), and the proportion new to the Lepidoptera inventory among species observed during 1996 (ca. 24% in March; 10% in September) suggest that additional moth species are to be expected, particularly in winter-early spring and in May-August when we did not make nocturnal samples. Thorough inventory would involve numerous visits in all seasons and would depend in part on more comprehensive nocturnal sampling by ultraviolet lights. Recognition of vagrant individuals from the mainland poses a problem to an inventory of flying insects found on Brooks Island, particularly those recorded only by light traps. View as PDF

Lepidoptera of Albany Hill, Alameda Co., California – Jerry Powell (1999). The list summarizes observations of Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) at Albany Hill, Alameda Co., California, during 1995-1999. Data originate from about 75 daytime and crepuscular visits of 0.5 to 3.5 hrs, in all months of the year. All of the butterfly species and some of the moths were recorded by Robert L. Langston, most of the moth species and their larval host plants by Jerry A. Powell. View as PDF

Annotated list of Utah tortricid moths: A provisional compilation – Jerry Powell (2006). Microlepidoptera have been relatively neglected in Utah compared to several other western states. During the early part of the descriptive era for western Nearctic micros, 1879-1929, Colorado and California attracted more visitors who collected small moths. California, British Columbia, and Washington had resident microlepidopterists through parts of the 1880s to early 20th century, and there have been greater efforts by visiting collectors in Arizona in recent decades than has been true for Utah. This list is compiled from publications and several taxonomic papers cited in the individual species accounts, and from previously unpublished specimen records from several museums. I have not made a systematic search of the literature, and no doubt there are additional published records. I made 11 brief visits to Utah, between late May and September, 1965 to 2006, several times accompanied by Liz Randal, David Powell, John DeBenedictis, or Felix Sperling. We collected moths on about 35 dates in 14 counties, primarily in the Wasatch Range and in the south, Garfield, Kane, Piute, and Washington counties. View as PDF

Lepidoptera Recorded on Santa Catalina Island – Jerry Powell (2004, revised 2012). History of the lepidoptera inventory on Santa Catalina Island, California, and list of species. This list has been compiled during the past 45 years from several sources: 1) collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History (LACM) and Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (SBMNH) at several intervals; 2) the collection at Peabody Museum, Yale University, in 1978 and 1997; and 3) the Smithsonian Institution (USNM) in July 2004, to record data from specimens collected by Don Meadows, who worked on Catalina during 1927-1934, then sold his pyraloids and macro moth collections to the Smithsonian in 1950 (His microlepidoptera went to the LACM); 4) major collections accumulated during visits by my students and me (March-April 1969, May 1978, December 1979, Sept. 2004, March 2011). 5) records by S. Bennett, J. Donahue, G. Gorelick, J. Hogue, R. Leuschner, S. E. Miller, and C. Nagano, and others during short-term visits, 1978-1981 (LACM, SBMNH). View as PDF