See no-see-ums Hawaii Expedition
Calling all nature and science lovers. We need your help. If you enjoy learning about insects and museum collections, you can help researchers studying the biodiversity of parasites by transcribing specimens in the Bishop Museum Entomology Collection.
We are launching a new expedition to digitize our U.S. parasite collection starting with no-see-ums from Hawaii. No-see-ums or “punkies” are tiny midges usually less than 3 mm wingspan. They are barely bigger than nothing, but their painful bite feels like a burning piece of ash. Hawaii has 8 native species in two genera: Dasyhelea and Forcipomyia. One native species of Forcipomyia rarely bites humans and other animals, but adults of most native species feed on pollen and nectar and are important pollinators, including some crop plants like cacao.
Eight alien species have been introduced into Hawaii by human trade. One recently established species, Culicoides jamaicensis belongs to a group of important human and veterinary pests and may become problematic in Hawaii.
Because of their small size, these midges are usually glued on paper points mounted on insect pins. Specimens in the Hawaiian insect collection include hundreds of important historic pinned specimens. They represent an important reference collection documenting the biting midge fauna of Hawaii.
Your participation in this expedition will not only be helping the Bishop Museum but will be assisting a larger community involving 22 museums and institutions that are working together to digitizing over a million parasite specimens. The Terrestrial Parasite Tracker project goals are to synthesize thousands of important arthropod records so that the specimens, and their associated data, will be available to help understand and predict the spread of human and wildlife disease.
Please join our virtual ohana of citizen scientists and help unlock valuable information about the diversity and distribution of these parasites making these data available to scientists across many disciplines.
You can find the new See no-see-ums Hawaii expedition in the Terrestrial Parasite Tracker Project.
— Jim Boone, Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawai‘i