Friends of the Bug Closet

The Bug Closet has had the benefit of having many wonderful people making helpful contributions.

Dr. Hojun Song was the first Curator of UCFC and Assistant Professor in the UCF Department of Biology. He is a classically-trained insect systematist and works on the insect order Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids) and other insects. Since January 2015, Dr. Song has joined the Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University. Please visit The Song Laboratory of Insect Systematics and Evolution website for more information on his research. Hojun is one of the most influential and important people associated with the Bug Closet.  During his tenure as the first curator, he was able to procure a full-time staff collection manager position, created the new website, and managed the database switch to Hymenoptera Online (which made all of our collection holdings publicly available through GBIF and other entities).  He also organized a collecting trip to St. John, USVI, in which Bug Closet folks participated.

Zach Prusak, a Biology Dept. graduate, President of the Friends of the Bug Closet, and our ant man, just after one of his better controlled burns (circa 2004)!!! Now Fire Manager for The Florida Nature Conservancy.



Dr. I. Jack Stout (sitting at the far right – during Stuart’s birthday lunch, March 2014), professor emeritus at the UCF Bio. Dept., has been a friend of the Bug Closet since the beginning.  He has helped out in many ways, but we have particularly benefited from receiving voucher specimens from his ecological projects.


Dr. Paul Skelley is a renowned coleopterist and the Head Curator for the Florida State Collection of Arthropods (FSCA) in Gainesville.  Dr. Skelley has been a big help since the inception of the Bug Closet, providing advice on how to set up the collection, and even arranging to have cabinets, drawers and literature donated!  He is always a gracious and willing host for our trips to the FSCA and continues to be a reliable person for collection or field-related advice.  On top of that, he has identified our clown beetles (Histeridae) and pleasing fungus beetles (Erotylidae).  (2020)


Ed Zoll is one of Stuart’s old pals and has always been a friend and benefactor to the Bug Closet.  Among many other things he helped fund and accompanied us on the Sierra Nevada collecting trip, ran traps for us for a year in Northern Florida, and has helped out over the years with materials for the collection. (2020)




Visiting from Athens, Georgia, Dr. Theresa Pitts-Singer lends a helping hand. (circa 2001)






Dr. James Pitts, back of his head, but all we could get because he was too busy working on our gazillion mutillids. (circa 2001)






Dr. Frank Parker, retired from the USDA Bee Lab (Logan Utah), brought his own fresh-caught (and frozen) food when he came to visit. (circa 2002?)



Dr. Frank Parker spent a week and a half in the maelstrom of the Closet working on all sorts of things. Oh yeah, he even brought his own scope! In addition, he has donated many trap samples from western USA, Panama, Peru and South Africa that have greatly enhanced the geographic scope of UCFC. (circa 2002)


Dr. Lubomir Masner. A visitor from Canada Agriculture, he was here for a week and a half during the renovations working on proctotrupoids, platygastroids, ceraphronids, and other such things (almost 20,000 of them). And…you guessed it – running pan traps! (circa 2001)




Kevin Pitz, Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Dr. Mike Sharkey, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, visited us for more than a week in the winter of 2003-4 and brought our braconids to a subfamily taxa level (around 10,000 specimens). He took back the Cenoncoelinae (the subfamily he was revising) and discovered a new species of Mendesellinae, which he described and published. (circa 2004)

Charlie Rolsky, a graduating senior in high school in Scottsdale, Arizona. He has been running a malaise trap in his back yard for us for the last year. (circa 2005)





The Intrepid Trio – from left to right: Shawn Kelly, Dr. Richard Westcott, and Stuart Fullerton looking for buprestid beetles in the Ocala National Forest in northern Florida. Dr. Westcott (retired, Oregon Department of Ag., Salem, Oregon) was here working with grad student Shawn Kelly for 1.5 fun-filled weeks of inspecting burned trees and beating the woods for buprestids. And, boy, we got some doozies! (circa spring, 2006)



Dr. Robert Zuparko of the Essig Museum at U.C. Berkeley and California Academy of Sciences. Bob has given us hours and hours and hours of volunteer work with our chalcidoidea from his home lab in Oakland where he is pictured. (circa 2012)


This fellow is Dr. Gary Gibson, who has done lots and lots of work with our material and is the author of at least eight new species using our specimens as types or paratypes. Additionally, he has made several suggestions over the years that have improved things that we do. Along with Bob Zuparko (4 pictures above), they have put our chalcoids “on the map”. A very good and willing friend of the bug closet, indeed!



