A beetle from an interesting time

As I was photographing and databsing the Cicindelinae from the collections of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science I came across this specimen collected on the 10th June 1921, Chicago Illinois. The beetle is Cicindela hirticollis hirticollis (could be a boldly marked ssp rhodensis as they readily intergrade along their boundaries) and is one of the most wide-spread species of tiger beetle we have in the US – so this isn’t what caught my eye. As a native Chicagoan and former Field Museum employee, 1921 sounded like a familiar date. I quickly Googled and found the reason why.

Summer 1921 was the grand opening of the Field Museum’s new (and still current) location in Grant Park. This famous photograph by Charles Carpenter illustrates just how popular the museum was on opening day, May 2, 1921.


The collector of the specimen is unknown and only left a label in their vintage tiny handwriting. We have the specimen here in Denver so the collector was likely not a native Chicagoan (those specimens would have ended up at the Field Museum or even the Smithsonian). I suspect, or at least like to imagine, that our beetle was collected by an amateur Entomologist while he was in Chicago for the opening of the new museum.

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science (at the time Denver Museum of Natural History) was only 21 years old at this point in history, but nevertheless an equally popular if not smaller version of the opulent Field Museum. Our collections hold the majority of Edward B. Andrews Rocky Mountain collection from the 1930’s, so perhaps I can wildly speculate that this was one of his earlier specimens collected on a pilgrimage east.


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