Adventures of a grasshopper and cricket lover
Otte, tall and athletic-looking despite his age, has spent four decades traveling the worldand risking life and limb in the processto study, categorize and classify insects. One of six children of Lutheran missionaries, Otte was raised in Zululand, (now kwaZulu-Natal) South Africa, where the bush was his playground. He attended boarding school at Deutsche Schule in Hermannsburg, and Echowe High School in Zululand.
Following family tradition, he made his way to Iowa where he attended Luther College as a freshman, then transferred to the University of Michigan in the early 1960s, thinking he would study mammal behavior. Instead, a professor, noted entomologist Richard Alexander, suggested North American grasshoppershistorically, one of humankind's major competitors and, thus, an economically important insect. Otte packed his notebook and tape recorder (there were no video cameras), and he never looked back.
"At the time, a lot was known about grasshoppers, but little of the knowledge was summarized, and there were no catalogs to the fauna," Otte said. "I decided to write a comprehensive manual to all of the species." Little did he know where this path would lead.
During his remarkable career, Otte so far has described more than 125 new genera and more than 1,500 new species of crickets, grasshoppers and other insects. He has faced hostile soldiers in Botswana, rubbed elbows with poisonous plants in Fiji, and fallen off a cliff in Hawaiiall to collect insects. He has added thousands of new specimens to the Academy's entomological collection and to other institutions around the world. He has vastly expanded the knowledge of insects through his publications, including more than 300 scientific articles and 18 books on the taxonomy, evolution, system
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The Academy of Natural Sciences