Wednesday 6 February saw one of the annual highlights for students of Harper’s Entomology, IPM and Agroecology Masters students, with a trip to the Natural History Museum in London.
After an early start, students got unique access behind the scenes at what is reputed to be the largest insect collection in the world. Entering the building alongside a large group of primary school children, it was hard to judge who were the most excited.
With insect taxonomy and curation major interests for a number of students on the course, the trip provided some valuable insight into the work of the museum – and its many applications. Experts talked students through the importance of the collection in such vital areas as conservation, pest control, technology, and disease prevention.
Highlights of the day included a hummingbird-killing fly, a wasp with an enormous egg-laying organ that can bore into wood, and beetles and butterflies that have influenced the development of metallic paints.
The visit was hosted by Dr Erica McAllister, entomology Twitter’s famous ‘Fly Girl’, and included time spent with the museum’s senior beetle curator Max Barclay, senior butterfly curator Dr Blanca Huertas, as well as talks from Natalie Dale-Skey on wasps and Paul Brown on the key agricultural pests aphids, lice and thrips. Students also got to view specimens from the historic – and huge - collections of Charles Darwin, Sir Hans Sloane and Joseph Banks.
Simon Leather, Professor of Entomology, said: “I always look forward to the annual MSc Entomology course trip to the Entomology Department of the London Natural History Museum. I am never disappointed, despite the fact that this year was my 26th visit, the experience felt as fresh as ever. After all, there are so many different species of insect that the Collection Managers can always find something new to show us. What a fantastic day!”
Gary Hartley, MSc Entomology
and now @flygirlNHM casts doubt on the whole species concept (after all it was invented for mammals) using Anopheles gambiae as an example #MSc #entomology @NHM_London @HarperAdamsUni pic.twitter.com/aGghaSwGg3— Simon Leather (@EntoProf) 6 February 2019
My favourite bit - aphids and other small orders pic.twitter.com/Sb1sgUywyI— Simon Leather (@EntoProf) 6 February 2019
Some magnificent wasp nests pic.twitter.com/9LMsAWn39o— Simon Leather (@EntoProf) 6 February 2019
Up next - it’s @Coleopterist talking beetles and Darwin for the @EntoMasters - Max is waxing lyrical about the diversity and history of the @NHM_Coleoptera collection #students #tours pic.twitter.com/a5MSIXlXo0— Dr Erica McAlister (@flygirlNHM) 6 February 2019