Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #201102

Title: The insect (Insecta) fauna of Plummers Island, Maryland: notes on historical collections and preliminary comments on diversity

item Brown, John
item Bahr, Stephen

Submitted to: Bulletin of the Biological Society of Washington
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/12/2006
Publication Date: 5/21/2008
Citation: Brown, J.W., Bahr, S.M. 2008. The insect (Insecta) fauna of Plummers Island, Maryland: notes on historical collections and preliminary comments on diversity. Bulletin of the Biological Society of Washington. 15:54-64.

Interpretive Summary: Many species of insects provide “ecosystem services” in native situations as pollinators of crops and other plants, decomposers of organic material, and as food for birds, mammals, and other invertebrates. These services are estimated to be worth as much as $57 billion annually. In this paper we present an overview of the insect fauna of Plummers Island, Maryland, based on a review of the National Insect Collection and relevant literature. This information will be of interest to scientists involved in faunal surveys and inventories, resource agency personnel developing conservation and management strategies for natural lands, and APHIS and other agencies whose goal is to detect and monitor invasive species.

Technical Abstract: Plummers Island, a small site situated along the northern shore of the Potomac River in Montgomery County, Maryland, has been the research home of the Washington Biologists’ Field Club for over 100 years. Field work conducted by club members from 1901 to about 1925 resulted in the accumulation of thousands of insect specimens of all orders from the island, most of which are deposited in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Little collecting was conducted from ca. 1930–1950. In the 1960s sampling focused primarily on bees and wasps and carabid beetles. Since 1998 the Lepidoptera fauna has been the subject of investigation, along with leaf beetles. In 2005 and 2006 malaise traps were deployed to sample other orders. While the four major insect orders (i.e., Coleoptera, Diptera, Lepidoptera, and Hymenoptera) are represented by large numbers of historical specimens, among them only Lepidoptera have been surveyed thoroughly in recent times; notable exceptions include specific families: carabid beetles, leaf beetles, tenebrionid beetles, sawflies, and bees and wasps. Based on an examination of the insect collection of the National Museum and a review of relevant literature, we document 3,012 insect species in 253 families, encompassing 18 hexapod orders: Collembola, Odonata, Dermaptera, Blattoidea, Phasmatoidea, Orthoptera, Psocoptera, Thysanoptera, Hemiptera, Neuroptera, Megaloptera, Coleoptera, Mecoptera, Trichoptera, Lepidoptera, Diptera, Siphonaptera, and Hymenoptera.