The Department of Entomology is housed in Smith Hall (SMTH), Whistler Agricultural Research Building (WSLR), and the Entomology Environmental Laboratory (EEL). The Center for Environmental and Regulatory Information Systems (CERIS) program and staff are located in a rented office suite off-campus. SMTH houses the teaching faculty, a student resource room, two dedicated entomology laboratory classrooms, the Boiler Bug Barn outreach center, most extension staff and applied research programs, the biological control program, the turf pest management program, the aquatic entomology program, the landscape ecology program, the Indiana CAPS program, the USDA APHIS Nuisance Wildlife program, the USDA APHIS Insect Identifier Unit, the Purdue Entomological Research Collection, and the administrative office suite. Entomology staff in WSLR are those individuals and programs that require specialized physiology, toxicology, biochemistry and molecular genetics and genomics laboratory facilities. EEL has lab and office space for the nematology program, host plant resistance program, growth chambers, and serves as the head house for the attached greenhouses.
Off Campus Facilities
The Entomology Field Operations Building (EFOB) is located on a 6-acre tract with a Butler type building 1.5 miles west of campus. This facility is used for field plot equipment storage, applying pesticides in laboratory experiments, and as a general workshop for the department. The apiary is located at this site and the building provides support facilities for our honey bee research activities. The fumigation laboratory used by the post harvest and forensic science programs is also located at EFOB. This laboratory consists of three temperature controlled fumigation chambers that provide the ability to test gas concentrations during fumigations. This is one of two such facilities in the nation. A second Butler-type building in this area serves as the bait mixing station for the USDA APHIS Nuisance Wildlife program. There are also three specially constructed outdoor rodent pens designed to restrict non-avian wildlife from moving into or out of the plots. The forensic science group is currently using these pens for replicated field work concerning animal cadavers and insect time of entry experiments. Entomology has a compartment in the Crop Protection Laboratory located at the Agronomy Research Center for storage and mixing of pesticides. The Agronomy Center For Research and Education is also the site of the Post Harvest Research and Education Center (PHERC). The PHERC is one of three facilities in the nation (the others are in Kansas and Oklahoma) with replicated research bins. Other field research is conducted at Purdue Agronomy, Horticulture, Post Harvest and Turf Centers, and with cooperators across the state.
Purdue Entomological Research Collections (PERC)
The Purdue Entomological Research Collections are an integral and invaluable part of the entomological program at Purdue in that they represent the diversity and distribution of those organisms that are in essence the subject of entomological study. The collections and associated labs and offices are housed in the east basement of SMTH. The primary functions of PERC are: 1) to provide a reference source for implementing the accurate and timely identification of insects (for teaching, research, and extension); 2) to serve as a database for systematic research at Purdue and by specialists throughout the world (a large number of loans and visitations are made annually); 3) to serve as a repository for voucher specimens used in field and laboratory research; and 4) to provide a facility for maintaining representatives of the entomofauna of Indiana habitats and surrounding regions.
Approximately 1,800,000 specimens are held, representing more than 140,000 species. Through collecting, donations, and exchanges, more than 540,000 specimens have been added to the collections since 1972 when the current coordinator and curator were hired, with 192,710 specimens added since the last departmental review in 2002. The majority of specimens are pinned in standard USNM style drawers. However, a large and rapidly growing collection of alcohol-preserved material is also maintained and a sizable number of specimens or parts thereof are preserved on microscope slides.
Although taxa are broadly represented geographically, approximately 60% of the specimens are from Indiana, and PERC is by far the single most important resource center for the insects of Indiana. It is one of our long-term goals to acquire as complete as possible a representation of the Indiana insect fauna. PERC is recognized internationally as a primary resource in four areas: 1) the type collection of over 5,839 type specimens, 2) the Ephemeroptera collection of approximately 400,000 specimens, and over 2,000 species, which ranks as the most complete, diverse, and taxonomically important collection of mayflies in the world, 3) the Blatchley collection of Coleoptera, and 4) the general aquatic insect collections, which are becoming one of the most important in North America.
Purdue Nematode Collection
The Purdue Nematode Collection, curated by V. R. Ferris, is comprised of two parts: 1) the traditional collection of Cobb slide mounts (especially of type specimens); and 2) the frozen and/or alcohol-preserved collection of nematodes used for DNA research.
The traditional collection at one time was a major resource containing more than 200,000 permanent specimens mounted on aluminum Cobb slides in glycerin and catalogued (paper records only) at least to genus. Primarily, the collection includes soil and freshwater nematodes from diverse habitats of North America. Holdings are 60% Adenophorea and 40% Secernentea. The "permanent" Cobb metal slide mounts are stored in boxes in fireproof safes housed in EEL near the nematology compound microscopes. The systematics reference collection of more than 5,000 reprints, books and monographs is stored near the safes. At one time, curatorial maintenance was provided by the department, but this is no longer the case. Grants to the curator for maintenance of a small and isolated collection (although pursued for many years) are no longer feasible. This results in neglect of the collection, which ideally should be frequently monitored and specimens remounted if they show signs of drying. Occasional requests for specimen loans are handled by the Curator as her time permits.
The materials used for DNA research are mainly stored frozen (in buffer) in boxes (80 samples/box) at –20oC with (paper) records maintained as to storage location, source, etc. Similar records are kept for alcohol-preserved specimens, although differences in container sizes make the physical storage of these specimens awkward. The curator attempts to replenish alcohol as it evaporates.
Nematode systematics research increasingly relies on molecular data, as young researchers seek to eliminate the need for laborious microscopic examination of museum specimens. This tendency may or may not change in future years, and we continue to maintain both collections as best we can.