Working with bugs

Bug collections’ manager
at MU reveals the good,
the bad and the ugly
about entomology
Friday, April 22, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:41 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Kristin Simpson works with bugs.

For 17 years, she has been the collections manager at MU’s Enns Entomology Museum in the Agriculture Building at Hitt and Rollins streets. Simpson tends the collection daily — labeling the bugs and noting information about them.

The museum has almost six million specimens. Simpson says it is one of the largest entomology museums at a university in the country.

Simpson says she likes organizing the collections, which is done in one of two ways: either by how the insects are related to each other or alphabetically.

Her least enjoyable task involves making sure the alcohol levels of about 40,000 bug-holding vials are high enough. Done once a year, it takes two weeks for one person to complete, she says.

This summer, Simpson, who has her master’s in entomology from MU, will return to Thailand to collect insects. Simpson also gives tours and educational speeches about the little bugs. Did you know, for example, that Missouri is home to about 15,000 types of insects?

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