A bug man's life

Jun 09, 2007
A bug man's life

Marvin Gunderman has cockroaches in his office, but he won't be calling the exterminator any time soon. The cockroaches are his pets, not pests. Gunderman, also known as the "bug man," is an insect aficionado.

As technical coordinator, curator of entomology and insect taxonomist in the Department of Biology, Gunderman is as happy as a bug in a rug.

"I'm a very happy guy," he says. "I'm getting paid to do what I love. Not many people can say that."

His office is a plethora of insect paraphernalia. The walls are covered with bug posters and display cases filled with pinned insects. Bug books line his bookcases. He even has a bug on his mug.

Gunderman's fascination with the insect world started in childhood. He began collecting them in jars at the age of 10. By his teens, he was making his own displays out of cigar boxes, sewing pins and handwritten labels. While attending McMaster, he took every course on invertebrates he could find, graduating with a B.Sc. in 1983, followed by an M.Sc. He began working at McMaster in 1989.

Digital photography has taken his passion for bugs to another level. He explained that while children enjoy catching bugs and keeping them in jars, eventually resulting in the bug's demise, photography allows him to observe bugs in their natural habitat without killing them.

Gunderman gets bug-eyed over beetles, but not just any beetles. Tiger beetles are his favourite.

"They're the most beautiful insects I've ever seen," he says. A tiger beetle even graces his business cards. And that bug on his mug? It's a tiger beetle too.

The biggest misconception about bugs is that "they're all harmful, they all bite, and they're all poisonous," says Gunderman. He adds that only two per cent of insects fall into these categories, and all insects are "vitally important to all ecosystems."

Gunderman assists with bug-related courses at McMaster and teaches a summer course on insect taxonomy at the Queen's University Biological Station.

He also takes his bug collection on tour to local schools.

"I like to work with young kids and get them to love insects, which they usually do, before their parents instill fear," he explains.

So the next time you see a spider in your home, resist the urge to squish it. Just leave it alone, Gunderman advises. The eight-legged exterminators eat other bugs.

Source: McMaster University

Explore further: Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

Related Stories

Solar Impulse 2 pilot becomes aviation legend

2 hours ago

At 62 years of age, Swiss Solar Impulse 2 pilot Andre Borschberg has made aviation history with a record breaking solo flight across the Pacific that he has called "an interior journey".

Facegloria: Facebook for Brazil's Evangelicals

3 hours ago

Fluffy clouds waft across a blue sky as you log in and while you chat with friends, Gospel music rings out: welcome to Facegloria, the social network for Brazilian Evangelicals.

Mexico City proposes regulations for Uber

3 hours ago

Mexico City is proposing regulations that would allow Uber and other smartphone-based ride-sharing apps to operate, while requiring drivers and cars to be registered, the city's Office of Legal and Legislative Studies said ...

Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

16 hours ago

The DNA molecule is chemically unstable giving rise to DNA lesions of different nature. That is why DNA damage detection, signaling and repair, collectively known as the DNA damage response, are needed.

Recommended for you

Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

Jul 03, 2015

The DNA molecule is chemically unstable giving rise to DNA lesions of different nature. That is why DNA damage detection, signaling and repair, collectively known as the DNA damage response, are needed.

The math of shark skin

Jul 03, 2015

"Sharks are almost perfectly evolved animals. We can learn a lot from studying them," says Emory mathematician Alessandro Veneziani.

Cuban, US scientists bond over big sharks

Jul 03, 2015

Somewhere in the North Atlantic right now, a longfin mako shark—a cousin of the storied great white—is cruising around, oblivious to the yellow satellite tag on its dorsal fin.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.