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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for HYM Course?
Complete the application form and ask someone familiar with you and your interest in HYM Course to write a letter in support of your application. Applications and letters of support should be sent to Dr. Robert Kula, c/o Department of Entomology, Smithsonian Institution, NMNH, PO Box 37012, Washington DC, 20013-7012, U.S.A. Telephone: 202-633-4558. Email: Robert.Kula[@] Applications and letters of support are due February 29, 2016.

How do I pay for HYM Course?
Participants must pay tuition for the course, as well as meals and lodging, to Highlands Biological Station, by April 29, 2016. Tuition covers the cost of holding the course

Costs for HYM Course 2016
Meals and lodging = US$600
Tuition = US$1000

Please contact Highlands Biological Station for details regarding payment (828-526-2602, acfuller[@],

What is Highlands Biological Station like?
From the Highlands Biological Station website ( The Highlands Biological Station (HBS) was founded in 1927 as a small private research facility by a group of amateur and professional biologists and concerned citizens in the Highlands, North Carolina area. Organized initially as the Highlands Biological Laboratory, Inc., its first laboratory building was built in 1930. The rich diversity of the region attracted researchers working on many different taxa and systems; this led to growing support from the State of North Carolina and the National Science Foundation, with additional labs and dorms built in the 1950s and 60s, land and building acquisition in the 1980s, and further infrastructure and facilities improvements in 2001 and 2012. Highlands, and its immediate surroundings, are arguably the most biologically significant area in the Appalachian Mountains. The Station is located near the crest of the Blue Ridge on a high plateau at an elevation of 4,000 feet (1,200 m); the town advertises itself as the "highest incorporated town east of the Rocky Mountains." It lies just west of the main drainage divide of the eastern part of the continent. Surrounding peaks on the Blue Ridge exceed 5,000 feet (1,500 m) in elevation. The Cowee Mountains lie to the north, and beyond them lie the Balsams. To the northwest are the Great Smoky Mountains, with the Nantahalas to the west, across the Little Tennessee Valley. South and southeast of the Highlands Plateau is a series of river gorges, with the highest waterfalls in eastern North America. These rivers include the Toxaway, Horsepasture, Thompson, Whitewater, and Chattooga. The latter has been designated a National Wild and Scenic River and flows through the Ellicott Rock Wilderness Area a short distance south of the Station. Much of the land in the vicinity of Highlands is part of the Nantahala National Forest. Sections of the Pisgah, Chattahoochee (Georgia), and Sumter (South Carolina) National Forests are nearby.

How do I get to Highlands, North Carolina?

There are three airports around Highlands, North Carolina, ranging from 1.5 to 3 hours away in Asheville, N.C., Greer, S.C., and Atlanta, G.A. The Asheville Regional Airport is 58 miles from the Highlands Biological Station, or 90 minutes. Allegiant, Continental, Delta, United, and US Airways operate at this airport. Atlanta is the largest international hub in the United States, making international travel to this Hym Course quite easy. Shuttle service to Asheville Regional Airport will be provided for HYM Course attendees.

How do I return home from Highlands Biological Station?
Highlands Biological Station will provide a special one-time shuttle service from HBS to Asheville Regional Airport. Participants are responsible for their own transportation to destinations other than Asheville Regional Airport. See the HBS website ( for details on traveling to and from HBS beyond the shuttle service unique to this course.

What do I need to do to prepare for HYM Course?
Preparation for the course is not required. However, acquiring and reading introductory portions of the recommended texts on the "Home" tab of this website, especially Hymenoptera of the World (Goulet and Huber 1993), would be helpful for individuals with little or no entomological background.

Other general references that students might find useful (excluding those on the "Home" tab of this website).
  • Askew, R. R. Parasitic Insects. American Elsevier Publishing Company, Inc., New York. 316 pp.

  • Clausen, C. P. Entomophagous Insects. Hafner Publishing Co., Inc., New York. v-x+688 pp.

  • Gauld, I. and B. Bolton. 1988. The Hymenoptera. Oxford University Press, New York. v-xi+332 pp.

  • Godfray, H. C. J. 1994. Parasitoids: Behavioural and Evolutionary Ecology. Princeton University Press, Princeton. i-ix+473 pp.

