B.U.N.K. Volume 3, Number 1 (1986)

Editorial: The Otiorhynchus ovatus Festschrift Issue

Fellow graduate students always seem to be on the lookout for weevils, and, as I am the resident snoutologist (see previous illustration), it has been on more than one occasion that I have been greeted by a smiling proud face and an extended hand. "I found it on the wall in the bathroom..." or "It was walking across the sidewalk..." or "It was floating in the toilet..." are statements which frequently accompany the gift as I place the treasured prize under the scope. But even before I can get a glimpse of it, I already know that it is likely none other than Otiorhynchus ovatus, the strawberry root weevil, very inappropriately named because they seem to me to be found everywhere one might imagine except on strawberry roots. It is now my turn to look up with an apologetic smile as I attempt to explain to the proud bestower of the gift that the prize with which I have been entrusted is the world's slowest animal and the world's commonest weevil Otiorhynchus ovatus.

But lessons are to be learned from all experiences, and encounters with Otiorhynchus ovatus are no exception. As with common names, scientific names should be carefully selected to embody certain attributes of the animal that allow for its easy recognition. Here is where the lesson is to be learned, for unlike its common name, no scientific name, especially that of the genus, is more appropriate than Otiorhynchus ovatus. Derived from the Latin "otiose" meaning "at leisure; leisurely, without haste; calmly, fearlessly", and the Greek "rhynchus" meaning "snout, nose", the generic name, first introduced by E.F. Germar in 1824(1), could not better embody the most distinctive feature of this taxon, its slothful stride. Our choice of Otiorhynchus ovatus as the B.U.N.K. mascot is in large part due to this attribute, and, as outlined by my esteemed colleague in the previous editorial, to Høwärd's visions of the magnificence of beetles and their universe as seen in the dream-like state induced in him by his first encounter with Otiorhynchus ovatus. This is an animal that for all its unrewarded efforts actually seems to believe that it can get somewhere, and perhaps, maybe even accomplish something. It also attempts to succeed in this q,uest without any gimmicks, illusions or rfancy extras", just through slow, deliberate, small individual steps, many unintentionally retraced and subsequently repeated, perhaps endlessly. The sight of the unrelenting endless uphill struggle made by an individual against gravity, beit on a wall or a sand dune, does something to our spirits as undoubtedly it did to Høwärd's some 535 years ago in Switzerland.

By choosing this creature, we hope to symbolize the pursuit of an understanding of beetles and their universe through similar small, repeated steps, each perhaps individually insignificant, but as a whole, striving for some as yet undetermined goal. This, our third issue, is a pioneering one, and one we are sure that Høwärd would have treasured and held dear to his heart. It is our tribute to a wonderful animal and its ways. Ways we think should be applauded and treasured by all. Readers, it is the Otiorhynchus ovatus Festschrift Issue!! Enjoy, and remember Otiorhynchus ovatus, Høwärd and his dreams, and morare lente!!

Robert S. Anderson
January 1986

1. E.F. Germar may prove to be a descendent of Høwärd Mäcginteesburger, or, perhaps his choice of a name, like so many things fine men do, was visionary!

Copyright © 1986, 1996, David R. Maddison, John H. Acorn, and Robert S. Anderson.