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August 18, 2010

We've asked Rebecca, our excellent intern, to write about her experiences so far here in the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity. Rebecca is working on our database of insect enquiries which goes as far back as 2002! This data is as yet not analysed; though we are able to see trends on a seasonal basis, we haven't measured for sure such things as species distribution, increases and declines. So the work that Rebecca has been tasked with is really important in helping us to produce some quantificable results.

Over to Rebecca:

Hi, I’m Rebecca, and for the past week I‘ve been an intern with the Identification and Advisory service.

I’m here with the Young Graduates for Museums and Galleries program, which aims to get some of us students behind the scenes of a few of the London-based institutions. Many of us, including myself, are already looking towards careers in museums and galleries and this program gives us a unique chance to fully understand what we would be getting ourselves in for, hopefully persuading us to continue down this path, as well as providing us with vital experience when considering future job applications!

But that’s enough about that, I’ve been asked to tell you what we’ve been getting up to this week!

I don’t know how much you know about camel spiders (Solpugids) but, when I was shown some of the office collection just the other day, I came far too close to one for comfort- despite it being long deceased and the presence of the glass that separated us! Not one usually bothered by spiders, these terrifyingly huge, extremely hairy and double fanged creatures (though not technically spiders) gave me the creeps!

Here are two being picked up by some members of the American forces, though it isn’t clear whether they are mating or fighting.


Not to worry you too much, while their bite is painful, they aren’t venomous and certainly not native to Britain. That said, I think I’d still prefer them to be in the museum display cases!

Moving a bit closer to home, there have been a lot of Lepidoptera queries coming in this week from those believing to have found some very exotic caterpillars. However, many of these are actually exciting looking species native to Britain (something I have learnt this week)! Below is the caterpillar of the poplar hawk-moth, Laothoe populi, which is a stunning bright green.

We may not be the sunniest of countries but at least we still have the dazzling wildlife!


Aside from these various experiences whilst shadowing the staff here at the Angela Marmont Centre, I have also been working on collating their database, for which I will be providing some statistics next week. Though it doesn’t sound quite as exciting, it is one of the behind the scenes jobs that needs to be done in order to provide a top quality output from the identification and advisory service - a view my program has been aiming for.

Next week I am hoping to be able to give the team an idea of the most common inquiries so we can put together some useful information sheets - helping to reply to queries more efficiently!