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Phillip A. Adams  (1929-1998)
Phillip Anthony Adams, 1929-1998. Phillip Anthony Adams was born in Los Angeles, California, USA, on 13 January 1929, to Dr. Edwin Brown Adams and Jane Mabelle (McPherson) Adams. Edwin Adams was a successful dentist in Los Angeles. Phil was the youngest of three boys: Edwin Brown Adams, Jr., Joseph Lee Adams, and Phillip Anthony Adams. Like so many of us, Phil held a deep and life-long interest in insects and the natural world. A story recently recounted by his brother Joseph poignantly recalls the early development of this interest. Eight-year-old Phil had been missing all day and his family was growing quite worried. The police had been summoned, but Phil was nowhere to be found. Late in the day Phil appeared at home unharmed and completely unaware of the stir that he had caused. When asked about his whereabouts, he replied that he had been using his magnifying glass to observe the home of a trapdoor spider – he had waited all day for the spider to lift its trapdoor and emerge! Phil attended public schools in the city of Los Angeles. While attending Los Angeles High School, he won a talent scholarship that permitted him to concurrently attend the Otis & Chounard School of Art in Los Angeles. This experience and training served as the foundation of the bioillustration skills for which he became widely known. After graduating from high school in 1947, Phil entered the University of California, Berkeley, and served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He spent one year teaching chemical, biological, and radiological warfare at the infantry basic training center in Fort Ord, California. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Entomology from Berkeley in 1951. It was in 1950, however, that two important events occurred that foreshadowed his later career and research interest in the insects of the order Neuroptera. The first of these was his service as a Field Associate with the Pacific Science Board. During the summer of 1950, under the auspices of this Board, he conducted an insect survey of Ponape island (Caroline Islands). This experience undoubtedly served as an early stimulus and background for the research that would later be required for his 1959 paper on the Chrysopidae and Myrmeleontidae of Micronesia (Adams 1959). The second, and most important, event was the publication of his first scientific paper (Adams 1950) – a short note on the rare North American ithonid Oliarces clara Banks. Oliarces clara had been described by Nathan Banks in 1908 from a single specimen collected at "Walter’s Station", California. It was, in 1950, the only ithonid known from outside of Australia. During the 40 years following its original description, however, no one had been able to re-locate the Walter’s Station type locality (the site is now known to have been an early watering stop along the Southern Pacific railroad line; now called Mecca, it is located approximately 13 kilometers northwest of the Salton Sea in southern California), and there was considerable speculation that O. clara might actually be an Australian species whose unique specimen had been erroneously labeled. The validity of that speculation was dashed on the evening of 25 April 1949 (erroneously stated as 25 May 1949 in Adams 1950) when C. Don MacNeill, collecting at lights near Parker Dam (a town and dam site in San Bernardino County, California, located on the lower Colorado River separating Arizona and southern California), grabbed a rapidly flying insect that had hit his sheet. Puzzled by the specimen, which he was unable to identify even to order, MacNeill took it to a meeting of the Pacific Coast Entomological Society where Phil recognized it as the mysterious Oliarces clara. The specimen subsequently became the subject of Phil’s brief note about this species. Phil later stated that it was this paper, which had caught the attention of Nathan Banks and Frank Carpenter, the two principle North American neuropterists at that time, that had led to his being accepted into graduate school at the prestigious Harvard University, and that was probably largely responsible for his life-long career as a Neuroptera systematist. David K. Faulkner has since made important contributions to our knowledge of the biology of O. clara. On 30 April 1993, D.K. Faulkner and R.L. Allen took Phil to witness the spectacular mass emergence and hilltopping flight of this elusive species, allowing him to see in the field for the first time the living insect that had helped to direct his career 43 years previously. Watching the insects alight and scurry about like cockroaches in search of cover was delightfully entertaining, and the experience was a cherished memory for the trio. Following the publication of his Oliarces paper and the completion of his B.S. degree, Phil left California in 1951 to begin graduate studies on the Neuroptera under the guidance of Frank Carpenter at Harvard University. While in Massachusetts, Phil served