Dr. Massimo Olmi, who lives in Italy and works on our dryinids. He is the author of Dryinus fullertoni from 1997. We just finished sending him over 3,000 dryinid specimens (2012) and he is a very prolific worker and writer; the world authority for the group. (circa 2012)




Dave Almquist, Invertebrate Zoologist with Florida Natural Areas Inventory, originally helped us out with identifying beetles back when he was a student at UF in the early 2000’s. Since then, we have collaborated with him on a few projects, including documenting morphological variation and distribution of some rove beetles. (2021)




Dr. Jason Gibbs, also known as Dr. Lasioglossum to some of us, is with Cornell University. He has agreed over the next few years to take on all of our Lasioglossum specimens. He has identified several thousand from all over, including from our collection, the western states, and exotic countries. What a friend! (circa 2012)

Dr. Matthias Buck is with the Royal Alberta Museum. He has taken on all our new vespoid material and is making corrections of material that Stuart identified a long time ago. He is also an author of the fantastic “Identification Atlas of the Vespidae of the Northeastern Nearctic Region,” published in 2008, a tour de force some 492 pages long. (circa 2009)


Dr. David Jenkins is an ecologist, co-PI for the D4 Ecology Lab, and UCF Dept. of Biology faculty member.  He was Shawn’s advisor for his MS thesis and continues to be a mentor.  We have collaborated with him and other D4 lab folks and received voucher specimens from several projects that took place at the MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center, as well as a current project investigating the effects of mosquito spraying on non-target insects in Seminole County.  Here seen “working remotely” during the COVID-19 pandemic. (2020)

These fine folk are Drs. Margaret Thayer and Al Newton, staphylinidologists and Chicago Field Museum scientists, who I.D. staphs for us. Margaret, especially, has helped develop the BC over the (many, many) years. Oh, and in case you didn’t recognize him, the man in the middle is Shawn Kelly, the BC’s hard-working collection manager. (circa 2010)

Here is Dr. Howard Frank from the University of Florida in Gainsville on a visit to the Bug Closet back in 2012.  Professionally he has focused on teaching and researching biocontrol of insect pests, including exotic molecrickets and bromeliad weevils. However, now that he is close to retiring he finally has the time to work up a series of publications on the Staphylinidae of Florida – including a new species from the UCFC named in honor of Stuart in 2014.



Bob Belmont, Board Certified Entomologist with Massey Services, has been a friend of the Bug Closet for many years.  He has graciously donated specimens from his arthropod diversity survey of the Central Florida Zoo natural areas in Sanford, as well as boxes and many species-identified Lepidoptera specimens from North America that have greatly augmented our collection.  He is also our go-to person for any moth identification that we are having trouble with.

Dr. Joshua King is a UCF bio professor and ecologist who studies social insects, particularly ants and termites.  He was interim curator of the UCFC during the transition from Drs. Song and Sharanowski.  He has been a great advocate for the Bug Closet and has collaborated with us on ecological projects.  He has also mentored several of our students for their undergraduate research projects, and folks from his lab often help out and utilize the collection.

Derek Woller was a PhD student in Dr. Song’s lab and the Bug Closet’s first ever outreach coordinator!  He also founded the Entomological Society of Central Florida (ESCF), coordinated some of the first bioblitzes we participated in, led many field expeditions, and coauthored several papers from Bug Closet-related research among many other things.  He moved to TAMU to finish his PhD with the Song Lab and now works for the USDA in Arizona doing rangeland grasshopper control.  He still contributes to the Bug Closet though, and even occasionally makes it out to Florida for collecting trips.

