Tag Archives: BENHS

BENHS 2016 — less of the same

This way in please.

This way in please.

Yesterday, 12 November, was the 2016 BENHS Annual Exhibition, held at Conway Halls, Holborn. As usual it was a chance to meet up and chat with old friends and colleagues, and have a look at the exhibits they’d brought up. The old friends were there, apart from the ones that weren’t. Yet again, I think numbers were down. Exhibits were up, maybe, mostly. But I did notice the British butterflies section was completely empty.

Over the years the popularity of various insect groups exhibited at the annual exhibition has been a compass of the direction of entomological interest of the members. When I first joined (1976) Lepidoptera was very big, divided more or less evenly between butterflies, macros and micros. The ‘other’ orders together barely made up the fourth quarter. Things have changed. Coleoptera, Diptera, Hemiptera and Hymenoptera now have their own significant sections of the hall. There aren’t many ‘other’ orders left — Trichoptera and a few odds and sods.

This year there was not a single British butterfly exhibit. Showing wild-caught butterflies has always been fraught — frowned on my some, mocked by others —but there were usually several examples of breeding experiments to work out the genetic control of pattern formation and aberration. Where were they? Who knows?

The point of the exhibition, in terms of meeting other entomologists, communicating findings, exchanging ideas, has changed since the society was founded 144 years ago. There is now something peculiarly archaic about poring over trays of pinned insect specimens. Except, this is still an important and useful way of learning. Comparing specimens of the pied shieldbug Tritomegas bicolor and the newly discovered T. sexmaculatus really does highlight the distinctions in the white markings. And I can now confirm that the blue jewel beetle Agrilus biguttatus can occur as a metallic green morph too, I saw it with my own eyes — just the thing to cause confusion if ever the emerald ash-borer A. planipennis, reaches the UK, on its seemingly inexorable spread through Eurasia.

Nevertheless, so much quick and easy communication takes place privately now, that the public arena of the annual exhibition is looking less relevant in some quarters. Maybe the butterfly breeders feel the exhibition is no longer their venue of choice.

Previous British Entomological and Natural History Society annual exhibitions:

BENHS 2015 annual exhibition

BENHS 2014 annual exhibition

BENHS 2013 annual exhibition

BENHS 2012 annual exhbition


How many coleopterists are there anyway?

Saturday 7 February 2015 and to Oxford to attend 12th Annual Coleopterists’ Day at Oxford University Museum of Natural History. There was a time when a gathering of beetle enthusiasts would have numbered a handful — scroll down to the end of my 2013 Coleopterists’ Day blog and count them on one-and-a-half hands.

But with social media and an all-inclusive invitation, Coleopterists seem to be crawling out of the woodwork. I estimated 60 people in the lecture theatre audience. Not a bad turn out.

Anyway, here are some pictures.

The insects of Holborn

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:

More peering into glass-topped cases is called for

Saturday saw the return of the British Entomological and Natural History Society (BENHS) Annual Exhibition. I’ve been before, many times.

For the last….what, 20 years?… the Annual Exhibition has been held at Imperial College, in South Kensington, but the hall hire there finally got too much, and this year it removed to the Premier Suite of the grandstand at Kempton Park Racecourse.

People and exhibits seemed a bit thinner on the ground than last year. It’s always difficult to compare when moving to a new venue. But those who were there got straight down to the important business of peering into glass-topped cases.

Here is a more or less random selection of snapshots. Next year, a return to Central London (Holborn) has been mooted. Watch this space.

What is the collective noun for entomologists?

It’s a stoop. Other suggestions included a flutter, and a buzz. When entomologists come together at the annual exhibition of the British Entomological and Natural History Society, at Imperial College, they do two things: they talk incessantly in a strange dialect of copious Latin verbiage and abstruse jargon, and they stoop.

The stooping is done over  glass-topped display boxes showing the latest finds or discoveries. Here is the evidence.

This is one of my favourite meetings of the entomological year. It’s a chance to meet the faces behind the emails and the journal articles, to catch up and exchange the entomological news of the last 12 months, have a bit of a moan about the weather and pick up the latest books and journals.

OK, they do a fair bit of drinking beer too, but it’s the stooping that captures the mood of the day. So, there you have it — a stoop of entomologists.