as a Teaching Fellow at Harvard (1951-52, 1955, 1957-58) and as an Instructor at the Army Medical Service School in Boston (1953-54, 1958). He received his A.M. and Ph.D. in Biology in 1958. His largely unpublished Ph.D. dissertation (Adams 1958a) contains an important discussion of venation and wing structure in the Neuroptera, particularly within the Myrmeleontoidea, for which he suggested an ancestor among or closely related to the Osmylidae. The dissertation also contains important early observations on morphological changes that have occurred in some myrmeleontoid taxa with respect to pronotal and abdominal articulations and pretarsal alterations. In 1960 Phil was employed as a Biology Instructor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was soon hired as an Assistant Professor of Biology (1960-63). From there he found employment at Orange State College, Fullerton (later renamed California State College, Fullerton, then California State University, Fullerton [CSUF]) where he worked for the remainder of his academic career. At Fullerton he served as an Assistant Professor (1963-1965), Associate Professor (1965-1971) and full Professor (1971-1991) of Biology. In the spring of 1967 he served as an Associate Professor of Marine Biology with the World Campus Afloat, operated by Chapman College (now Chapman University) in Orange, California. During 1968-69 he also served as a visiting Associate Professor of Biology and Visiting Associate Curator of Insects at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University. It was during this latter period that he undertook research on the three papers (Adams 1969a, 1969c, 1970a) that were subsequently published in the Peabody Museum’s publication series Postilla. During his tenure at CSUF Phil taught at least 14 different courses: Animal Systematics, Bioillustration, Biological Control, Crisis Biology, Evolution, General Entomology, General Zoology, History of Science, Insects & Man, Introduction to Biology, Invertebrate Zoology, Marine Biology, Photomicrography, and Research in Entomology. He was known as a challenging but fair instructor who strongly believed in student research. He served as an advisor, formally and informally, for many students of the Neuroptera, among them Catherine A. (Toschi) Tauber (Ph.D. dissertation), David K. Faulkner (M.S. thesis), Charles S. Henry (Ph.D. dissertation), Craig LaMunyon (M.A. thesis) and Robert L. Allen (M.A. thesis). Throughout his career Phil maintained active memberships in a wide variety academic and scientific societies, including: American Institute for the Advancement of Science, Association Mondiale des Nevropteristes (President 1987-1991), Cambridge Entomological Club, Entomological Society of America, Lorquin Entomological Society, Phi Beta Kappa, Sociedad Mexicana de Entomologicos, Sociedade Brasileira de Entomologia, Sigma Xi, Southern California Academy of Sciences, and Western Society of Naturalists. One of Phil’s defining traits was his superb capability as a scientific illustrator. His clear and detailed pen and ink illustrations appear in most of his many publications, and he was always willing to provide advice to others for improving their illustrations and technique. The Bioillustration course that he taught at CSUF to a student audience of biology and art students was a rigorous venture in which he expounded on the differences between biological illustration and artwork as scientific documentation versus artistic interpretation. Biology students in the class learned artistic techniques with some trepidation, while art students were fearful of learning the biology required to record what they saw. In the end though, both types of students benefited from the course and its instructor. Phil’s high standards of illustration positively influenced the efforts of a generation of neuropteran researchers and students. Superior illustrations and photos were imperative and quality was never to be compromised. When reviewing a manuscript, Phil went directly to the illustrations – they were his test of the quality of the presentation. He was also quite rigorous in how terminalic preparations should be prepared, stained, studied and preserved. Phil maintained that although proper preparations and figures required considerable time and effort, they substantially augmented ones scientific contributions by resulting in better-described and better-illustrated species. Researchers, he felt, should aspire to a legacy of excellence in these areas that would endure well beyond their own lifetimes. It is not surprising, then, that Phil’s legacy in neuropteran systematics is important for its quality. Phil's principal professional interests were in evolution, comparative morphology and the systematics of the Neuroptera (sensu lato). Early in his career, however, he also published on the behavioral aspects of temperature regulation in insects, notably saturniid and sphingid moths (Adams 1969b; Adams & Heath 1962, 1964a, b, 1965, 1967, 1969), and even a short note on a