Beauty and the Bug

At MU's Enns Entomology Museum, insects get top billing.
Photos by Rob Hill

Butterflies and caterpillars, above these is a large Blue Morpho butterfly. Title Graphic: Beauty and the Bug Subhead: At MU’s Enns Entomology Museum, insects get top billing.
Sidebar bug images

Caterpillar Killer Tucked away behind a nondescript door in MU's sprawling Agriculture Building, the modest suite housing the Enns Entomology Museum is, perhaps understandably, seldom crowded with visitors. But just a cursory glance at its collections should convince even the most insect-averse observers that these rooms are a must-see.

Rows of finely crafted display cases display bugs of every conceivable size and shape, while hundreds of cabinet drawers conceal some of the 6 million specimens collected during the museum's more than 130-year history.

The collection's first curator was the now-legendary entomologist Charles Valentine Riley, the man who, along with French botanist Jules Èmile Planchon, showed the vigneron how to defeat the aphid then feasting on Europe's wine-grape vines. For his efforts, Valentine was awarded the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.

Today's curator, Bob Sites, a professor of entomology at MU, is also among the world's most celebrated insect experts. As detailed in a feature story in Illumination's Fall 2007 issue, Sites has for years traveled the globe documenting insect life in remote "biodiversity hotspots," places that represent some of the "richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on earth."

You can see additional specimens representing the collecting work of Riley, Sites and their colleagues by visiting Illumination's website. A visit to the facility is even better. The museum's hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, holidays excepted. Groups can arrange tours by calling Collections Manager Kristen Simpson at (573) 882-2410.

Bug images that have related multimedia linked to them Link to multimedia piece about the Periodical Cicada Link to a multimedia piece about the Death's Head Moth Link to multimedia piece about the Atlas Moth Link to multimedia piece about the Rhinoceros or Elephant Beetle. Link to multimedia piece about the Cecropia Moth Transcript of all multimedia presentations in this group

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Reader Comments

Forrest E. St. Aubin, BCE wrote on February 7, 2012

I was one of Doc Enns' students who was detailed to working in the museum from January 1957 until January 1960. The work was fascinating and Wilbur became a lifelong friend.

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