Scientific Expeditions

Other collectors and naturalists participated in or led the organized scientific or biological expeditions that are a very important part of the growth of entomological science in Latin America. These were often sponsored by governments or agencies and included multiple investigators, each with specialized assignments, and were much more elaborate than the simple forays of individuals. Primary examples are numerous and date from the early eighteenth century.

Antonio de Ulloa [1716-1795] was a military man appointed as Spanish crown representative to the French Académie de Science Expedition to South America in

Figure 1.4 Claudio Gay, bom in France but first trained biologist to make a major contribution to Latin American entomology through his work in Chile. (From portrait in Universidad de Chile; courtesy of José Valencia)

1735-1746 with La Condamine to measure the length of an arc of the meridian at the equator. His Noticias Americanas (1772) contained specific mentions of equatorial insect life, including an account of a locust plague. The monumental expedition of the times, however, must be that of Baron Alexander von Humboldt [1769-1859] and Aimé Bonpland [1773-1858] to explore northern South America and Mexico in 1799-1804. Their extensive insect collections were researched by Latreille in Europe (Papavero 1971, chap. 4).

Other exemplary expeditions that furthered entomology in Latin America were several sea voyages with frequent land stops for collecting, such as the expeditions of the French vessel La Coquille ( 1822— 1823), the Swedish Engentes (1851-1852), and the Austrian Novara (1857-1859). Of special interest also were the Hamburger Siidperu Expedition in 1936 (Titschack 1951-1954) and the Machris Brazilian Expedition of 1956 (entomologist F. Truxal; Delacour 1957). A modern example is the report of entomological results of the 1978-79 Danish Expedition to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego (Madsen et al. 1980).

Later came those expeditions undertaken by investigators trained in biology or zoology who emphasized work with insects and who conducted studies on their own collections. Three categories of investigators may be recognized: visiting, expatriate, and native.

Visiting Biologists and Zoologists

Perhaps the first biologist to produce significant entomological results from his own excursions in Latin America was Claudio Gay [1800-1873] (fig. 1.4), an ambitious French traveler who began to work with Chilean insects as early as 1836. Later, he published many research papers, his most important being Historia Física y Política de Chile (arthropod portions, 1849-1852).

About the same time, Charles Darwin

Figure 1.4 Claudio Gay, bom in France but first trained biologist to make a major contribution to Latin American entomology through his work in Chile. (From portrait in Universidad de Chile; courtesy of José Valencia)

[1809-1882] made his epic global voyage that included major sojourns in South America. He was inclined toward entomology and gained some insights into his revolutionary theory of natural selection from observations of South American insects. In the initial sentences of his introduction to the Origin of Species ( 1859), he states, "When on board H.M.S. 'Beagle,' as naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts in the distribution of the organic beings inhabiting South America . . . [which] throw some light on the origin of species." Some of these facts concerned the distribution of insects and insect examples of sexual selection (e.g., the Chilean stag beetle, Chiasognathus) much elaborated in his later Descent of Man (1871).

Also celebrated among itinerant biologists of this period was Henry Waller Bates [1825-1892] (fig. 1.5). He spent eleven years on the Amazon and its tributaries

Figure 1.5 Henry Walter Bates, first entomologist explorer of the Amazon Valley in the mid-1800s. (Frontispiece from The Naturalist on the River Amazons, John Murray, London, 1892)

(1848-1859) and collected some 14,000 specimens, including 8,000 species new to science. For the first five years of his travels, he was accompanied by Alfred Russel Wallace [1823-1913], who was also an avid collector but who chose to continue his studies in the Malay Archipelago where he produced his own theory of natural selection paralleling Darwin's. Wallace recounts his South American experiences in A Narrative of Travels on the Amazon and. Rio Negro (1853); Bates recounts his in a later parallel work, The Naturalist on the River Amazons (1892). Bates collected, but he also observed and analyzed, producing many papers on Neotropical Coleoptera. The work that distinguished him as an entomologist was his Contributions to an Insect Fauna of the Amazon Valley, Lepidoptera: Heli-conidae, published in 1862 (Moon 1976).

