In Memoriam

Charles W. O'Brien

27 March, 1933 - 10 August, 2019

World renowned authority on weevil identification. His collection, along with the Lois O'Brien (his wife) plant hopper collection is now housed at Arizona State University. The digitized portions of the weevil collection can be accessed via ecdysis.

A Conversation with Charlie O'Brien

By Lourdes Chamorro

In 2016, Charlie and Lois O'Brien visited the USNM. This was their second time visiting the nation's collection. The story of their visit and what came, or did not come to be, is irrelevant now.

As most people who worked closely with Charlie know, he loved to talk while you examined the collection – and he loved to tell stories. During his visit, while we were in my office studying weevils and choosing ones for a specimen exchange, I asked if I could record him while he told me these stories. He agreed. I present those recordings.

I thank SEL Museum Specialist Lisa Roberts for the use of her recorder.

Recording 1

Charlie talks about how he learned about Entomology and what led him to enter the field; his early years at U.C. Berkley; and antics of his contemporaries - including a probably little known story about Dan Janzen. Throughout the discussion Chamorro and O'Brien sprinkle the session with discussion of the weevils they are examining under the scope. Charlie also talks about the Spotted Lantern Fly.

Recording 2

The longest, but probably one of the best, of all the recordings (~1.5 hours). The recording starts in the end of a story during his travels to South Africa and Namibia. O'Brien talks about pdfs and publications. At about minute 16:00, O'Brien talks about collecting almost 50,000 weevils in Chile and other parts of South America and the almost loss and demise of the collection during shipment. O'Brien discusses collecting weevils from the leaf litter using a Berlese funnel he designed. Tells of all weevils he found. Around minute 23:00 talks about collecting weevils in pack rat nests in the Florida tropical hardwood hammocks.

Recording 3

The recording captures long periods when O'Brien and Chamorro are looking at specimens under the microscope.

Recording 4

This recording starts with O'Brien's story while in Chile and a close show of force when almost abandoned by their host when his wife, Lois, was not doing well. Chamorro and O'Brien continue the specimen exchange with discussion on various weevils, including some of O'Brien's favorite weevils. At minute 22:15 or so, Charlie talks about an expedition to Ecuador. O'Brien tells about his teaching and collecting experience for the teaching collection in Chile ~ minute 26:00.

The Love Bugs

A short film

Arizona State University Charlie O'Brien Collection