  • Hanson, P. E. and I. D. Gauld. 1995. The Hymenoptera of Costa Rica. Oxford University Press, New York. i-xx+893 pp.

  • Hölldobler, R. and E. O. Wilson. 1990. The Ants. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge. i-xii+773 pp.

  • LaSalle, J. and I. D. Gauld. 1993. Hymenoptera and Biodiversity. CAB International, Wallingford. i-xi+348 pp.

  • Michener, C. D. The Bees of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. i-xiv+913 pp.

  • O'Neil, K. M. 2001. Solitary Wasps. Behavior and Natural History. Cornell University Press, Ithaca. i-xiii+406 pp.

  • Quicke, D. L. J. 1997. Parasitic Wasps. Chapman & Hall, London. i-xvii+470 pp.

  • Quicke, D. L. J. 2014. The Braconid and Ichneumonid Parasitoid Wasps: Biology, Systematics, Evolution and Ecology. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester. 704 pp.

  • Raman, A., C. W. Schaefer, and T. M. Withers. Biology, Ecology, and Evolution of Gall-Inducing Arthropods. Volume 2. Science Publishers, Inc., Enfield. i-xviii+817 pp.

  • Shaw, M. R. and T. Huddleston. 1991. Classification and biology of the braconid wasps (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects 7: 1-126.
What taxa are covered in HYM Course?
The following taxa are covered in HYM Course. Coverage for each taxon is at the family-level unless noted in parentheses. Chalcidoidea (subfamily for most), Mymarommatoidea, Ceraphronoidea, Cynipoidea (subfamily and lower), Platygastroidea, Proctotrupoidea, Apoidea, Chrysidoidea, Vespoidea (subfamily for ants), Ichneumonoidea (subfamily), Evanioidea, Megalyroidea, Stephanoidea, Trigonalyoidea, and Symphyta. Please note that while sawflies, woodwasps, bees, and ants are covered in this course to provide a complete view of Hymenoptera, parasitic and predatory wasps are the focus of the course.

What do I need to bring to HYM Course?
Highlands will provide beds; bedding and towels must be brought by course participants. Individuals who have certain supplies of their own are encouraged to bring them. This is especially true with regard to items such as the recommended texts (see "Home" tab of this website), particularly Hymenoptera of the World, insect nets, aspirators, fine forceps, and specimen manipulators. Students are welcome to bring specimens from their projects (preferably dehydrated and mounted) to consult with the instructors on identification as time permits.

The following supplies will be available to all students for use during the course.
Kill jars
Insect pins (#2 & #3)
Point punch, heavy-weight archival paper (e.g., bristol board), and glue for point and card-mounting small specimens
Pinning blocks
Specimen manipulators
Fine forceps
Ethanol for specimen preservation
Gelatin capsules
Insect storage boxes
Label Paper
Indelible ink pens

The following items are things that you are expected to bring.
Notebook for course lectures, labs, and symposium
Pens or pencils
Field notebook [pocket-sized notebook]
Flashlight or headlamp (for nocturnal collecting and walking safely at night)
Coat or jacket
Field clothes (i.e., clothing for which you do not care if it gets wet, stained, or torn)
Sturdy boots or shoes for the field (i.e., footwear for which you do not care if it gets wet, stained, or torn)
Sun block
Alarm clock
Canteen or water bottle
Collecting bag or backpack to carry gear in the field
Paper and zip-top storage bags to collect materials for rearing
Insect repellant (or treat field clothing, at least one set, with a permethrin soak)

The following items are things that you might consider bringing.
Large towel
Swiss Army knife or Leatherman multi-tool
Hand lens
Cash for local personal purchases

Can I keep the specimens I collect during HYM Course?
Yes. Permits are not needed to collect insects on the field station grounds and environs. Pinned specimens or specimens in vials should be placed in checked baggage. Alcohol should be drained from vials so that only the specimens remain in the vials. Participants interested in keeping the specimens they collect will be given a letter explaining what the material is.

The HYM Course Flyer
The HYM Course Flyer

The Entomological Society of Washington (ESW)

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