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The Offical Seal of the ESW
The story of the discovery of Rheumatobates rileyi Bergroth and its subsequent portrayal on
the cover of our proceedings is an interesting one.
This small water strider was first mentioned in 1891 by Reverend J. L. Zabriskie (Jour. N. Y.
Micro. Soc. 7: 128- 129, 1 fig.) in an article entitled "A curious, unknown, aquatic,
hemipterous larva." Then, in 1892, there appeared anonymously (Insect Life 4: 198) a complete
description and excellent illustration of this bug, but it remained unnamed. On the basis of this
description, Bergroth proposed the name Rheumatobates rileyi, new genus and species without
further description (Insect Life 4: 321). All of the above references dealt with apterous forms.
Otto Heidemann, specialist in Hemiptera, with the old Bureau of Entomology, collected the
first winged specimens near Glen Echo, Maryland in 1893. Mr. Heidemann, who, in addition to
his other talents, was a gifted engraver, made a handsome woodcut of a fully winged male.
This figure appeared for the first time on the cover of volume 3, number 1 of our Proceedings
(issued March 8, 1894).
The cut appeared continuously through 1920. It is mentioned in Mr. Heidemann's obituary in
1916 (Proc. Ent. Soc. Wash. 18: 202) that the illustration had been adopted as the official seal
of our society. However, I am unable to verify this from the minutes of these early meetings.
The seal was dropped from the cover in 1921, presumably because the woodblock needed
replacing. Later a photograph of the seal was made and a new illustration appeared on the June
1937 issue and has appeared continuously since then. Because much detail in the original has
been lost, I have redrawn the seal, based on specimens from Glen Echo, and had a new cut
made. The results can be seen on the cover of this issue.
The seal is widely recognized as a symbol of our society. As an example, one of the late
Professor H. B. Hungerford's favorite exam questions was, "Name the society whose official
seal is Rheumatobates rileyi?" – EDITOR - Jon L. Herring
Official Seal of the ESW