Octogenarian Couple Donates Their Bug Collection Worth Millions [VIDEO]By Anne Collins, UniversityHerald Reporter
Lois and Charlie O'Brien were octogenarian entomologists who travelled the world collecting insects. They have collected over a million of insects where they placed in over 1,000 glass drawers in their home.
The couple started their bug collection in the late 1950s and expanded their trover for over 60 years. They met in the University of Arizona. Now they have decided to donate their gigantic collection of insects to Arizona State University.
Arizona State University said in a statement that the couple's donation is worth $12 million. It included rare specimens and will double the school's existing collection. The collection composed of two main themese, weevils and planthoppers.
Charlie O'Brien, 83, is an internationally recognized expert in the beetle. His research has helped weevils fight off invasive weed that can decimate ecosystems. His documentation of over a million weevils will truly help future researchers.
Lois, 89, also works with weevils but is more of a planthopper collector. She has about 250,000 planthoppers in collection. She has written more than 50 papers on planthoppers.
According to The Smithsonian Mag, the preserved insects last for hundreds of years. There are still a huge number of undescribed insects and the collection can help researchers better understand the features of insects and how they interact with their environment. ASU estimated that only a tenth of the world's 10 million insect species have been identified or named.
The rest of their lives were spent collecting, examining, labeling and storing their massive collection of insects. They had a mix of exhausting field work and exhaustive categorizing at home.
The octogenarian couple's fascination for insects has brought them together. They went on trips to over 70 nations and all seven continents. According to WAMU the couple also donated $2 million to endow professorships dedicated to identifying new species.