The period of the early to mid-1800s was a time of independence for most of the countries of Latin America and establishment of national universities, museums, and other learned institutions, with departments paying attention to terrestrial arthropod life forms. Many scholars from Europe emigrated to Latin America. Biology came of age, and considerable progress was made in the academic phases of entomology, primarily insect systematics. But agricultural and medical entomology, knowledge of pesticides, and the role of insects as vectors of disease awaited the threshold of the twentieth century.

Other visiting biologists of note were William Beebe [1877-1962], who was gifted with an extraordinary ability of expression and published on many aspects of Neotropical insect biology, for example, High Jungle (1949) (Berra 1977), and A. S. Calvert, who produced works on Costa Rican insects, including the book, written with his wife, A Year of Costa Rican Natural History (1917).

Expatriate Biologists

A special group of early biologists who worked on insects were expatriates. They were trained in Europe or North America but were drawn to the Neotropics by its exotic and poorly known insect life. They brought with them their education from Western schools and did not merely travel to the New World but spent the rest of their days in their adopted homes. Deserving special mention in this category is Fritz Müller [1822-1897], born in Germany, who settled in Blumenau, Santa Catarina, Brazil, in 1852. He was a correspondent of Darwin and is best known for his discovery of the type of mimicry named after him.

Another outstanding expatriate biologist was German-born Hermann Burmeister [1807-1892]. After a sojourn in Brazil (1850), he settled in Argentina and became the director of the natural history museum in Buenos Aires and published many important entomological papers. A more mod ern example is Felix Woytkowski [1892-1966], who migrated from his native Poland to Peru in 1929. There he collected more than a thousand insect species new to science (Woytkowski 1978). Other notable expatriate entomologists were Hermann von Ihering [1850-1930], who emigrated from Germany to Brazil, Emilio Goeldi [1859-1917], Switzerland to Brazil, Adolfo Lutz [1855-1940], Germany to Brazil, Paul Biolley [1862-1909], Switzerland to Costa Rica, and Henri Pittier [1857-1950], Switzerland to Costa Rica.

Native Zoologists

The first full-fledged biologist specializing in insects who was born in Latin America was Cuban Felipe Poey [1799-1891] (fig. 1.6). He left his birthplace, La Habana, to study in France but returned to produce works in entomology in his own land, especially on Lepidoptera (Centuria de Lepi-

Figure 1.6 Felipe Poey, first native-born Latin American entomologist. (From Memorias de la Sociedad Cubana de Historia Natural, 1, facing p. 8, 1915)

dopleros de Cuba, 1847). Clodomiro Picado [1887-1944] also left for study in France, completing his doctoral dissertation on Neotropical bromeliad communities. He returned to his native Costa Rica to become its most famous biologist. The Argentinian Arribalzaga brothers, Felix [1854-1894] and Enrique [1856-1935], were educated in their homeland where they carried out extensive studies on insect biology and taxonomy, especially on Diptera.

The Entomologists

By reason of their generalized training, the biologists and zoologists could not be considered entomologists in the strict sense. But because of their scientific abilities, interest, and emphasis on investigation and publication, the title could be logically bestowed on them.

Full curricula in the discipline of entomology were not offered in universities until the very late nineteenth century, so professionals in the study of insect biology are virtually all twentieth-century products. Their numbers now range in the thousands. Who they are and the nature of their accomplishments are best appreciated by reference to the modern literature and bibliographies such as the Zoological Record, Parts lnsecta, Arachnida, and Myri-apoda.

The amateur entomologist deserves some special recognition here. An active cadre of educated and often highly sophisticated individuals exists who find pleasure in the study of insects. Most are collectors, perhaps the majority working with showy insects like butterflies and beetles, but not always merely for the sake of accumulating specimens. Many take advantage of financial security acquired in other enterprises to pursue serious questions in entomology. They may even find time to carry out investigations for which the professional finds no support and make valuable contributions directly in their own publications

Figure 1.6 Felipe Poey, first native-born Latin American entomologist. (From Memorias de la Sociedad Cubana de Historia Natural, 1, facing p. 8, 1915)

or in collaboration with professionals. They are therefore distinct from the dealers, whose primary aim in collecting is to profit financially from the sale of their catches.

