Saturday 8 November saw the British Entomological and Natural History Society’s 2014 Annual Exhibition move to the Conway Halls, Red Lion Square, Holborn. I used to work round the corner from here and it’s not all that much changed since 25 years ago. I like the workaday down-to-Earthness of Holborn; with neither the swagger and expense of the West End, nor the pompous grandiosity of The City. The Conway Halls proved just the right setting for the society’s event. So, here’s a selection of photographs:
CURIOUS? WHY CURIOUS?When 17th century apothecary and naturalist James Petiver published a picture of what, for 200 years, would be Britain's most enigmatic butterfly, Albin's Hampstead Eye, he reported: "Where it was caught by this curious person". His implication was that Eleazar Albin was not just strange, not just odd, but was fuelled by curiosity.
Ongoing projects:These are some of the books and other projects going on at the moment......
Ants – the ultimate social insects. British Wildlife Collection
A way with worms
Beetles — in the Collins New Naturalist series
Call of nature: the secret life of dung
House guests, house pests
How to be a curious entomologist
BBC Wildlife Magazine
I still can’t get used to seeing insects pinned to a board. I am sure that collectors have a sincere passion for their subject and I know they wouldn’t be collecting any species that was threatened with extinction, it’s just seeing that (once) living creature now stuck on display for our satisfaction. I still have a Satin Beauty moth that I captured to photograph that, unfortunately, died during the process. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away and it still sits in a small plastic box on a shelf in my studio. Probably sounds quite silly to a professional Entomologist like yourself Richard, but there yer go……we’re all different.
Thanks for such an interesting blog.
We used to monitor Gypsy moth for a while when I worked for the Plant Health Service, but I don’t think they do any more (I retired in 2012). It was at a very low level – I wrote a paper about 10 years ago. I think the Foresty Commission took over after that. There was also a small outbreak in Aylesbury probably associated with imported timber. Interesting to see this one was found in Westminster. Sorry I don’t have a pdf.
Cannon, R.J.C., Koerper, D., Ashby, S., Baker, R., Bartlett, P.W., Brookes, G., Burgess, R., Cheek, S., Evans, H.F., Hammon, R., Head, J., Nettleton, G., Robinson, J., Slawson, D., Taylor, M.C., Tilbury, C.A. & Ward, M. (2004) Gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, outbreak in northeast London, 1995-2003. International Journal of Pest Management, 50, 259-273. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/tandf/ttpm/2004/00000050/00000004/art00002
Mark, Killing and collecting insects is always something that entomologists need to justify. There are some people who still make a collection for their own satisfaction. This is insect-collecting, a bit like stamp-collecting. From the pragmatic point of view it does not really harm the environment — all those usual arguments about insect numbers, fecundity, natural mortality etc — but it does, in my opinion, cheapen what I would describe as the scientific necessity of collecting insects. This is the importance of keeping some voucher specimens, without which correct identification of the vast majority of insects would be impossible. Insect-collecting and collecting insects are wholly different things.
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment. If I’m reading it correctly and I’m understanding it correctly, I think we are in agreement. :-) I certainly have no problem with scientific collection or the dissection for identification purposes etc. However, the Victorian ‘Insect Collecting hobby’ whereby trays and trays of insects are displayed – like postage stamps – and swapped and purchased does tend to rankle.
On a more personal note, I was brought up by my maternal grandmother who was the most loving person. However, for some reason I have never been able to come to terms with, was her proclivity to delight in telling me the most frightening stories about spiders, earwigs, beetles and all other forms of insect life from a very young age. Consequently, for many years I grew up with (almost) a phobia of anything that crawled or flew. It was only in the latter half of my life (now 72) that I have come to realise the damage that her words did to me and what I have missed out on. Having said that the one thing it did do was to help me with the bringing-up and education of my three sons, all of whom, I’m pleased to say have a love of life and all things. Whenever we couldn’t find our youngest son, from the age of 4, we would look in the garden first and usually find this little bum jutting out of a hedgerow and he would come up triumphantly clutching some poor unsuspecting critter! He is now 32 and heads the design team at a well-know advertising agency. :-)
I understand from your previous posts how lucky you were to have a father who introduced you to Entomology at a young age, how wonderful that must have been for you.
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