March 2014: Entomology for education

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Now for something a little different!

The Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum

In the summer The Natural History Museum very kindly donated some pinned entomological specimens for our Education activities. The boxes contain a mixture of British and more exotic species, and range from butterflies and moths, to stag beetles and praying mantis!

It’s fantastic that we have this resource for our educational activities here at The Society. We can use them to inspire and enthuse, by enabling students to handle specimens and look for themselves at the natural world in close up. We are able to explore a number of different themes utilising collections like this, including adaptations, mimicry and colouration, using the information present to look at what taxonomists might need, and exploring aspects of collecting and its history, hopefully promoting debate, art work and much, much more.

Unfortunately some of these specimens were a damaged in transit, so needed a little attention from our conservators. Some new specimen boxes were purchased, which provide a stable base and easy access to the specimens.

some pinned entomological specimens

The box containing bee species was particularly chaotic with a lot of the bees heaped together. There were also quite a few wings, legs and antennae loose, and in some cases it was obvious who to re-attach them to; however the loose limbs can be used to look more closely at leg and wing adaptations in different species, so all loose limbs have been saved in a small capsule within the box. The majority of the bees required untangling and re-positioning into a more orderly arrangement.

A few of the butterfly and moth specimens were also missing legs and antennae, again some of these were reattached and others were saved in capsules for future use. Our conservator sought advice from entomologists at the OUMNH and a freelance natural history conservator who very kindly provided their expert guidance.

The tiger moth specimen shown below, had become detached from its abdomen, so a support was created to allow it to be re-adhered in the correct position.

The tiger moth specimen
The tiger moth specimen

This butterfly had a damaged wing, so our conservator used a very lightweight Japanese tissue to repair the tip, ensuring no further fragments would become detached.

butterfly had a damaged wing
butterfly had a damaged wing