HENRY LORENZ VIERECK

Photo of Henry Viereck

The youngest of five children, Henry was born in Philadelphia, on March 28, 1881. His father, John A., immigrated to the United States in 1856 and was wounded at the second Battle of Bull Run.

Both young Henry and J. A. G. Rehn were known as Charles W. Johnson's "boys." Johnson was museum curator of the Wagner Free Institute of Science in Philadelphia and an excellent teacher of natural history. The boys collected not only insects, but also birds, mollusks, and reptiles; one of their favorite collecting spots was on the slopes of the Blue Ridge on the farm of a Pennsylvania Dutch family at Lehigh Gap.

Henry was educated in Philadelphia public schools and later in Brown's Preparatory School, where he did not finish. He enlisted under age in the Spanish-American War, almost dying of typhoid in a Georgia army camp. His mother died while he was convalescing and a few years later "his kindly, white-bearded father, beloved by all the son's boyhood friends, was killed by an express train at Lehigh Gap."

According to Rehn, "The crusader spirit was always strong in him, in his scientific studies and in his personal attitude toward social and political problems of the day. Compromise with wrong or injustice was unthinkable to him, and his strong convictions and demand for what he considered fair dealing more than once caused him to shift the scene of his activities. While a blithesomeness, which his old associates will never forget, was one of his chief possessions, tragedy stalked through his life, loved ones were taken from him with startling suddenness . . ."

When in 1900 he became a Jessup student of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia he spent many hours studying the Cresson types of Hymenoptera. He accompanied Rehn on a several months' visit to New Mexico and proved to be a capable and diligent collector. It was there that he began to make plans for a monograph of the bee genus Andrena, which remained through the rest of his life the one contribution he wished to complete, and toward which a number of his published papers were preliminary, but the final study never appeared.

From 1903 to 1905, he studied medicine at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia but never completed that course. In the summer of 1903 Henry was associated with John B. Smith in mosquito control. In 1904 and 1905 he was connected with the Connecticut Agricultural Station, where he worked with Dr. W. E. Britton and studied mutillid wasps and bees in cooperation with T. D. A. Cockerell and other hymenopterists. He specialized in the Hymenoptera, especially during his twenties, averaging six or fewer hours of sleep a night. His association with the Connecticut Agricultural Station eventually resulted in the manual, Hymenoptera of Connecticut, in whose preparation he assisted.

Rehn remarks that Henry's nervous temperament and idealism became restive "under official requirements or regulations" and he frequently severed connections. From 1905 to 1907, he was an assistant in the pathology laboratory of a medical college that Rehn does not name. In 1907 and 1908, he worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Zoology; from 1909 through 1913 for the Bureau of Entomology in the National Museum, where he studied the ichneumonids; and in 1914 he was an entomological explorer for the California State Horticultural Commission. In the same year, Henry established himself in Sicily and discovered the Sicilian citrus mealy-bug parasite, Leptornastidea abnormis (Girault). From 1916 through 1923, he was on the staff of the USDA Biological Survey, and sometime between 1923 and 1926, he was assistant entomologist with the Entomological Branch of the Canada Department of Agriculture.

Henry married Ida Adele Davis, a widow, in 1918, and never fully recovered from her death of pneumonia the next year. He traveled with friends to Colombia in 1922 as their guest, and there he became acquainted with tropical insect life. In 1926, he resumed work at the Academy in Philadelphia, but lived with a sister in Irvington, New Jersey.

By 1928, Henry had written 92 papers on the Hymenoptera. In addition, he was largely responsible for the section on the Hymenoptera in J. B. Smith's 1910 edition of the Insects of New Jersey. Although his main specialty in bees was the Andrenidae, he also published papers on the ichneumon flies.

He was elected to membership in the Washington Biologists' Field Club in 1911.

Henry's life, replete with tragedies, ended with one: on October 8, 1931, while collecting along a road near Loudenville, Ohio, for that state, he was killed by a hit-and-run motorist.