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John Early

Position title:
​Curator of Entomology
Natural Sciences
Contact John

About John

I am the Museum's Curator of Entomology, moving north in 1992 after growing up in the South Island and working at Lincoln University for 13 years. I am responsible for the curation, care and development of the insect collection at the Museum, where the specimens date back to 1839 and are added to almost daily. I'm interested in all aspects of New Zealand natural science and how our fauna and flora fit in with other parts of the world and communicating this to a wider public.

Research interests and projects

I am a taxonomist concerned with documenting the unique fauna of New Zealand's insects particularly the parasitic wasps. These are mostly tiny insects less than 5mm long which lay their eggs in or on the eggs, larvae or pupae of other insects. After hatching they consume and destroy their host. I also have had a long interest in the kelp flies (Coelopidae), which speed up the decay of seaweed stranded on the shore, and their parasites.

Projects include:

  • baseline insect surveys of off shore islands (the Aldermen Is, Cuvier I., Great Barrier I) in conjunction with the Department of Conservation
  • collecting, documenting and describing parasitic wasps in the Diaprioidea, Platygastroidea and Proctotrupoidea and elucidating their host relationships
  • unravelling the complex relationships between NZ parasitic wasps and those in South America and Australia
  • researching the kelp flies and their parasites in NZ and Tasmania, and establishing baseline information for studying the effects of climate change in Tasmania

I work with colleagues both here in New Zealand and internationally.

Selected research projects

  • Early, J.W. 2022. Mason wasps (Pison species, Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Crabronidae) in Aotearoa New Zealand.  Records of the Auckland Museum 56: 63-68.

  • Early, J.W. 2019. Establishment of the green lacewing Mallada basalis (Walker, 1853) (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae) on mainland New Zealand. Records of the Auckland Museum 54: 81-86.

  • Early, J. (2014). Establishment of two Neurogalesus Kieffer, 1907 species (Hymenoptera: Diapriidae: Diapriinae) in New Zealand. Records of the Auckland Museum, 49: 15-20.
  • Ward, D., Early, J., Schnitzler, F., Hitchmough, R. & Stringer, I. (2012). The conservation status of New Zealand Hymenoptera. New Zealand Entomologist, 35(2): 116-119.
  • Early, J., Masner, L. & Johnson, N. (2007). Revision of Archaeoteleia Masner (Hymenoptera: Platygastroidea, Scelionidae). Zootaxa, 16555:1-48.
  • Early, J. (2000). Fig wasps (Hymenoptera: Agaonidae and Torymidae) in New Zealand. New Zealand Entomologist, 23: 27-32.
  • Early, J., Masner, L., Nauman, I. & Austin, A. (2001). Maamingidae. A new family of proctotrupoid wasp (Insecta: Hymenoptera) from New Zealand. Invertebrate Taxonomy, 15: 341-352.

Explore the collection

Read articles by John.

The Shannon butterfly collection

Ray Shannon started collecting butterflies while stationed in the Solomon Islands during the Second World War. In 2008 he gifted his collection of more than 13,000 specimens to Auckland Museum where it is used by entomologists (and border officials) for butterfly identification and classification.