Richard M. Bohart, ESA Fellow (1947)

Dr. Richard M. Bohart (deceased 1 February 2007), a professor at the University of California, Davis (UCD), was elected as Fellow in 1947. Dr. Bohart was UCD’s first ESA Fellow. His scientific research was focused on insect taxonomy and systematics, especially of Hymenoptera.

Dr. Bohart was born in Palo Alto, CA on 28 September 1913. He began collecting butterflies at age seven, an avocation he shared with his younger brother George, also a future entomologist and ESA Fellow. He attended University of California, Berkeley (UCB) receiving three degrees in entomology culminating in his doctorate in 1938. He and his brother played on the UCB football team. In graduate school, he completed his thesis on the twisted-wing parasites (Strepsiptera), and published his first scientific paper on this group in 1936. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Bohart held several academic positions, which were interrupted by the onset of WWII. He taught and studied sod pests at University of California, Los Angeles from 1938–1941. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps in 1941, serving as lieutenant commander of the Pacific Area and Washington, D.C. He joined the UCD faculty in 1946 and chaired the Department of Entomology from 1956–1965. He retired in 1980 as an emeritus professor.

“I have always been an entomologist, from the time I was a little kid,” Bohart said in 2007. He went on to become an authority on mosquitoes and wasps. He was an expert in the taxonomy of mosquitoes in the Pacific Basin and California; and the taxonomy of wasps in the families Sphecidae, Chrysididae, and Vespidae dominated the later two-thirds of his research career.

Bohart’s contribution to insect taxonomy and systematics is unparalleled. His publications include three of the most important books on the systematics of the Hymenoptera. He wrote over 200 journal articles. He has revised many groups of insects, discovered new host-associations or geographic ranges, and described new species in groups such as Strepsiptera, Thysanoptera, Hymenoptera, and Culicidae. Dr. Bohart contributed greatly to the insect collection held by the Department of Entomology at UCD. He and his wife Margaret also contributed many specimens from their collecting trips around the world. In addition to the specimens, he provided generous personal financial support to the collection and assisted in building what is now a major resource for systematic entomology.

Dr. Bohart was honored with several awards during his career. In 1951, he was awarded a Pacific Science Fellowship for a mosquito survey of the Marianas and Ryukyu Islands. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1960. The UCD College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences awarded him with the Award of Distinction in 1997. In 2006 he received the International Society of Hymenopterists Distinguished Research Medal, one of three ever awarded.

(updated August, 2011)