We noticed this gollywhopper the other night.

The gollywhopper was perched on a vertical wall in downtown Oak Bluffs.

It was a dark and foggy night.

But we were not afeered, and sogered on.

Most folks call this critter a crane fly. Some call it a mosquito hawks or a mosquito eater. Others call this big, slightly ferocious creature a “wolf mosquito”. Yet others call it a gallinipper or a gollywhopper. Gollywhopper is a great name, and deserves greater use.

In scientific latinspeak, this insect is one of over 4,250 members of the family Tipulidae. Believe it or not, most of the members of this family were described by one University of Massachusetts entomologist.

The U Mass entomologist was Charles Paul Alexander. He was born in 1889, and died in 1981. His University education was at Cornell. After working at the University of Kansas and at the University of Illinois, he came to the Massachusetts Agricultural College, in Amherst, Massachusetts. There, he was Professor of Entomology.

He must have been an amazing man. He primarily worked with Diptera, the “flies”, and specialized in the Tipulidae, the crane fly family. In his lifetime, he described over 11,000 species and genera of flies.

That total comes to approximately a species description a day for his entire career.

What a working life.



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