Abraham Ezra Michelbacher (1899 - 1991)

An accomplished entomologist, field ecologist, collector of beetles and bees, and researcher and teacher of biological control and integrated pest management, Dr Michelbacher contributed significantly to myriapodology through his publications on Symphyla, on which he became a leading authority. He published 11 papers on the taxonomy, ecology and control of Symphyla, and described 18 new species, 9 in Symphylella, 7 in Scutigerella, and 1 each in Hansienella and Symphyllelopsis.

He was born in riverside, California, received his bachelor's degree at the University of California at Riverside and his Master's and Ph.D. degrees at UC-Berkeley, subsequently joining the Entomology department at the latter university.

He collected insects extensively in California and Mexico, particularly Baja California, and occasionally collected larger myriapods, including the types of Californiulus dorsovittatus Verhoeff and 4 other species for which he received patronyms: Onychelus michelbacheri Verhoeff, 1938, now in Atopetholus (Diplopoda, Spirobolida, Athopetolidae); Scolopendra michelbacheri Verhoeff, 1938 (Chilopoda, Scolopendromorpha, Scolopendridae); Californibolus michelbacheri Verhoeff, 1944, now a synonym of Tylobolus uncigerus (Wood) (Diplopoda, Spirobolida, Spirobolidae); and Incorya michelbacheri Chamberlin, 1955 (Chilopoda, Geophilomorpha, Oryidae).

Dr Michelbacher had retired and become inactive when I began working on California myriapods in 1984, so I never had the pleasure of meeting him and thus do not know why he sent specimens to Verhoeff in Germany during the 1930's-40's and only later to Chamberlin in Utah, when both Chamberlin and Loomis were active during the earlier years and publishing profusely on American Myriapods. Judging from the biography by Chemsak et al. (1992, Pan-Pacific Entom., 68 : 225-242), Dr Michelbacher was a broad, dedicated entomologist and a warm friendly person, a scholar and a gentleman.

Rowland M. Shelley, March 1994
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