History of National Pusa Collection

 

The first mention of the insect collection at IARI, then Imperial Agricultural Research Institute, was in its annual scientific report as follows “during the year 1907 to 1909 the third assistant to Maxwell Lefroy was Mr. G. R. Dutt, has been in charge of economic records and collections, and has done original work on aculeate hymenoptera. The assistant in charge of the collections, Mr. D. Nowrojee, did excellent work with the arrangement and upkeep of the general insect collections.” During this time Maxwell-Lefroy wrote a series of ground-breaking books, including Indian Insect Pests (1906) and Indian Insect Life: a manual of the insects of the plains (tropical India) (1909), an 800-page guide with many hand-painted illustrations and still in print.

 

By 1916-17, steady progress was made in additions of specimens and arrangement of the collection. Rearrangement and compilation of specimens of  Lepidoptera (including the Micro-lepidoptera), Coleoptera, Orthoptera and part of Rhynchota was completed and placed in series. The identification of the collection of Diptera was undertaken by Mr. Brunetti.  All the specimens were identified by parceling them to the experts. This was identified and returned back. Some of the experts are listed below

 

  • Carabidae -Mr. H. L. Andrewes.
  • Curcuiionidae - Dr. G. A. K. Marshall.
  • Anthribidae - Dr. K. Jordan.
  • Rutelidae - Mr. G. J. Arrow.
  • Melolonthidae - Mr. G. J. Arrow. Partly
  • Cerambycidae - Mr. 0. J. Gahan.
  • Histeridae - Mr. G. Lewis.
  • Sphegidae- Mr. Rowland E. Turner.
  • Formicidae - Dr. C. M. Wheeler.
  • Tenthredinidae - Mr. Rohwer.
  • Microlepidoptera - Mr. E. Meyrick, F.R.S.

 

Over the years great progress was made in identification of specimens in addition to the augmentation. By 1919 the collection had become large and important from systematic point of view. And specimens were started to be shifted from paraffin waxed box to cabinets. By this time the  Microlepidoptera collection, contained in cabinets, was  by far the largest. About thousands of specimens were received every year. Numerous collections of Indian insects were received and named and returned as far as possible. These included collections sent by the Forest Research Institute, the Provincial Agricultural Departments, the Bombay Natural History Society, and by numerous correspondents collection in India. The collection by this time was a major source material for describing the Indian insect fauna and played a pivotal role in meeting the resolution of  the Third Entomological Meeting, held at Pusa in February 1919, to catalogue of all described Indian Insects.

 

By 1920, Pusa collection had more than 7000 named specie of Indian insects with Microlepidoptera inside cabinets comprising 700 named species. Orthoptera, Neuroptera, Ryncota were all in fair order and Odonata was revised by then. Dipteran collection in entomological and pathological entomology was amalgamated in to one.

 

By 1921-22 it had around one million specimens. This was collection by then represented a key for the to the information regarding Indian Insects. Good deal of work was done in sorting out and collection of Diptera.

 

During the years 1922-23 many catalogues and revision were done for example Major F. C. Frazer published many novelties on Odonata in Memoirs of IARI and Journal of Bombay Natural History Society, Mr. Uvarov  on Short horned Gras hoppers, second and third part of Catalogue on Culicidae and Bombylidae by Mr. R. Senior White.

 

During 1923-24 the period major identification was done by the following workers.

  • Major F.C. Fraser - Odonata,
  • Mr. Morgan Hebard - Dermaptera,
  • Mr. B.P. Uvarov - Acrididae,
  • Mr. Hebbard- Blattidae and Mantidae,
  • Dr. H. Scott-Chrysomelidae,
  • Dr. Horn - Cicindelidae,
  • Dr. K G Blair-Meloidae,
  • Mr. Herr Ochs - Gyrinidae,
  • Mr. Esben Petersen- Neuroptera,
  • Mr. E. Meyrick-Lepidoptera,
  • Major Patton - Diptera,
  • Senor Garcia Mercet- Hymenoptera.

Many card catalogues and fauna volumes were kept updated.

 

During 1924-25 the following par of catalogues were published

  • Part 4 : Trypetidae by R. Senior White
  • Part 5: Nitidulidae by S. N. Chatterjee
  • Part7: Lasiocampidae by T. Bainbrigge Fletcher
  • Part 8 : Amatidae by T. Bainbrigge Fletcher
  • Part 9: Zygaenidae by T. Bainbrigge Fletcher

 

From 1909 the collection increased from 2221 to 8815 named species by 1926 with majority being Lepidoptera (3606) followed by Coleoptera (2470). By this time pusa collection was also getting request from foreign entomologists regarding supply of Indian Insects. For example Idiocerus atkinsoni to Mr. Whitehead, Canada, Indian Honey bees to Mavromonstakis, Cyprus.

 

The following catalogs were published during 1926 to 1932 at NPC

  • Stapylinidae by M. Cameron (Part 6)
  • Stapylinidae by G. R. Dutt (Part 10)
  • Brenthidae by  R. Kleine (Part 11-1926-27)
  • Gyrinoidea by George Ochs (1929-30)   
  • Lycidae by Richard Klein
  • Alucitidae by T. Bainbrigge Fletcher (1931-32)
  • Lycidae by Richard Kleine
  • Phaloiadae and Chlidanotidae by T. Bainbrigge Fletcher

 

1934-35 : Due to the earth quake in 1943 Pusa Collection was shifted to New Delhi. Proper rearrangement and card cataloguing was under taken. Large numbers of Insects occurring in Pusa were collected to fill the damage in collection which occurred due to the disaster. During this period the insect pest identification service was undertaken as a part of pest advisory.

 

1936-37 : Card cataloging and progressed with about 25000 specimens of 2000 species being catalogued. Many new species received as donation were added to the collection.

 

After 1940 many taxonomists contributed to the NPC namely

 

  • Dr. M.G.R. Menon - All insects, Psocoptera
  • Dr. E.S. Narayanan- Hymenoptera
  • Dr. B.R. Subbarao - Hymenoptera
  • Dr. H.S. Pruthi - Hemiptera
  • Dr. S.I. Farooqi - Hymenoptera
  • Dr. S. Ghai - Acarina
  • Dr. U. Ramakrishnan - Hemiptera
  • Dr. S.L. Gupta - Lepidoptera
  • Dr. R.K. Anand - Meloidae and Chrysomelidae
  • Dr. V.V. Ramamurthy - Curculionidae and Scarabaeidae
  • Dr. S. Joshi - Acarina

 

During 2005 to 2016, Network Project on Insect Biosystematics (NPIB) funded by Indian Council of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi started in NPC. This project was headed by Dr. V.V. Ramamurthy and comprised of 13 different centers all over India.  Modernization of NPC has been carried out through NPIB.