"That’s basically my life’s work. All I do is try to document life on earth."
The genitalia of moths isn’t something many people spend much time thinking about, but they are a big deal to James Hayden.
Hayden is an entomologist with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and courtesy faculty member at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Part of his job involves identifying species of moths — and it’s often the genitals that set them apart. Since the museum’s collections include 10 million insects, moths and butterflies, any little bit can help.
“I look at structural things — is the head fuzzy, the wing pattern? So frequently I find myself dissecting things to look at the genitalia,” Hayden said. “Genitalia is diagnostic for insects. They are kind of like teeth. In humans, the teeth remain. Insect genitalia is kind of the same way.”
Science is driven by curiosity and while the motives for spending hours poring through tray after tray of pinned insects can vary, discovering a new species — insect or otherwise — is a major buzz all its own.
FMNH scientists have identified previously unknown species of insects, marine invertebrates, moths and more.
Read more at the Gainesivlle Sun