Filed Under:

Rare Specimens: An Unusual Match-Up In Entomology

Play associated audio

Alma Solis, a researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Systematic Entomology Lab, and her husband, Jason Hall, a researcher with the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum, are, at first blush, a natural match.

Both are entomologists, a career that requires long hours, field work and travel for months at time — all without huge pay. But the couple soon learned that though they shared a passion, they did not share a specialty.

Hers: moths.

His: butterflies.

In the world of entomology, Solis explains, that makes rare specimens.

"Butterfly people usually stick with butterfly people and moth people usually stick with moth people," she says. "We were the only moth-butterfly couple up until about a month ago, when we had some colleagues in Finland get married. But we were it until then."

"It's a very unusual shared passion," Hall adds.

She collects specimens at night, with a huge, lighted sheet in the forests of northern Mexico. He scales Ecuadorian mountains with giant nets, braving mosquitoes and waist-deep mud. Ecuador, in fact, was something of a first date for the couple.

"He took me out into the field, I think, because he wanted to make sure I could do this before he could even think about marrying me," Solis says.

When they're not traveling, the couple relax in a vast butterfly garden they've built surrounding their suburban Maryland home.

"It's very quaint," Hall says. "But that's part of the reason to have a little butterfly garden. When you're not in the field, it keeps the butterflies close — keeps them in sight. Reminds you of what you enjoy doing."

To hear more of the couple's interview with NPR's Jacki Lyden, click the audio link above.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Peruvians Love Their Chicha Street Art. The Government ... Not So Much

Walk down a street in Peru and you'll likely see an example of the glow-in-the-dark posters and murals. Lots of people love them. But the upper crust — and the government — aren't impressed.
NPR

Tea-Infused Sweets: Chocolate + Jasmine Tea Is A Match Made In Heaven

Smoky and floral brews can provide a kick of flavor to desserts, especially when blended with chocolate. Pastry chef Naomi Gallego shows us a few tricks for surprising the palate with tea.
WAMU 88.5

Texas Textbooks And Teaching The Civil War And America's History Of Racial Segregation

This fall five million public school students in Texas will use textbooks that critics say misrepresent the Civil War and the nation's history of racial segregation. The battle over how the Civil War is taught in public schools.

WAMU 88.5

UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski

The president of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, chats about the future of higher education — and what he's doing to steer African-American students into science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.