Tom Turpin
Professor of
Purdue University


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Flies in the face of fashion

What's Buggin You Now?





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Not Many Things Named After Entomologists

People, it seems, like to give names to things. I'm not talking about creating new words for inventions. Or coining a word for a newly discovered chemical. I'm talking about special names for specific things. The Golden Gate Bridge, the Tower of London and the White House do not refer to just any bridge, tower or house. These names are used for specific structures.

Names of structures can reflect locations or physical characteristics or both. For instance, the tower in London or the one in Pisa, which just happens to be leaning a bit.

Many times things are named for people who are deceased. Such names are bestowed to honor the individual. Structures named after people are common around the world. In Washington, D.C., we find not only the Washington Monument but also the Thomas Jefferson, Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorials. There is also a memorial to George Mason, who penned the Virginia Declaration of Rights.

Politicians, it seems, get things named for them. Many times it's because the politician was responsible for getting the funds that built the specific structure. Consequently, many bridges carry the name of a politician. In West Virginia, all kinds of things are named after long-time senator Robert C. Byrd. Byrd, it seems, has been good at bringing federal dollars to West Virginia to build things. Many of which now carry his name.

Former U.S. presidents get their names attached to all kinds of things, in addition to the mandatory presidential library. Streets, for example. What medium-to-large size U.S. city doesn't have a Washington, Lincoln or Grant street, a Harrison or Roosevelt avenue, or a Kennedy expressway?

In the case of John F. Kennedy, add to the usual streets performing arts and space centers. Lyndon Johnson also has his name attached to a space facility, in Texas, of course. Even the wives of U.S. presidents sometimes get things named after them. The Betty Ford Center specializes in alcohol and drug rehabilitation.

Schools are also named after U.S. presidents. Pick almost any president, and you can find schools carrying that name. Even colleges and universities. Truman State in Missouri, for instance. Sometimes, the presidents have to share the honor, as is the case with Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania.

Colleges and universities have named buildings. Many times the buildings are named after former administrators. At Purdue University, there are buildings named after former presidents Hovde , Hanson and Beering . Former acting president Hicks and business administrator Freehafer also have their names on structures.

If the name for a university structure isn't from a former administrator, it's most likely from someone who financially supported construction of the building. Even the name Purdue is in place because businessman John Purdue donated money to help start the school.

Very few university buildings are named after entomologists. This is probably because entomologists don't become university presidents or donate enough money to build buildings. However, at least four university buildings carry the name of an entomologist.

Comstock Hall at Cornell University is named after John Henry Comstock, the widely recognized first teacher of entomology. C. H. Fernald specialized in entomology at Maine State College and later at Massachusetts Agricultural College. Now there is a Fernald Hall at both universities. The University of Minnesota has Hodson Hall, named for an entomologist who served as head of the department.

Four university buildings, but no schools, no roads, no bridges or monuments carry the name of an entomologist. But entomologists do have insects named for them. The Burmeister mantid , Cooley spruce gall adelgid and Lange metalmark butterfly get their names from entomologists Burmeister , Cooley and Lange. The Lange metalmark was actually named by John Henry Comstock. Comstock himself was immortalized in the Comstock mealybug -- as well as by Cornell University's Comstock Hall. To an entomologist, getting an insect named after you beats a building any day!



Writer: Tom Turpin
Editor: Olivia Maddox