A creepy-crawly Halloween in UMSL entomology class

by | Oct 31, 2016

Halloween transformed more than 30 students in an entomology course into beetles, butterflies, praying mantises and more at UMSL.
Biology 4422: Entomology class Halloween 2016

“Watch your wings,” proclaimed Professor Bob Marquis’ Biology 4422: Entomology class as they gathered for a photo in their Halloween insect costumes. More than 30 students dressed up for the class. (Photos by August Jennewein)

Things got a little buggy at the University of Missouri–St. Louis as Halloween metamorphosed an entomology class into the insects they study.

Lady bugs, bumble bees and butterflies made up the majority of the transformations, but some atypical Halloween bugs made appearances as well. A treehopper, caddisfly larvae, praying mantis and even one firefly whose abdomen indeed lit up showed for the 11 a.m. course.

“Watch your wings,” insect students of Professor Bob Marquis’ Biology 4422: Entomology class proclaimed as more than 30 of them swarmed for a photo.

Together they represented nine orders of insects, including Blattodea, Coleoptera, Diptera, Hemiptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, Mantodea, Palaeoptera and Trichoptera. There are nearly 40 orders total.


Biology Professor Bob Marquis addresses his winged and mandible-wearing students as they determine how many insect orders they represent.

Many of the students made their costumes themselves. Senior biology major Jessica Montgomery was one such crafty bug. She dressed up as a cecropia moth, traditionally red and blackish brown.

“It’s actually a pretty moth,” Montgomery explained. “I kind of made it look scary, like a Deadpool moth. I thought I could do a cape with the wings since I’m going to be here [on campus] all day. It’d be cool and comfortable. My mom helped me. She sewed my cape, and I made my mask with feathers.”

Nathan Jones, another senior biology major, wore large bug eyes, a blue metallic hat and antennae on his head to emulate the six-spotted tiger beetle.

“Cicindela sexguttata,” said Jones, using the beetle’s scientific name. “He’s a super predator. He hunts things down, like flies, larvae, caterpillars and maybe even some young grasshoppers.”

Both Montgomery and Jones had been planning their costumes for a while. It didn’t hurt that dressing up earned them each 15 extra credit points.

“It’s worth it,” Jones said. “Plus, it’s fun.”

Although, at one point, Jones wasn’t so sure about dressing up for class, fearing that other students might bug out last minute on the idea. When he showed up to find the class full of wings, mandibles and even multiple eyes, he said he was “relieved.”

“Same,” said Montgomery in agreement. “I didn’t see anybody prior. I thought, ‘Please let someone have dressed up.’ And earlier I accidentally scared someone in the bathroom. I was like, ‘It’s OK! I’m a moth.’”

An elective for the biology degree, the entomology course has swayed both students to consider the field for possible future projects and possibly careers. Jones is applying for a grant for this coming summer to do entomological research.

“I’m going to look at fall webworms and spiders,” he said. “But right now I work with mosquito DNA, looking for malaria” – an undergraduate research opportunity he’s taking advantage of in Patricia Parker’s lab.

For Montgomery, she’s just “always kind of liked the creepy-crawly things nobody else likes.”

The UMSL Experience

Marisol Ramirez

Marisol Ramirez