gelastocorid (Hemiptera; Adams 1951). Phil’s early publications on the Neuroptera include works on a variety of families, including the Ascalaphidae (1962b; Eisner & Adams 1975), Berothidae (MacLeod & Adams 1967), Coniopterygidae (1973a, b), Dilaridae (1970a), Ithonidae (Adams 1950), Myrmeleontidae (Adams 1956c, 1957, 1959) and Osmylidae (1969a, 1971). Of these, the most significant are his review, with Ellis MacLeod, of the higher taxonomy of the Berothidae (MacLeod & Adams 1967), his revision of the New World Dilaridae (Adams 1970a), and his first osmylid work (Adams 1969a), which contained a general hypothesis about the evolution and modification of the principal male terminalic elements within the Neuropterida. Phil’s true passion, however, was the family Chrysopidae, the familiar green lacewings, on which he became the leading authority for the New World fauna. Phil’s interest in the green lacewings emerged early in his career and he published two papers on this family during his graduate student years (Adams 1956a, b). His most important early contribution to this family was his review of the extant and fossil members of the "primitive" subfamilies Mesochrysinae and Nothochrysinae (Adams 1967), a small group of species to which he later added two additional genera (Adams & Penny 1992a, b). After working out these small subfamilies, he turned his attention to the fauna of the New World Chrysopini, which had been left in extreme disarray by the numerous imprecise chrysopid descriptions published by Longinos Navás during the early 1900’s. Phil was one of the first to recognize the importance of Bo Tjeder’s monumental 1966 work on the chrysopids of southern Africa, a work that is especially significant for its extensive use of male terminalic elements to diagnose genera and subgenera within a large chrysopid fauna. Before Tjeder’s monograph was published, nearly all chrysopids placed within the externally homogeneous tribe Chrysopini were contained in a single genus, Chrysopa, of unwieldy proportions. Hundreds of "Chrysopa" species had been described, and had often been based on trivial differences in external morphology that are now known not to differentiate species. Prior to Phil’s work, the classification of the New World "Chrysopa" fauna was in chaos and reliable identifications were nearly impossible. Phil began a slow and deliberate program of carefully clearing and stained the genitalia of the type specimens of all of the New World chrysopids that he could locate, several times travelling to Boston, Washington, London, Paris, and Barcelona to obtain and examine materials. Then, using Tjeder’s concepts of male terminalic elements, he began to redefine genus- and species-group taxa, to reassign species to appropriate generic taxa, and to document synonyms. It became clear that some New World species clearly belonged to groups also found in the Old World, e.g., to the genera Chrysopa, Chrysoperla, Mallada (now Pseudomallada) and Nineta in their newly restricted senses. Other, strictly New World, groups of species also became evident. In 1975 Phil resurrected and redescribed the genus Ungla based on new terminalic criteria. In 1978 he created the new subgenus Mallada (Triadochrysa). In 1982 he defined and described the genera Ceraeochrysa and Plesiochrysa. In 1987 Adams and Penny redefined the genus Chrysopodes based on male terminalic elements and described the new subgenus (Neosuarius). The genus Meleoma had always been recognized by distinctive male cranial horns and other structures located on the male head between and below the antennae. Phil studied the male terminalia of Meleoma and realized that several species that lacked the distinctive horns also shared the same suite of male terminalic components and should be included in Meleoma on this basis. He also discovered the presence of a stridulatory structure on the basal abdominal segments of several species in this genus. Phil pointed out these characters to "Kady" (Toschi) Tauber, who incorporated them into her 1969 revision of Meleoma. Today, Ceraeochrysa and Chrysopodes are recognized as the two largest genera of the tribe Chrysopini found in the neotropics. Without Phil’s fundamental descriptive and taxonomic work on these and other green lacewing taxa, it would be impossible to make the accurate identifications that will be required to conduct important biological and ecological work on these species, and to investigate their potential significance as biological control agents on the tropical crops on which they commonly occur. Phil was actively engaged in several chrysopid projects at the time of his death. These included a comprehensive revision of the New World Belonopterygini, and descriptions of a variety of new taxa. The day Phil died, R.L. Allen was in the field searching for additional specimens of an undescribed species of Yumachrysa that Allen had discovered locally. Just two days prior to his passing, Phil had asked him to collect more specimens of the species so that they could jointly describe