HYM Course Frequently Asked Questions

Punta Cana Ecological Foundation, Biodiversity Center, Punta Cana, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
September 7-14, 2008.

Michael W. Gates (Systematic Entomology Lab). Michael Sharkey (University of Kentucky).

What's Punta Cana like?
How do I get to Punta Cana?
What do I need to do to prepare for the course?
What taxa are covered by the HYM Course?
What do I need to bring to the course?
What happens if there is a hurricane before or during the course?
Can I keep the specimens I collect during the course?
How do I pay my fees?

What's Punta Cana like?

Students live on-site at the Biodiversity Center, which is located on the grounds of the Punta Cana Hotel and Resort. Accommodations are air-conditioned two-bed dorm rooms, each with a shared or private bathroom. Shared bathrooms will be used by approximately 4 persons of the same gender. Twelve rooms occupy the second floor of the Biodiversity Center building. Half of the upstairs is a common area that includes a large kitchen and an even larger recreation area with tables and a sitting area. Breakfast and lunch are served on this second floor while dinner is served from 7 to 10 pm at the hotel buffet dining room (which is where non-student guests at the hotel also have dinner).

The ground floor of the Punta Cana Biodiversity Center holds the main administrative offices, a reading/conference room, a computer lab with three machines (open 24 hours a day), a classroom, and several biology and chemistry labs used for teaching. The entire building is air-conditioned except the second-floor commons area (but there are ceiling fans). The building is next to several botanical and herbal gardens and is monitored 24 hours a day by security services.

The resort provides laundry facilities (washer, dryer, and detergent) for free. Three meals are served daily including vegetarian and vegan.

The Indigenous Eyes Ecological Reserve is 1,500 acres of forest preserve owned and managed by PUNTACANA Ecological Foundation. The reserve is a part of a lowland subtropical tropical forest decorated with eleven freshwater lagoons. The tropical forest tour winds through deep green tunnels of over 500 species of plants and culminates in a cooling dip in one of the eleven lagoons. Historians have discovered that the Taino Indians, the pre-Columbian inhabitants of the island, referred to the lagoons as “eyes” because of their distinctive shape.

The reserve is open daily from sunup to sundown for guests of the PUNTACANA Resort and Club and members of the PUNTACANA community.

The weather in the Dominican Republic remains tropical year-round with the temperatures averaging around 25°C (77°F). The best time to visit Punta Cana is during the "cool" season from November to April. During these months, the weather is pleasantly warm with relatively low levels of humidity and low precipitation. Temperatures along the coast are constant around 29°C (84°F) during the day and drop to a comfortable 20°C (68°F) at night. The Caribbean hurricane season lasts from June 1 to November 30. August and September are the more hurricane-prone months. The major resorts have become adept at getting back on their feet quickly after a hurricane (see more below).

It is advised that travelers pack light and include a lot of cool and light fitting cotton clothing. As in most tropical areas like Punta Cana, mosquitoes can be a nuisance. The mosquitoes usually appear after dusk but they are seasonal and more noticeable in the rainy season. Visitors are advised to wear long, comfortable cotton pants after dusk and use insect repellent sprays before venturing outside.

How do I get to Punta Cana?

The HYM Course 2008 travel day for arrival is Sunday, September 7. The departure travel day is Sunday, September 14.

Flying. If you are flying into Punta Cana International Airport, Resort vans will be waiting for pick-ups on September 7. Vans will also drop you off back at the airport at the end of the course on the 14th.
CRITICAL: You must inform the contact instructors (Michael Gates or David Wahl) of your flight itinerary in order for us to ensure that vans will be available to transport you to the station.

As often happens, planes get delayed. If you encounter significant travel problems on September 6/7, please contact the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation at (809) 959-9221, as soon as you can.

What do I need to do to prepare for the course?