Practical Entomology

Mention of diverse pestiferous Latin American insects is common in the earliest chronicles and later works. The first reference to control was made by Francisco Hernández in his Historia de los Insectos de Nueva España, written in manuscript in about the mid-sixteenth century and stating that the Mexicans used a concoction of tobacco that they spread over the walls to kill fleas in a house (Hoeppli 1969:177). It may have been Henry Hawks, a Vera Cruz (Mexico) merchant, who provided one of the earliest clues to the connection between mosquitoes and human disease, when he wrote in 1572, "This towne is inclined to many kinde of diseases, by reason of the great heat, and a certeine gnat or flie which they call a musquito, which biteth both men and women in their sleepe. . . . Many there are that die of this annoyance" (Keevil 1957).

While evolutionary and taxonomic studies of insects continued following the birth of scientific entomology and expanded into the early twentieth century, the discovery of arthropod vectors of animal and human disease and the development of chemical control of crop pests fostered increased work in the applied phases of entomology in Latin America. In medical entomology, major strides were made in the battle against yellow fever and malaria because of the newfound knowledge that mosquitoes were the critical link in the spread of these diseases. It was the application of entomological principles by physicians Carlos Finlay [1833-1915] (fig. 1.7), Walter Reed [1851-1902], and William Gorgas [1854— 1920] which rid La Habana of yellow fever in 1901 and made possible the construction

Figure 1.7 Carlos Finlay, whose ideas led to the mosquito's role in transmission of yellow fever. (From a portrait formerly hung in the Regional Office of the Pan American Health Organization, Washington, D.C.; presently owned by Dr. J. Fermoselle-Bacardi, Coral Gables, Florida. Reproduced with owner's permission)

Figure 1.7 Carlos Finlay, whose ideas led to the mosquito's role in transmission of yellow fever. (From a portrait formerly hung in the Regional Office of the Pan American Health Organization, Washington, D.C.; presently owned by Dr. J. Fermoselle-Bacardi, Coral Gables, Florida. Reproduced with owner's permission)

of the Panama Canal shortly thereafter (Le Prince et al. 1916, McCullough 1977). In 1909, Carlos Chagas [1879-1934] demonstrated that a lethal trypanosome parasite of humans ('Trypanosoma cruzi) was transmitted by a kissing bug (Panstrongylus megistus).

Modern knowledge of agricultural entomology (Doreste et al. 1981, Howard 1930), the identification and control of crop pests, was primarily imported, workers and technology in Europe and North America largely determining the course of events. Although numerous references to pest insects are scattered throughout the literature of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries (Kevan 1977), possibly the earliest scientific investigation into what could really be called economic entomology was made in 1801 when a special commission composed of members of the General Assembly of the Bahamas was sent to the West Indies to look into damage done to cotton by red bugs (Dysder-cus) and the chenille (Alabama argillacea).

In 1870, B. Pickman Mann, of Cambridge, was sent to Brazil with a commission authorized by Dom Pedro to study the country's natural history. He specialized in coffee and maize insects and prepared reports on each. In 1897, the Comisión para la Extinción la Langosta (antilocust commission) was established in Argentina, the first of many similar agencies, with appointed entomologists, to be formed in most countries during the early part of the twentieth century. Among the pioneers were W. H. T. Townsend and Johannes Wille in Peru, George Wolcott in Puerto Rico, and G. E. Bodkin in British Guiana. The earliest book on agricultural entomology was Las Epidemias de las Plantas en la Costa del Perú by Manuel García y Merino (1878).

Parasitoids and predators of several pests were introduced into problem areas with varying results by the 1930s (Myers 1931), and several sites became the scene of important experimental trials in biological control (Hagen and Franz 1973). Hopes were realized in the Brazilian Amazon fly (Metagonistylum mínense, Tachinidae) for control of sugarcane moths. The sterile male technique for the control of screw-worm was first tested successfully on the island of Curaçao in 1954.

Notes on the history of the various insects of commercial value in Latin America are to be found in the systematic portion of this book (see cochineal insects, silk moth, stingless bees, honeybee, etc.).


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