Well it’s now almost the end of my second, and last, week of internship here at the Natural History Museum and I’ll definitely be sad to see it go! There is always so much to do here in the identification service, with a constant stream of enquiries covering all areas. This week I was able to hold a fossilised oyster and dinosaur bone both up to 200 million years old!
However, it’s now time for me to present what I’ve found from the database research I’ve been doing over the past two weeks, looking into the sort of public enquiries the Identifications and Advisory Service receive. Using data from 1992-2008, I have been able to build up a good picture of the sort of information everybody wants from us.
I took a look at which types of insects were usually involved in enquiries in order to ascertain whether butterflies were brought in for identification more than mites or ants, for example.
… however, the winners were the Coleoptera, the beetles, with almost a quarter of all enquiries! A trend which carries on …
… as the most popular individual insect is the lovely Drugstore beetle (aka the Bread beetle or the Biscuit beetle) - Stegobium Paniceum (above). Think of all those poor biscuits!
It was interesting to see how the Identification Service has been used, as most of the top ten enquired about insects were pests- Stegobium paniceum, Vespa crabro, Plodia interpunctella, Anthrenus verbasci, Attagenus pellio, Tineola bisselliella, Dermestes peruvianus, Urocerus gigas and Tenebrio molitor- an understandable concern for many.
Macroglossum stellatarum, the Hummingbird Hawk Moth is an exception and not a pest at all!
Hopefully the team here at the Angela Marmont Centre will be able to use my research to update their supply of fact sheets, helping them to reply more quickly to these common enquiries!
And just one last word from the IAS... it's been really useful having Rebecca work with us this last few weeks - so much data - so little time, but what we have got is some very useful information which can really help us to inform our responses to common enquires. It is a sorry indictment that the most common species are the ones that are percieved to cause a nuisance - but not to be beaten, part of our job here in the centre for UK biodiversity is to break down notions of insects as pests and to encourage people to find out more about the weird and wonderful world of insects - remember - insects are our friends too...!