From metallic beetles to iridescent butterflies, the Bug Closet at the University of Central Florida gives students a chance to get up close to many of these critters.
Erin Barbeau, outreach coordinator for the Bug Closet, is one of those students. Though UCF does not offer an entomology degree, as a senior biology major Barbeau has had the chance to learn the science firsthand.
“Just in general I have learned so much from insects from working here,” Barbeau said. “I knew a lot before but now I know even more.”
Home to over half a million insects, the Bug Closet has helped Barbeau prepare to be an environmental educator in the future, where she plans to share her knowledge with children.
While she usually works with Lepidoptera, or butterflies and moths, the Bug Closet houses nine different orders of insects. The largest of these orders is hymenoptera—the order of wasps, ants and bees.
The majority of the preserved insects are also from the state, with many found in Central Florida.
Graduate student Brian Silverman has been working at the bug closet for over four years. He specializes in “true bugs” or Heteroptera, which include insects like stink bugs and water bugs. He said that working at the Bug Closet has expanded his love of insects.
“The way that it represents so much diversity in the world of insects is really sort of eye-opening,” Silverman said.
Barbeau said that many students at UCF don’t know the Bug Closet exists, but even so their collection grows almost daily due to people coming by and dropping off cool specimens that they have found.
As a student helping to grow the collection, Barbeau accepts them all.
Top Five Facts about the UCF Bug Closet
• There are a total of 557,834 specimens databased.
• There are 453 different insect families in the collection.
• 70 percent of the collection is Hymenoptera (wasps, ants and bees).
• 19 percent of the collection is Coleoptera (beetles).
• 75 percent of the specimens are from Florida.
For more information, visit the UCF Bug Closet's website.
Originally published March 25