Last chance for rare hawkmoth collection

07 August 2008

The Natural History Museum has 8 weeks left to raise enough money to obtain a spectacular hawkmoth collection.

The outstanding collection has a staggering 229,000 hawkmoth specimens, painstakingly gathered by Jean-Marie Cadiou over a period of almost 40 years.

It is the most important hawkmoth collection ever to become available and has become so after the unexpected death of its passionate collector.

Hawkmoths

Hawkmoths have intrigued people for many years. There are about 1,400 species of these insects and they occur on all continents except Antarctica.

They are the only moths able to hover in front of flowers to feed, like hummingbirds do.

Their caterpillars are large, often marked by stripes or eyespots, with a conspicuous horn at their rear end. They lay their eggs one at a time rather than in groups and they are generally a translucent green colour.

Unique role of hawkmoths

Hawkmoths play a unique role in the pollination of some plants. For example, some orchids in Madagascar can only be pollinated by one species of hawkmoth. If the moth became extinct, the orchid would inevitably follow.

Hawkmoths are also an excellent flagship species - scientists can monitor climate change by studying their distribution.

Joining Museum insect collection

Securing these rare specimens will make the Museum's collection the largest and most important in the world.

If the Museum is lucky enough to raise the £120,000 by 30 September, this hawkmoth collection will join the Entomology Department and its 28 million other insect specimens that are cared for and used by researchers all over the world.

Further information

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