Weevil art

In the video above Museum entomologist Chris Lyal introduces us to the work of artist Mark Ines Russell.

Mark uses microscopes to examine the tiny weevils that he studies and paints. His images capture both the essential nature of the whole insect as well as details that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Mark Russell is an entomologist and artist who worked at the Natural History Museum on the classification and naming of weevils. As well as studying them scientifically, Mark paints strikingly beautiful and very detailed images of them, which immediately and accurately communicate what the whole insects look like.

This is especially important because the weevils are too small for all details to be seen clearly with the naked eye and because specimens preserved in collections often have parts obscured.

The detailed descriptions required for the accurate classification of large numbers of relatively similar weevils requires a lot of difficult terminology. Although vital to scientific research and communication, it’s often hard to get an image of the entire animal from them.

Mark’s images act as surrogate specimens and many have been published in a series of books on weevils: Apionidae of the Western Palaearctic

In 2000, the Museum purchased 2 examples of Russell’s work as fine examples of late 20th-century scientific illustration.