Here is Derek wearing his infamous cockroach hat and gesturing rapidly while he shows off the “Oh, My!” drawer of worldwide beetles and leps to a visiting group: Cub Scout Pack 608 from Oveido, FL (11/18/2013)






Dr. Doug Caldwell, seen here after his first collecting trip in Crawfordsville, IN in 1955, is a horticulture and landscape entomologist with the Collier Co. IFAS extension of the University of Florida.  He generously donated his impressive personal insect collection to the Bug Closet of thousands of specimens (mostly beetles), as well as several cabinets with accompanying drawers.  These specimens were an invaluable addition because many are identified by specialists and were collected in the Midwest USA and Mexico, and so represent numerous species formerly not present in the UCFC.

Drs. Bruce and Diane Stanley, both retired entomologists who met in graduate school at Cornell and then went on to careers with DuPont, donated many outreach drawers (library photo), and voucher specimens from Bruce’s project when he was a student at UCF back in the 70’s investigating the diversity of arthropods in a Spartina marsh on Merritt Island.




Shiala M. Naranjo worked in both the Song and Sharanowski labs while she earned her undergrad degree, but also spent a lot of time helping out in the Bug Closet.  She did outreach and website management for us, presented a poster about the UCFC at an ESA conference, and donated voucher specimens from her project analyzing potential pollinators in different habitats on campus, among many other things. Shiala is currently the lab manger for the Mallinger Lab at the Univ. of FL. (circa 2015)

Alex Orfinger was a frequent visitor to the Bug Closet during his time at UCF (2012-2017) earning an undergrad and master’s degree. He participated in many field trips including to Central Florida caves, grasshopper sampling expeditions for Derek Woller’s dissertation research, and bioblitzes. He also co-authored journal articles on the distribution of a rove beetle and natural history of mydas flies during his time at UCF. These experiences inspired him to pursue a PhD in entomology at UF/FAMU where he is currently studying the natural history and distribution of North American caddisflies (Trichoptera).  (2020)

Dr. Miles Zhang helped out UCFC in the collection and in the field while earning a PhD in the Sharanowski Lab.  His research focuses on the systematics and ecology of parasitic and gall-forming wasps, in which he continues to contribute specimens to the collection. Miles is currently a post doc in the Lucky Lab at UF.  (2020)



Craig Duxbury is an environmental scientist working with Wood, a consulting firm. He is collaborating with us on a project investigating the diversity of bees at the Oakland Nature Preserve. This conservation area is slowly being restored to the native sandhill community. He also has donated many excellent aquatic specimens identified by specialists from his field studies and his time spent working for Disney. (2020)




Dr. Nash Turley is a postdoc in the Sharanowski lab.  He is an ecologist with a love of insects so naturally spends a lot of time in the Bug Closet!  He has been a big help with bioblitz field and lab work, and we have had the pleasure of collaborating with him on his main project, Lawns to Wildflowers.  He also uses UCFC outreach drawers and represents the Bug Closet in the many events he attends for Lawns to Wildflowers, and even occasionally gives tours of the Bug Closet. (2020)

Davide Dal Pos is a PhD student in the Sharanowski lab exploring the internal morphology and evolutionary significance of the metasoma in the parasitoid wasp family Ichneumonidae. He obtained his master’s degree in biology from the University of Padua (Italy), and he was hired as assistant curator at the Nataral History Museum of Venice before moving to the USA. His expertise is the subfamily Ichneumoninae (Hymenoptera, Ichneumonidae), which he is curating at the Bug Closet and in other institutions across the world. (2020)


Jenny Bouchenot is pursuing her Master of Science degree in biology at UCF under the advisement of Dr. Eric Goolsby. She has been a volunteer with Audubon Center for Birds of Prey for three years and is excited to continue her project on contaminants within Florida birds of prey. She has been kind enough to donate arthropod (lice, louse flies and mites) samples opportunistically collected from raptors during her study to the Bug Closet. So far, Bald Eagles, Red Shouldered Hawks, Black Vultures, and more have ‘donated’ arthropods to the collection. (2020)