Leland Ossian Howard, Ph.D., M.D. (June 11, 1857 in
Rockford, Illinois Rockford is a U.S. city in Winnebago County, Illinois, located in the far northern Illinois, northern part of the state. Situated on the banks of the Rock River (Illinois), Rock River, Rockford is the county seat of Winnebago County (a small port ...
– May 1, 1950), was a pioneer American
entomologist upright=1.2, A Phyllium sp., mimicking a leaf Entomology () is the scientific study of insect Insects or Insecta (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European ...
who worked in the
US Department of Agriculture The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), also known as the Agriculture Department, is the United States federal executive departments, federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farmin ...
. Serving as the chief of the bureau of entomology, a successor to C.V. Riley, he helped establish economic entomology as a profession in the United States and strengthened research activities, helping establish laws to prevent the introduction of agricultural pests. He was a specialist on the Hymenopteran family Chalcididae, which are parasitic and contributed to the introduction of biological control agents for pest management. Howard also took an interest in medical entomology.

Early life

Howard was born to Ossian Gregory Howard, a lawyer, and Lucy Denham Thurber on 11 June 1857. His relatives from his mother's side included the Harvard astronomer E.C. Pickering while other distant relatives included Senator J.M. Howard and President
William Howard Taft William Howard Taft (September 15, 1857March 8, 1930) was the 27th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president dire ...

William Howard Taft
. Shortly after his birth, the family moved from Rockford, to
Ithaca, New York Ithaca is a city and college town in the Finger Lakes region of New York, United States. It is the seat of Tompkins County, as well as the largest community in the Ithaca–Tompkins County metropolitan area A metropolitan area or metro ...
where his father worked with a law firm. Howard attended Ithaca Academy. An interest in insect collecting encouraged by his parents with the gift of ''The Butterfly Hunters'' by Mary Treat at the age of 10 followed by more books and at the age of 13, along with another collector friend, recorded the introduction of the European cabbage butterfly (''
Pieris rapae ''Pieris rapae'' is a small- to medium-sized butterfly species of the whites-and-yellows family (biology), family Pieridae. It is known in Europe as the small white, in North America as the cabbage white or cabbage butterfly, on several continent ...
'') in the Catskill region. Along with his friends, he founded the Ithaca Natural History Society to meet and discuss papers and insects. While out collecting one day, he met
John Henry Comstock
John Henry Comstock
, who invited him to his lab at
Cornell University Cornell University ( ) is a private, statutory, Ivy League and land-grant research university in Ithaca, New York. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, the university was intended to teach and make contributions in a ...
. Howard enrolled in Cornell in September 1873, three years after the death of his father, and following the advice of his mother's friends, went to study civil engineering. Doing poorly in differential calculus made him drop engineering and he began to study other subjects including French, German, and Italian. He then joined Comstock's lab as the first research student and graduated in June 1877 with a thesis on respiration in the larva of '' Corydalis cornutus''. He worked with Burt Green Wilder and Simon Henry Gage and received a masters at Cornell. In the 1880s, he also attended Columbian College (now George Washington University) for medicine, although he didn't complete it. He however received an honorary MD from the same university in 1911 for his contribution to medical entomology.


In July 1878, on the recommendation of Professor Comstock, he applied for a post in the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an assistant entomologist to C.V. Riley. The salary was low ($100/month) and despite advice against joining it from many friends and family, he took up the job. Among his first tasks was to prepare a manual on sericulture which was published with Riley as the author. Riley was replaced by Professor Comstock and again many of his writings went under the authorship of Comstock. This was accepted practice and Howard changed this practice when he rose in authority and ensured that all his co-workers were appropriately credited, and he eventually became chief of the Bureau of Entomology in 1894. He held the position until 1 October 1927. He continued to consult the Bureau until officially retiring on 30 June 1931. He worked on the systematics of the parasitic Hymenoptera, Biological pest control, biological control, and medical entomology of mosquitoes and flies. He was the editor of ''Insect Life'', lecturer on entomology at several colleges and universities, and a contributor to reference books on the subject of entomology. He was made permanent secretary of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, honorary curator in the Smithsonian Institution, United States National Museum, and consulting entomologist of the Public Health Service. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 and since 1907 was a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America.

Personal life

Howard married Marie T. Clifton in 1886, "a girl with a glorious soprano voice", who he met while singing in a choir at college. They had three daughters. Howard was known for his interests in sports.


McClure, Phillips & co., 1901
''The Insect Book''
Doubleday, Page & Company, 1901
''The House Fly-Disease Carrier''
Frederick A. Stokes company, 1911
''Mosquitoes of North and Central America and the West Indies''
Authors Leland Ossian Howard, Harrison Gray Dyar Jr., Frederick Knab, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1917 *''The Insect Menace'', Century, 1931
''Fighting the insects: the story of an entomologist''
MacMillan, 1933 (autobiography)



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External links

National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir
* * {{DEFAULTSORT:Howard, Leland Ossian 1857 births 1950 deaths American entomologists American male journalists Columbian College of Arts and Sciences alumni American science writers Writers from Rockford, Illinois Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumni Smithsonian Institution people Fellows of the Entomological Society of America