No preparation for the course is required. However, advance readings (identified below) are recommended, which would be especially helpful for individuals with little or no entomological background. Some of these books below will be available during the course as some are expensive and/or out of print. Please see the HYM Course announcement for details on purchasing texts for use during the HYM Course.

The course textbook: Hymenoptera of the World: An Identification Guide to Families (Goulet & Huber, eds.), 1993.

Suggested Texts and Readings:

Bohart, R. and A. Menke. 1976. Sphecid Wasps of the World. A Generic Revision.Univ. Calif. Press, Berkeley, 695 pp.

Bohart, R. & L. S. Kimsey. 1982. A synopsis of the Chrysididae in America north of Mexico. Mem. American Entomological Institute 33: 266 pp.

Brothers, D. 1975. Phylogeny and classification of the aculeate Hymenoptera, with special reference to Mutillidae. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 50:483-648

Carpenter, J. M. 1981. The phylogenetic relationships and natural classification of the Vespoidea (Hymenoptera). Systematic Entomology 7: 11-38.

Evans, H. 1978. The Bethylidae of America North of Mexico. Mem. American Entomological Institute 27: 332 pp.

Fernández & Sharkey [eds]. 2007. Introducción a la Hymenoptera de la Región Neotropical. Sociedad Colombiana de Entomología y Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá D.C., xxx+894 pp.

Gauld, I. and Bolton, B. 1988. The Hymenoptera. British Museum (Natural History); Oxford University Press, London; Oxford; New York.

Gibson, G.A.P., J.T. Huber and J.B. Woolley (eds.) 1997. Annotated Keys to the Genera of Nearctic Chalcidoidea (Hymenoptera). National Research Council Canada, NRC Research Press, 794 pp.

Godfray, H. 1994. Parasitoids: Behavioural and Evolutionary Ecology. Princeton?University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Goulet, H. 1986. The genera and subgenera of the sawflies of Canada and Alaska: Hymenoptera: Symphyta. The insects and arachnids of Canada. Part 20. Agriculture Canada Publication 1876. 235 pp.

Hanson, P. and I. Gauld. 1995. The Hymenoptera of Costa Rica. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 332 pp.

Hanson & Gauld [eds]. 2006. Hymenoptera de la Región Neotropical. American Entomological Institute, Gainesville, Florida, 994 pp.

Masner, L. 1980. Key to Genera of Scelionidae of the Holarctic Region, with Descriptions of New Genera and Species (Hymenoptera: Proctotrupoidea). Mem. Entomological Society of Canada, 113: 54pp.

Menke A. and Fernandez F. 1996. Claves ilustradas para las subfamilias, tribus y generos de esfecidos neotropicales (Apoidea: Sphecidae) [Illustrated clues for subfamilies, tribes, and genera of neotropical Spheciade (Apoidea:Sphecidae)] Rev. Biologia Tropical 44 Suppl 2:1-68.

Olmi, M. 1984. A revision of the Dryinidae (Hymenoptera). Mem. American Entomological Institute 37: 1913 pp.

Quicke, D. 1997. Parasitic Wasps. Chapman and Hall, London. 470 pp.

Townes, H. 1969. The genera of Ichneumonidae, part 1. 300 pp. OUT OF PRINT, but CD-ROM version is now available for $23 from American Entomological Institute.

Townes, H. 1970. The genera of Ichneumonidae, part 2. 537 pp. OUT OF PRINT, but CD-ROM version is now available for $23 (or $85 for the set of all four parts) from American Entomological Institute.

Townes, H. 1970. The genera of Ichneumonidae, part 3. 307 pp. OUT OF PRINT, but CD-ROM version is now available for $23 (or $85 for the set of all four parts) from American Entomological Institute.

Townes, H. 1971. The genera of Ichneumonidae, part 4. 372 pp. OUT OF PRINT, but CD-ROM version is now available for $23 (or $85 for the set of all four parts) from American Entomological Institute.

