Photo of Raymond Shannon

Raymond was born in Washington, D.C., on October 4, 1894. Orphaned as a child, he was fortunate to have two outstanding entomologists, John R. Malloch and Frederick Knab, living in the home of his foster mother, Mrs. Susan McCormick. They helped direct his interests towards entomology. Not much is known of his early life, but he left school in 1912 and entered government work as a student assistant in Knab's office in the U.S. Bureau of Entomology. He was a born naturalist; bright, eager, and appreciative, and everyone was glad to aid him.

Although Raymond specialized on the Diptera, two of his most helpful friends were the coleopterists E. A. Schwarz and H. S. Barber. Shannon often accompanied them to Plummers Island, Maryland, and became an adept student of entomology and collector of insects. Shannon gradually advanced in the Bureau until his departure for college in 1916. All his friends in the Bureau helped him prepare for Cornell. His schooling was interrupted by service in the Sanitary Corps in World War I. He returned to government service in 1921 and received his BS degree from Cornell in 1925. During the next few years, he made expeditions to Panama to study mosquitoes, did graduate work at George Washington University, and studied insects of importance to public health in Argentina.

In 1927, he was employed by the Rockefeller Foundation as a special member of the International Health Division to study the mosquitoes of Brazil, jungle yellow fever, and malaria transmitted by Anopheles gambiae. From Brazil he wrote in 1930 that "Since returning I made another trip and now have amoebiasis again, also hookworm, schizostomiasis, round worms, and giardia. This business of wading around for gambiae larvae gets into your blood in more ways than one." In March 1930, he collected African A. gambiae in Natal, Brazil. His recommendations for exterminating these mosquitoes went unheeded at the time; when some years later the campaign was undertaken, it was at a much greater cost because of the extent of the area infested.

In his early years he was interested in the taxonomy of syrphid flies, botflies, and blowflies; later he became more involved in the ecology of biting flies as vectors of diseases. His work on mosquitoes carried him from Brazil to Argentina, Peru, and Trinidad. He also went to Greece to study the Tabanidae. In some of these South American countries he investigated verruga fever. In 1938, he demonstrated the transmission of yellow fever by Haemagogus, Aedes leucocelaenus, and other mosquitoes in South America. Suffering from mosquito-home dengue fever, from pain caused by a tumor on his arm, and from insomnia, Shannon died from an overdose of drugs on March 7, 1945, at the age of fifty, and was buried in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. McAtee and Wade in a tribute to him say he died "a martyr to the hazards of medical entomology."

Raymond was elected to membership in the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1914 and was awarded an honorary membership in 1942.