A Catchy Title*? - Department of Entomology

Celebrating 125 Years of Entomology
at the University of Nebraska
A Work in Progress
This presentation documents only a small part of the rich history
of entomology at the University of Nebraska –
some of the people and events associated
with the building now known as Entomology Hall.
We plan to expand this documentary in the future,
to include teaching activities, changes in research emphases,
and research and extension activities
conducted “out-state” over the years.
We hope you enjoy this brief history.
Early Work
Samuel Aughey
Professor of
Natural Science,
University of
Investigated the
Rocky Mountain
locust, the chinch
bug, and other
pests (1871)
…the Daily State Journal of
Lincoln on May 30, 1877,
published an open letter
from Samuel Aughey to
Nebraska farmers.
…[He] began by pointing
out the role played by
natural predators such as
birds and by parasites,
which reduced substantially
the number of locusts.
Aughey believed the
surviving grasshoppers
could be controlled by
determined human effort.
"…Fortunately, it is now only a question as to which of all the
methods proposed is the best, since the conviction is becoming
more and more general that if the destruction of the locusts is
commenced early in the season, no farmer needs to lose his crops
from them.”
University of Nebraska
Experiment Station
1887 – Conway McMillan, a
botanist, appointed as 1st Station
entomologist. Marks the first
organized work in entomology in
1888 – McMillan publishes report,
Twenty-two Common Insects of
Nebraska, listing many of the
state’s important pests
1888 – leaves Nebraska for the
University of Minnesota, where he
serves as Professor of Botany
April 1888 – Lawrence A. Bruner
appointed Station Entomologist
Bruner first reports on grasshopper species in
Nebraska in an 1876 paper in Canadian
He continues to write reports on Nebraska insects for
the United States Entomological Commission and the
Division of Entomology USDA (1881 – 1894).
In 1893, the professor of entomology is given
additional duties and the title “Acting State
First Home:
“The entomologist was
first housed or located
between two museum
cases in the west
room of the north wing
of University Hall.”
“[For several years] one room serves as lecture room, students’
laboratory, library, research laboratory and professor’s private office;
it also contained the collection of insects which…had begun to assume
fair proportions.”
--Lawrence Bruner
What’s in a name?
1895 – Department of Entomology and Ornithology established
1906 – Renamed Department of Systematic and Economic
Entomology. Ornithology transferred to Zoology
c. 1911 – Renamed Department of Entomology
Bruner serves as Chairman until 1919.
A Home of Their Own
In 1912, the Plant Industry Building is built to house Entomology
and other departments.
Total cost: $97,500 ($85,000 in general construction costs
and $12,500 for fixtures)
“I am confident that this building is dedicated to practical science in its largest sense;
a practice based on science, and a science that illuminates and extends practice. And
beneath it all is that finest of all impulses, the impulse to serve the community that
has expressed its confidence in giving this building, and that has a right to expect
large things.”
John M. Coulter, Practical Science (June 10, 1913)
October 1917 - First extension work begins. Ceases a year later when the
extension entomologist, C. E. Mickel, leaves the University.
1918 - Extensive grasshopper damage in western Nebraska, an estimated $1.5
million loss.
1919 - Lawrence Bruner resigns as Chairman of the Department of Entomology.
Basement floor plan,
Plant Industry Building
1924 – Observation of
Hessian fly safe dates
saves wheat growers
thousands of dollars
1927 – 1st Cooperative
Project between the
Entomology and Plant
Pathology Departments
1919 – Myron H. Swenk
becomes the second
Chairman, serving until his
death in 1941.
Orlando S. Bare - organizes the extension program in entomology in 1929.
1936 & 1937
Worst grasshopper infestations since pioneer days. In 1937,
78,000 Nebraska farmers use more than 16,000 tons of bait composed of
dry bran, arsenicals, and water.
First floor plan,
Plant Industry Building
H. Douglas Tate serves as Chairman during the World War II years (1941-1946).
Heaviest potato leafhopper infestation on record on potatoes in
eastern & central Nebraska
Western corn rootworms more numerous & serious in central Nebraska
First record of European corn borer in state, near Lincoln
Second floor plan,
Plant Industry Building
Milestones in early pest control
1941 – Control of potato insects: insecticidal dusts as effective as high-pressure
spray applications
1942 – Chinch bug barrier: small line of 2-4 dinitro-ortho-cresol dust in a shallow
1944 – DDT most promising insecticide for control of potato insects in Nebraska
1945 – First aerial applications of insecticides in Nebraska. DDT applied to
potatoes in the western part of the state
1946 – Grasshopper control in western Nebraska: benzene hexachloride dust or
“…the whole policy of the department changed during this period (1941-1946).
