Bug Guru

Stuart Fullerton, 72, is the colorful keeper of UCF’s Bug Closet, home to nearly half a million dearly departed specimens.



NORMA LOPEZ MOLINA

 

“I can trace my interest in insects to at least the fourth grade, when my teacher brought in some live silkworms and I stole them. I got caught, so I had to feed those silkworms mulberries for the rest of the year. And somewhere around sixth grade, I was trying to raise termites in an aquarium in my bedroom. My parents got moderately corked at that.”
 
Fullerton, a graduate of UCF, devoted his life to studying and collecting insects after retiring in 1990. In 1993, he moved his collection from his home to UCF and became a volunteer entomology lab instructor. Today, he maintains the Stuart M. Fullerton Collection of Arthropods with the help of student volunteers. 
 
“I am putting numbers today on specimen number 481,225, and I figure that in the next year, we will probably hit 500,000 insects.” 
 
“My favorite group is the native bees, or hymenoptera. I’ve looked at bees for 20 years, but I work primarily with para-sitic insects. It’s really whatever I’m looking at in the moment.” 
 
“About 60 to 70 percent of our specimens are from campus and the five surrounding counties. We’re noted around the world now. If you say ‘bug closet,’ and they’re in the business, then they know.”  
 
“If all of the insects fell off the face of the earth in 30 seconds, in about a year we would be up over our heads in dead stuff because the insects are one of the major decomposing agents to get rid of all the junk that we accumulate.’’ 
 
“There are over a million different species of insects named and described in the world with maybe 6 million to 8 million more that are still being identified and described. They are the largest single group of living creatures. They run the world.”
 
Hazards of being an insect enthusiast: “There’s the story of me falling off the side of a mountain while chasing a butterfly, and there’s the story of me almost hitting a tree because I was going down the road at 25 miles an hour with a bug net out the window trying to catch insects in the air and paying more attention to the net than the road.” 
 
“This is all volunteer work. Someday they will find my carcass and put it on a pin, put a number on it, and stick it in a cabinet. This is just what I do. Hitting a little white ball in a circle on a bunch of green grass with sand pits in it with an iron hammer is not exciting. So, no, I don’t intend to retire. Neither do I know what I’m going to be when I grow up, so don’t dare ask me that question.” 
Edit Module
Want to read the whole issue? Download and read this issue and others on Magzter.

Add your comment:
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

 

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags

Guides & Resources

Orlando's Top Chiropractors of 2014

More than 75 Central Florida chiropractors make our inaugural list.

Fall Getaways

Fall is finally on its way and now is the perfect time to plan your getaway. Check out some of these great deals and special destinations just a short drive from Orlando.

Real Estate's Hot 100

Whether you’re trying to buy or sell real estate, getting the best deal means finding an agent who possesses savvy and know-how and gets results. This list showcases some Central Florida agents who have demonstrated those skills.

Spotlight on Plastic Surgeons 2014

This special advertising section highlights the accomplishments of plastic surgeons, who tell about their commitment to helping people look their best.

Orlando's Best Lawyers of 2014

Get informed with our annual list of more than 400 Orlando-area attorneys, compiled by Best Lawyers in America. The annual selection features lawyers in 78 areas of practice.

Spotlight on Lawyers 2014

Our special advertising section featuring profiles on local lawyers.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

MoreRecent Blog Posts

Parade of Homes: Vote for Your Favorite

It's time to vote for your favorites for the People's Choice Award 2014 Fall Parade of Homes.

More Than a Swimming Hole

A few to-do's for your next trip to Wekiwa Springs.

New Orlando Restaurants Open This Fall

From a rustic restaurant at the Ritz and a cool wine bar on I-Drive to a rooftop steakhouse

Star Billing

Victoria & Albert's, Cask & Larder draw national kudos.