The Funnels of Antonio Berlese
Antonio Berlese was an Italian nobleman and an entomologist of note. He was an early specialist on insect pests of fruit trees. His Italian entomology textbook, Gli Insetti, rivaled those of our American authors – John Henry Comstock and Edward Oliver Essig.
But that’s not what he’s noted for.
Berlese got into a race with the Dutch biologist A. C. Oudemans, to provide names for all of the European species of mites. Berlese named, I don’t know, hundreds of them. I run into his name frequently in my studies of mites.
But that’s not what he’s noted for, either.
Berlese invented a tool for collecting small arthropods – insects, mites, spiders – that’s widely used today. The Berlese Funnel. You put a sample of moss, leaf litter, bird nest, whatever, into the funnel and turn on the light bulb. The heat will drive the little arthropods into the alcohol cup below. Antonio didn’t have electric lights – he used steam to heat his funnels. But same principle. And THAT'S how today’s entomologists know Antonio Berlese.
These Berlese funnels are set up at the Cabin on Freeman Ridge. Wonder what I’ll find? Maybe something I haven’t seen before.
By the way – that Dutch mite A. C. Oudemans, who named many more species of mites, is also noted for the book that he wrote – on sea serpents!
Ain't science fun?
August 27, 2014. Happy Birthday, Laurie F.!
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” – Earl Weaver.