Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - 53

entific classifications of American insects.” Son of the naturalist Major John Eatton LeConte, who raised him when his mother died shortly after his birth, he learned about beetles on his father’s knee as a toddler while the major worked on his beetle collection. He was raised in New York City but moved with his family to Philadelphia when he was 27. By then he had graduated from college, begun his travels to the West in search of insects and written several papers on ground, tiger and long-horned beetles from the eastern United States. In 1859 he edited The Complete Writings of Thomas Say on the Entomology of North America, and with his friend and pupil Dr. George H. Horn he wrote The Classification of the Coleoptera of North America in 1883, which was based on the 11,000 beetle species in LeConte’s and Horn’s collections. He was also the founder and president of the American Entomological Society. Of the 36 insect species named for him that I found, almost all were beetles. One favorite exception of mine that lives on our mountain is the striking black and white LeConte’s haploa moth Haploa lecontei. Beetle species from Alaska to Texas, New Jersey to California bear his name — clown beetles, long-horned beetles, leaf beetles and, of course, a click beetle Elater lecontei. LeConte did his fair share of naming, too. The attractive hairy fungus beetle Mycetophagus melsheimeri is one of them. This brought me back to the very beginning of insect studies in North America, because before Say and LeConte, there was Frederick Valentine Melsheimer, also called the Father of American Entomology. He was considered the first serious American entomologist, because he made the first important insect collection and wrote the first important entomological work in the United States in 1806, A Catalogue of Insects of Pennsylvania. Sixty pages long, it dealt only with 1,363 species of beetles, of which about 400 are recognized today. His catalogue also included the habits, life
JANUARY 2012

histories and food plants of some of those insects, as well as the oldest description of a beetle larva in North America. But Melsheimer was primarily a minister. Born in Germany in 1749, he was ordained a chaplain in a regiment of Hessian Dragoons. Shortly after he preached his first sermon, the Dragoons were sent to North America to fight for the British in the American Revolution. After landing in Quebec in 1776, they were sent south, captured at the Battle of Bennington, and imprisoned first in Massachusetts and then in New York. Finally, Melsheimer was sent in 1779 to Bethlehem, where he resigned his commission as chaplain, assumed several Lutheran congregations in Lancaster County and married a Bethlehem native. Over the decades he served in Manheim, New Holland, Lancaster and Hanover. In addition, he founded German-American schools and was a professor of German, Latin and Greek, and one of the founders and the second president of Franklin College (now Franklin and Marshall College) in 1787. Of his 11 children, two sons followed his entomological interests. Johann Friedrich Melsheimer was an active insect collector, but he died and his brother, Dr. Franz Ernst Melsheimer, took over the collection and library. In 1842 he was elected the first president of the Entomological Society of Pennsylvania. From 1846 to 1848 he contributed seven papers on beetles to the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, and in 1853 he was elected president of the American Entomological Society. That same year the Smithsonian Institution published his Catalogue of the Described Coleoptera of the United States, which had been revised by Samuel Stehman Haldeman, still another early Pennsylvania entomologist who lived near Harrisburg and LeConte. Altogether, his insect collection consisted of 14,000 specimens of 5,000 species. I could not find nearly as many insects named for any of the Melsheimers. In fact, only five insects — one moth Cicinnus
53



Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012

Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - Cover1
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - 1
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - 2
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - 3
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - 4
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Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - BB1
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - BB2
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2012 - Cover4
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