ZENO PAYNE METCALF (1885-1956)

Fulgoroids

The website DR. METCALF is fittingly named for Zeno Payne Metcalf, whose life's work was inseparably linked to the study of the Auchenorrhyncha. Fascinated by both the scientific and economic aspects of these plant-feeding insects, Z.P. Metcalf amassed the world's most comprehensive collection of literature on the Auchenorrhyncha, including nearly all publications on the group through 1955. This internationally recognized collection, the Zeno P. Metcalf Papers, is now housed at the NCSU Libraries. Based on this literature, Metcalf produced his extraordinary 42-volume "General Catalogue of the Homoptera of the World" and its associated bibliographies (Metcalf 1944-1968). Through this website, this extensive literature collection is taking on a virtual presence.

Metcalf's Doctor of Science diploma

The son of Abel Crawford Metcalf and Catherine (Fulmer) Metcalf, Zeno was born in Lakeville, Ohio, on 1 May 1885. He earned his Bachelor of Arts at Ohio State University in 1907 and his Doctor of Science at Harvard in 1925. His entire professional career was closely identified with North Carolina State College, now known as NC State University, where Metcalf headed the Department of Zoology and Entomology for nearly 40 years (1912-1950) and served as Entomologist to the North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station. Metcalf also served as Director of Graduate Studies for three years and as Associate Dean of the Graduate School for seven years. Advanced students came from afar to study under his direction, and he published three textbooks on zoology. Becoming widely recognized for his catalogue of the Auchenorrhynchous Hemiptera, he brought distinction to himself, his department, and his university.

Metcalf's insect boxes

Nationally, Metcalf served as President of the Entomological Society of America (in the ESA group photo below, Dr. Metcalf is in the front row, third from the left), the Ecological Society of America, and the American Microscopical Society. Internationally, Dr. Metcalf was perhaps best known for his abundant contributions in insect systematics. Among these, the General Catalogue of the Homoptera, was of utmost importance as a foundation for further research on this group. After Dr. Metcalf passed away (5 January 1956), his devoted assistant, Virginia Wade Burnside, and his successor, David A. Young, completed the publication of this monumental series.

Metcalf's library contained every word published on the Auchenorrhyncha through 1955, including many early works with wonderful hand-colored plates. His library and his extensive, worldwide collection of specimens of this group were donated to NC State University. Metcalf's literature collection contributes greatly to the rich entomological holdings of the NCSU Libraries' Special Collections. His specimens form the nucleus of the present-day NCSU Insect Collection, which now holds in excess of 200,000 pinned Auchenorrhyncha and nearly 1.4 million prepared insect specimens overall. We invite users to browse the holdings of the Collection through links under the Images section of the five major groups within the Auchenorrhyncha.

Entomological Society of America

Besides being a prolific researcher, devoted teacher, and respected administrator, Dr. Metcalf was an accomplished illustrator. He enjoyed fishing, gardening, and collecting insects. His homemade camper on wheels demonstrated that he was really ahead of his times. His wife, Luella, and daughter, Katherine, frequently joined him on collecting trips.

Metcalf's book "An Introduction to Zoology"Entomologists owe a great debt to Z. P. Metcalf for his accuracy and thoroughness in compiling what many consider to be the most excellent catalogs and bibliographies ever produced for a major group of insects. Dr. Metcalf always carried his penknife, a magnesium medallion, and, for luck, an Ohio buckeye. Lucky are we that he recognized the value of publishing bibliographies and catalogues, and that he chose to study the Auchenorrhyncha. Dr. Metcalf's legacy lives on in the form of research contributions, his library, and his insect collection--all of which continue to advance the study of insects. Thus, it is most appropriate that today's students should consult DrMetcalf to find information on the insects he loved.

Zeno Payne Metcalf prepared by L. L. Deitz. 1 December 2008.

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