"we will slowly lose the amateur entomologists"

Mike Quinn mqnature at hiline.net
Sun Jun 27 00:51:13 EDT 1999

>Mike Quinn wrote:
>> It's my contention that the numbers of students persuing professional
>> careers in entomology would have flattened out or dropped off with or
>> without the increased interest in entomology by amateurs. The jobs just
>> aren't out there due primarily to an ever increasing emphasis on molecular
>> studies and the current march towards transgenic crops.
>Paul C. Wrote:
>I disagree. I do not think the driving force behind the rise in entomology
>majors in the late 1960's and 70's was due to a perception of improving
>employment opportunities for entomologists.  I feel it was driven by
>increasing numbers of kids who developed a keen interest in insects,
>science and research (mainly in species of butterflies and moths that have
>little or no economic importance) at an early age and wished to pursue
>that interest into adulthood regardless of employment prospects.  I feel
>that interest would have been dampened if the kids and teenagers of the
>60's and 70's had been deprived of the opportunity to collect butterflies,
>moths and other insects to their hearts delight.
>Paul Cherubini

There's a bit of hand waving going on with little actual data being
provided here. I can only speak about my experiences at Texas A&M, which I
believe has the second largest department of entomology in the US. I am not
aware of a single graduate student that conducted research on butterflies
or moths at Texas A&M during the 1990's. Also, not a single undergraduate
was particularly interested in butterflies or moths during that same time.
I don't know if there was ever a Lepidopterist on staff at TAMU. The
handful of hard core field entomologists that I knew were primarily
interested in Neuroptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera or aquatic insects. The
majority of the students, both grad and undergrad, did not appear to relish
making their collections. In our 2 semester insect systematics course, only
2 lectures were devoted to Lepidoptera. Basically, Texas A&M is not what
you'd call "butterfly friendly." However, our rival, University of Texas at
Austin ("t.u."), while not having an entomology department, has a
lepidopterist (Larry Gilbert) as the head of their biology department. A
final point, I believe that most of the incoming graduate students at TAMU
do not have undergraduate degrees in entomology.

In short, of the very few students that I went to school with who got into
entomology because of an unfettered love of collecting, none were

Mike Quinn, Donna, TX

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