it. Phil’s work on the New World chrysopid fauna will be continued by Norm Penny, who collaborated with and co-authored most of Phil’s chrysopid papers over the last few years. As part of his neuropteran studies, Phil developed a personal reference collection of about 8500 neuropteran specimens, almost all of which were collected in North, Central and South America. Phil collected extensively in the southwestern United States and Honduras, and over the years, had bought numerous Chilean specimens from Luis E. Peña G., and smaller amounts of material from Fritz Plaumann in southern Brazil and F.H. Walz in Argentina. Many valuable specimens were also obtained in exchange for identification services. Phil was a bibliophile and amassed a significant collection of original Neuroptera reference materials, ranging from Cuvier (1832), Rambur (1842), Schneider (1843) and Walker (1853) to many of the original works of Brauer and Navás. His collection is also particularly strong in publications treating insect wing venation. The collection also contains many non-neuropteran items – for example, a complete set of the published volumes of D’Abrera’s Butterflies of the World. Phil had a number of "outside" talents and interests that were not well known to his professional colleagues. He loved playing and listening to fine music. He played classical guitar, lute and recorder, and was an active member of the Recorder Society based in the Fullerton area. He and his ensemble even played at his own party upon his retirement from CSUF! He was an avid photographer and left hundreds of slides and prints, primarily of Neuroptera specimens and types. He had a great love of the sea and sailing, which included skin- and scuba-diving. He volunteered (as Captain, crew, and maintenance) aboard the Argus, a topsail ketch built in 1905 and owned by the Sea Scouts of Newport Beach, California. Phil had a subtle sense of humor unknown to casual acquaintants. In the 1950s, at the height of the infamous anti-communist "Red Scare" sentiment that arose in the United States, the University of California required its professors to sign an oath opposing communism. Phil daringly responded by naming a new species of antlion, Hesperoleon fidelitas [now Scotoleon fidelitas] ("Little Fidel") after Cuban leader, Fidel Castro (Adams 1956 [1957]). He struck again in 1985 [1987] with publication of a new species of lacewing, Ceraeochrysa michaelmuris Adams & Penny 1985 [1987] ("Mickey Mouse") because its protruding gonapsis lobes look like the large rounded ears of the world’s most famous Disney character. Failing health forced Phil to retire from CSUF in 1991, but he returned often to pursue his research and to teach his Bioillustration course. He died of a fatal heart attack at 11:00 PM, Sunday, 12 July 1998, while at his home reading a book in bed. He had a history of heart difficulties that had led to multiple heart surgeries in the years before his death. Phil was a confirmed bachelor who never married. He is survived by his older brother Joseph L. Adams, sister-in-law Kathryn Adams, niece Deborah Ann and nephew Timothy Lee. "Brownie" Adams, his eldest brother, died in 1943 at an internment camp in the Philippines during World War II. Phil's memorial service was held on board the Argus on Sunday, 2 August 1998, at 1:00 PM. Attendees boarded the Argus, sailed west and spread his ashes on the sea that he loved. Phil’s will specified that all of his entomological specimens, books and related equipment were to be donated to the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, under the care of Norman D. Penny. Phil’s policy was to not retain primary types in his personal collection, and these had previously been donated over the years to appropriate public collections – primarily Harvard University and the California Academy of Sciences. His tools and sailing gear were willed to the Sea Scouts, and his nautical books and memorabilia were given to the Maritime Museum in San Diego, California. With Phil’s passing the neuropterological community has lost an important researcher and an invaluable colleague. Neuropterists are few in number, and fewer still are those who possess the stamina and fortitude to tackle a morass on the scale of the New World chrysopine chrysopids, one of the most taxonomically and nomenclaturally difficult of all groups within the order Neuroptera. Phillip A. Adams was such a man, and our science will long benefit from his sacrifice and dedication. Robert L. Allen, Department of Biological Science California State University, P.O. Box 6850, Fullerton, CA 92834-6850, USA Norman D. Penny, Department of Entomology, California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA John D. Oswald, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-2475, USA

AffiliationCalifornia State University Fullerton (1963-1991), U.C. Santa Barbara (1960-63), Harvard (PhD 1958), U.C. Berkeley (BS 1951)
Label AbbreviationP.A. Adams
Other NamesP.A. Adams

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