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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fernald Hall

I heard that there was an extensive bug collection in Fernald Hall, so I decided to walk over to take a look.  I didn't call anyone in advance, just bopped over to see if I could find something.  The insect collection is a part of the larger Natural History Collection that exists on campus.  While much of the Natural History Collection is located in Morill, the insects can be found in Fernald Hall.

The Entomology department falls under the Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences department on campus.  Its main location is Fernald Hall.  All of the programs that fall under Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences tie closely with the agricultural base that the University of Massachusetts Amherst has as its roots (no pun intended).  As a result, this is one of the oldest academic areas of the University.  In fact, the first course in Entomology was taught in 1868!  C.H. Fernald was appointed to the faculty in 1886 and his son later worked in the same department (for which the building was named).  These stately individuals can be seen in the picture to the right.

Along with a pretty old-school looking lecture, there are multiple research labs in the building, department member offices, and the insect collection.  I was able to quickly peek into the area where most of the insects are stored.  A helpful individual informed me that there were hundreds of thousands of insects labeled and tucked away in their respective drawers.  Some poor soul has the task of cataloging the specimens, its a job that appears to be tedious at best.

The "museum" is in a hall upstairs.  There are live insects, and specimens that have been preserved and labeled.  They have been arranged by category, and are impressive in their cases.  It was difficult to take pictures with the glare of the overhead lights on the glass, but I managed to get some good shots.  There were also live insects in their respective terrariums.  There were two different types of cockroaches (both very large), stick bugs, a scorpion, two different types of black beetles and a tarantula.  They were also hard to get pictures of, but here's my best attempt at a cave cockroach.

I'll be trying to schedule a formal tour for the guides sometime soon!

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