Stuart W. Frost
Like many naturalists, Stuart Frost began his entomological interests early in life. He was born in Tarrytown, New York at a time when there were no electric lights, automobiles, radio or television.
His father was a grocery dealer, and although his parents were not inclined towards natural history, they allowed him to bring live mice, frogs, and insects into the house. Stuart found great entertainment in his observations of the natural world. He would make frequent trips to nearby places to observe wildlife such as dragonflies darting over the water, frogs lurking in the grass, and butterflies feeding on flowers.
During his teens Stuart traveled with his family in the Hudson river region. Many of the insects he collected then are in the Frost Entomological Museum now. Frequent visits were also made to the American Museum of Natural History where he learned much about proper procedures for insect preservation. At the age of 18 he began to document his observations, including notes on how a caddis fly, deprived of sticks for case-making, would build a "glass house" from pieces of mica.
Stuart entered Cornell University in the fall of 1911. In his sophomore year he was fortunate to obtain an assistantship with the famed entomologist J. H. Comstock. In 1918 he produced his first scientific paper which described the biology of a small weevil (Ceutorhynchus marginatus) infesting flower heads of dandelion. After graduation Stuart worked several years at a research station in Arendtsville, PA. In 1925, he completed his Ph.D. at Cornell with a thesis on the leaf-mining Diptera (flies) of North America.
Dr. Frost used his first sabbatical in 1929 to study leaf-mining insects at the Smithsonian Research station at Barro Colorado Island in Panama (see photo). At this time he also traveled to Ecuador to collect insects.
Dr. Frost transferred to Pennsylvania State University (then a college) in 1937 to teach entomology. Along with his teaching and research projects on fruit tree pests, Dr. Frost gathered numerous insects and established for the first time an organized insect reference collection for the Zoology/Entomology Department in the Old Agricultural Building.
Upon retirement in 1957, Dr. Frost's initiative was continued by one of his predecessors, Dr. K. C. Kim. Over the next 13 years Dr. Frost added a further 400,000 specimens and 1,500 species!
Dr. Frost played a pivotal role in establishing and developing the Frost Entomological Museum as one of the major regional collections in the eastern United States. In recognition of his special contribution to the knowledge of the insect fauna of Pennsylvania, and the region in general, the museum was named in his honor in 1969.
The museum continues the work of Dr. Frost by developing the collection with further additions from collectors and survey projects. It is in this capacity that the Frost Entomological Museum will contribute to the future conservation of biodiversity in the 21st century.
Frost, S. W. (1979). Autobiography of an Entomologist. Melsheimer Entomological Series 26, 33-38.
Kim, K. C. (1980). A tribute to Dr. Stuart W. Frost. Bulletin of the Entomological Society of America 26, 138.
Wheeler, A. G. Jr. (1981). Stuart W. Frost: List of publications (1957-80), new names proposed, and species named in his honor. Entomological News 92, 171-176.