Bugs… Over 1 million of them are housed in the arthropod museum on the fifth floor of the Life Sciences building at LSU. Stacks of the arthropods take up over four rooms in the building.
For nearly 30 years, Curator Victoria Bayless has watched over the collection and added to it as much as possible.
"I actually worked in the cotton fields in north Louisiana waiting for a perfect position to open up. This one came available, and I came down here and did everything I could so I could have this position," Bayless says.
Bayless has had her perfect job for years now, and her difference is already felt from first-year Director Nathan Lord.
"I still don’t know anything. Without Victoria, I wouldn’t know where the front door is. I don’t know how I would be able to come in and learn anything or how this goes without having her expertise of having been here," Lord says.
The museum is the center for everything arthropod in the state of Louisiana and has been since its reopening in 1964 after a fire in the 1920s destroyed the collection.
Bayless has won numerous awards for her research throughout the years but keeping track of the museum is not her only passion.
"I would write people and say, ‘I would like to buy all the insect jewelry that you have,'" Bayless said.
You heard it right: bug jewelry is on full display in the museum.
According to Bayless, the market is a lot bigger than you might think, and she still tries to add to her collection.
"No, I won’t sell my jewelry, of course not. I still tell people, 'if you find something really good, i’ll buy it.'”
Her jewelry has even been the cover of American Entomologist, but she still wants to keep her jewelry as close to home as possible.
"It’s mostly on display, but I do still wear it. I keep some at home that I like to wear when i go out.”
While Bayless says her jewelry is not for sale, students should stop the arthropod museum for interesting facts and might even leave with a little bit of jewelry advice from Bayless herself. Bayless says her door is always open for students and parents alike.