Creepy critters call campus their home in the bug closet

Stuart Fullerton catalogs flies he caught under an ultraviolet light for his expansive insect collection that dates back to 1976 when he was a biology graduate student.

The new enrollment record at UCF has been broken. Students have been outnumbered — by bugs. For thousands of beetles, butterflies, spiders, wasps, flies and cockroaches, the bug closet in the Biological Sciences building is home.

“I just fell over as a young kid and there you were … insects,” Stuart Fullerton, founder of the collection, said to explain where his interest in creatures that most often cause fear and aversion came from.

Fullerton started the collection as a student of the biology graduate program in 1976. After graduating, he moved on, and it wasn’t until after his retirement in 1990 that he started rebuilding the collection in his house with the help of UCF student volunteers.

Fullerton said a unique characteristic of this collection is that it was built by students, for students and is still being used by students. There are currently six volunteers who work with the insects.

Sean McCarthy started six months ago as a volunteer and now does independent studies identifying arachnids.

“I guess I’ll be the spider guy for a while,” the senior biology major said while sitting in front of the dichotomous key he uses to compare the spiders, which are held in small tubes filled with water.

Read the entire story from the Central Florida Future here.

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