Previously it had appeared to be primarily taxonomy at one end and practical
control at the other with nothing in between.
Tate started the laboratory to permit physiological [and toxicological] studies and he
insisted on the need for an insectary and labs.”
--R.W. Goss (UNL plant pathologist), as told to Roscoe E. Hill
Third floor plan,
Plant Industry Building
Ephriam Hixson chairs the Department (1946-1950)
European corn borer continues to spread across Nebraska:
1946 – 6 counties infested
1947 – 27 counties
1948 – 48 counties
1949 – 66 counties (estimated losses of $11.4 million)
Entomology is made a Division of the University of Nebraska’s State Museum,
providing more continuous care of the insect collections.
Roscoe E. Hill, Chairman (1950-1966)
 Insect-plant virus transmission research – wheat streak mosaic
 European corn borer research begins
 Corn rootworms cause heavy losses – research efforts increased
 1953 – New Insectary Building completed
 1954 – Grasshoppers cause $28 million losses statewide
 1958 – Department approved to offer Ph.D. degree with major in Entomology
 1963 – Building and 20 acres of land at the University’s Field Laboratory in
Entomology’s Chair/Heads (1966 – Present)
We plan to document additional departmental history during the tenures of :
EARLE S. RAUN, Chair (1966-1970)
E. A. DICKASON, Head (1970-1984)
Z. B. MAYO, Interim Head (1999)
ROGER E. GOLD, Head (1985-1988)
Z. B. MAYO, Interim Head (1988-1989)
Z. B. MAYO, Head (2000-2005)
JOHN E. FOSTER, Head (1990-1993)
Z. B. MAYO, Interim Head (1993-1995)
GARY J. BREWER, Head (2006- )
Unplanned Renovations
August 1975
The Plant Industry Building catches fire.
Damages are so substantial that
researchers are relocated.
After the fire, the Plant Pathology Dept.
moves from Plant Industry to the Plant
Sciences Building.
Unplanned Renovations
Restoration of the Plant Industry Building
costs more than $600,000.
Main Office damages
Damage, Extension area
A Planned Renovation (2010-2012)
New Spaces “to do large things”
Welcome to
Entomology Hall!
Timeline and Narrative: Hill, R.E. 1969. “Some Historical Hi-Lights of Nebraska Entomology.” Unpublished.
Slide 1: Postcard image, UNL Dept. of Entomology
Slide 2: Monarch image, Canadian Wildlife Federation (http://cwf-fcf.org)
Slide 3: Photo of Samuel Aughey found at http://nebraskastudies.org. Quote from Samuel Aughey, Nebraska
State Historical Society (http://www.nebraskahistory.org/publish/publicat/timeline/augheysamuel.htm). Photo of grasshopper plague, opening illustration of “Grasshoppered: America’s
Response to the 1874 Rocky Mountain Locust Invasion” by Alexandra M. Wagner, Nebraska
History (Winter 2008)
Slide 4: Bruner images, Lawrence A. Bruner Collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of
Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries
Slide 5: Background scan, Canadian Entomologist, Vol. 8 (1876), pp.123-125
Slide 6, 7: Photo of University Hall, Buildings and Grounds Collection, Archives & Special Collections,
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries
Slide 8: Original building plans, UNL Dept. of Entomology
Slide 9: Photo of Plant Industry Building & 1913 Dedication Program, Buildings and Grounds Collection,
Archives & Special Collections, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries
Slide 10: Original building plans, UNL Dept. of Entomology
Slide 11: Photo of Myron Swenk & publication images, Biographical and Bibliographical Collection, Archives &
Special Collections, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries
Slides 12, 13: Original building plans, UNL Dept. of Entomology
Slide 14: DDT structure, Wikipedia
Slide 15: Original building plans, UNL Dept. of Entomology
Slide 16: European corn larva, UNL Dept. of Entomology
Slide 17: Corn rootworm beetles, IANR publications
Slide 18: Monarch image, Canadian Wildlife Federation (http://cwf-fcf.org)
Slide 19, 20, 21, 22: UNL Dept. of Entomology

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