June

Box of Weevils named by Francis Pascoe

Box of Weevils named by Francis Pascoe

Common name: Beetles

Natural History Museum, London, UK

EMu user since 2002

Box of Weevils named by Francis PascoeFrancis Pascoe was a prolific describer of beetles, and between 1850 and his death gave names to  over 5000 species of these insects previously unknown to science. The beetles in the image of part of Pascoe’s collection are all members of the superfamily Curculionoidea (weevils) and come from countries all over the world. This is one of the largest beetle groups, with more than 65,000 different species known. The vast majority feed on plants, both as larvae and as adults, and include serious crop and forestry pests, as  well as species now used as biocontrol agents. The mouth is often at the end of an elongation of the head, the ‘rostrum’, and the female weevil can use this to drill holes in plants, into which she lays her eggs. Some species are coloured to blend into the background on which they sit, or may mimic spiders, flies, ticks or even bird-droppings to escape being eaten by predators.

The beetle specimens in the image are not just ornamental. All are used for reference and some are the type of the species (the very specimen used by Pascoe when he described the species, and the one to which all other identifications of specimens must relate). The 170 specimens in this box therefore have an international importance. They are now housed in more modern pest-proof collection draws in the Natural History Museum, London, along with the rest of Pascoe’s Collection as part of the UK’s National Collection. Museum staff and researchers from other countries use this collection as a research tool to answer questions on species identity and which name to use, to benefit biologists, agriculturalists, foresters and many others around the world.

Acknowledgements: Department of Entomology, The Natural History Museum, London