He has three degrees — a bachelor’s in entomology from Penn State, a master’s in entomology and plant pathology from University of Tennessee, and a doctorate in entomology from Auburn University. So, has Larry Hribar ALWAYS been interested in bugs?
“No … well, yes. I guess I was always bringing flies and butterflies into the house when I was a kid. And one memorable occasion when I tried to catch a honey bee with my bare hands,” he said, laughing. His parents, second-generation immigrants from Slovenia, encouraged the interest with a tiny microscope one Christmas.
Hribar is coming up on his 20-year anniversary at the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District and said the advances in biological deterrents are the most promising. In addition to his busy work schedule, he is father to three — one high school senior, one high school sophomore and a seventh grader. He has also volunteered and been volunteered for multiple positions in the local Boy Scout and Cub Scout scene. He is, himself, a former Boy Scout.
Full name: Lawrence Joseph Francis Hribar.
For god’s sake, how do you pronounce that? LOL! Only my grandparents could pronounce it correctly. It’s a soft breath in the beginning (the “h”) then accent the “REE” and finish with “bar” a little softer. People in the “old country” trill the r a little. (Editor’s note: It’s “rebar,” like the construction material.)
What’s your position at Florida Keys Mosquito Control District? Director of Research.
What is one daily task you perform? Data entry.
What’s your favorite bug? Louse flies; parasitic flies found mostly on birds but some mammals.
What’s the coolest thing about the Aedes aegypti mosquito? Aedes aegypti left Africa and spread all over the world in a few hundred years. It is an amazing story of dispersal and colonization.
Why is there a moth with your name? There isn’t a moth with my name, but there is a predatory fungus gnat and a feather mite. I sent the specimens off to experts who determined they were species unknown to science and they named them after me. Most biologists never get a species named for them and I ended up with two.
What was the hardest Eagle Scout badge to earn? For me it was Emergency Preparedness.
Dream meal: you are sitting at a diner counter eating; who walks in and sits next to you? My father.
What’s your best guilty pleasure? I love accordion music.
What are the top five, must-read books in your library? “The Way of a Pilgrim,” Anonymous; “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand; “To Serve Them All My Days,” R.F. Delderfield; “The Prophet,” Kahlil Gibran; and “The Foundation Trilogy,” Isaac Asimov. (I know, that’s seven.)
Which TV or movie character is your alter ego? Shemp Howard (One of the “Three Stooges.”)
What superpower would you choose and why? Being able to fly.
How did you meet your wife? I was working at the University of Florida back in 1994. We finished teaching a course on mosquito biology and control for scientists from South America. I went in the next day to feed the mosquitoes. Everyone had gone home except for one lady from Argentina. She was there all alone and I ran into her and asked her if she wanted to go get lunch. The next thing I knew I was married with three kids.
How many languages do you speak? English is my native language and I get by in Spanish. I used to speak a little Italian and a little Arabic but I’ve forgotten most of them without practice.
Are you a news junkie? I used to be but nowadays it seems to be mostly opinion and very little news.
Finish these sentences …
My favorite hobby is … carving leather.
At Halloween, my job is to … pass out the candy.
My family would describe me as … odd.
I live by the motto … “Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver, the other gold.”