Brandon

Joined: Jan 3, 2019 Last Active: Jul 22, 2024 iNaturalist

PhD candidate at Utah State University studying ichneumonid systematics. I am mainly interested in New World Ichneumoninae and Phaeogenini.

For help with ichneumonine identification, visit my website: ichsofna.org and specifically the filterable gallery: http://ichsofna.org/Ichneumoninae/guide.html. It does not include every species (only ~15%) but will work for many common genera/ species. If you use the website and have feedback please message me.

It's important to keep in mind that the vast majority of ichs cannot be identified to species based on field photos and sometimes not even to genus. There are simply too many similar-looking species and our knowledge of their distribution, life history, etc. is too poor. This is why physical collections are still greatly needed and collecting is the single best way to contribute to ichneumonid research. Here is a great article about why killing and collecting insects is still so important: http://malaiseprogram.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/whywekillbugs-1.pdf.

Almost all observations are of specimens in my personal collection, though often not collected by myself. ID's are based on my personal knowledge and published literature and verified with reference specimens from the USU ichneumonid collection (formerly the American Entomological Institute).

My imaging system consists of a Canon Rebel T5 with either a Canon EFS 60mm macro lens for habitus shots or a Laowa 2.5-5.0x macro lens for closer shots. The camera is mounted on a dissecting scope stand. Diffused lighting is achieved with a cheap LED ring light covered in vellum paper and with a circular piece of styrofoam on the end. Around 10-25 images are taken and then focus stacked in Helicon focus. For more details on setting up a macro imaging system for mounted specimens visit http://ichsofna.org/blog_pages/imaging.html

For anyone interested in making a significant research contribution, I'm looking for help sampling ichneumoninae biodiversity, particularly in the western US. It's not hyperbole to say that no matter where you are you will collect an undescribed species. Ichneumoninae is the largest ichneumonid subfamily, yet it is very poorly known in the Nearctic, and there are potentially hundreds of undescribed species. The majority of species in the western US are undescribed. There are even some undescribed species in the northeastern US, where Gerd Heinrich revised the "Stenopneusticae". If you are interested, send me a message for more details. The easiest way to collect ichneumonines is with a Malaise (flight intercept) trap which I might be able to provide. Specimens caught using other methods (rearing, sweeping, aerial net, etc.) would be much appreciated as well.

Also, I'm looking for people to trade any by-catch Diptera, Chalcidoidea, etc. for ichneumonids!

Big thanks to Dan Cavan, Jody Frey (@schoolstreetflowers), Andrée Sanborn (@andreerenosanborn), Spencer Hardy (@beeboy), Ryne Rutherford (@ryruther), Royal Tyler (@royaltyler), Dr. Ollie Flint, Dr. David Smith, Dr. Scott Shaw and Bill Warner for sending me very valuable specimens!

See my website bio for list of publications and other info.

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