Wharton, R., Marsh, P. and M. Sharkey, eds. 1997. Manual of the New World genera of the family Braconidae (Hymenoptera). International Society Hymenopterisits. Spec. Pub. 1.

What taxa are covered by the HYM Course?

We cover the following superfamilies/suborders: Ichneumonoidea, Chalcidoidea, Mymarommatoidea, Cynipoidea, Proctotrupoidea, Evanioidea, Stephanoidea, Trigonalyoidea, Chrysidoidea, Vespoidea, Platygastroidea, Ceraphronoidea, and Symphyta.
We DO NOT cover bees (Apoidea) or ants (Formicoidea).

What do I need to bring to the course?

Each student will be required to supply the following:
1) Stereo microscope
2) Fiber-optic light source
3) Wireless-ready laptop computer
Three of the instructors (Buffington, Gates, and Kula) will have a limited supply of additional laptops and microscope setups available for participants that can demonstrate that they do not have access to these supplies.

The following supplies will be available to all students for use during the course.
Individuals who have certain supplies of their own are encouraged to bring them. This is especially true with regard to such items as the course books, insect nets, aspirators, fine forceps, etc.
Goulet & Huber, Hymenoptera of the World: An Identification Guide to Families
Note: Copies of local plant books and the Goulet & Huber book will be around the lab. Other miscellaneous books pertaining to Hymenoptera will be available for examination.
Cyanide killing tubes
Insect pins (#2 & #3)
Point punch, card stock paper and glue for double-mounting small specimens.
Pinning block
Fine forceps
Insect storage boxes
Label Paper
"Pill" boxes for specimen field storage

The following items are things that you are expected to bring:
Notebook for course lectures, labs and seminars
Field notebook for use in the field [small, hardcover notebook]
Flashlight or headlamp for nocturnal collecting and general walking
Sweater and/or jacket [evenings can be cool]
Rain gear
Sun block
Alarm clock
Canteen or water bottle
Collecting bag or small backpack to carry gear in field
Paper and Ziploc bags to collect materials for rearing
Cash for local personal purchases
Sturdy boots
Recommend: treating field clothing, at least one set, with a permethrin soak.

The following items are things that you might consider bringing:
Swim suit
Large towel
Swiss Army knife or multi-tool
Hand lens

Miscellaneous supplies:
There are various gift stores and shops in and around the Punta Cana Resort.

What happens if there is a hurricane before or during the course?

The main factors in hurricane preparedness obviously depend on when a hurricane strikes and how severe it is. Grupo PUNTACANA has a contingency plan that covers all programs with universities and courses similar to HYM Course.

If the course has not started, it is postponed until such a time as it can be re-offered and it has priority with respect to selection of dates.

If the program has started, we inform all faculty and students on site so they can determine whether they want to stay on site during the hurricane/storms or if they want to return home, if so, we help with rebooking with airlines and provide transportation back to the airport.

Since Grupo PUNTACANA provides its own electricity and water services, it has the best return rate in restoring water and electricity on site after any natural disaster.

Can I keep the specimens I collect during the course?

Yes! We want students to go home with wasps that are correctly identified and properly labeled. We will be generating specimen labels at the Station. Remember that you will be returning with one or two insect boxes (that you didn't come with) and should anticipate this for your return packing.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife export forms (#3-177) will be available for all non-U.S. participants. However, these participants are responsible for any permits and/or paperwork required by their home countries.

How do I pay my fees?

All students are expected to pay Biodiversity Center fees and tuition prior to departure.
Room & Board = $280.00
Tuition = $700.00

Payments must be made in US dollars to the American Entomological Institute. They prefer a check drawn on a US bank or international money order; if this is difficult, arrangements can be made for a bank-to-bank fund transfer.


USDA Systematic Entomology Laboratory
HymAToL: Assembling the Hymenoptera Tree of Life
Punta Cana Ecological Foundation

Questions of a general nature about this course should be directed to Michael Gates,

Questions concerning the application process or payment should be directed to David Wahl,