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Beetle blog

3 Posts tagged with the bookham_common tag

2012 was an eventful year in London, marked by the Olympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee. However, the collections we serve have seen four centuries and ten monarchs, plenty of Olympics (including three in London) and more than a few jubilees (though no Diamond Jubilee since 1897, when the likes of the great Coleopterists Sharp and Champion were still hard at work). For the collections, and their curators, the year has brought its own challenges, triumphs and celebrations.


When the year began, Sharon Shute, Curator of Bostrichoidea, Chrysomeloidea and Historical Collections, had not been replaced since her retirement in 2011. It is a great credit to the team that we managed to keep everything more-or-less together during this period of being one person short, between us covering Sharon’s loans, visitors, databasing, enquiries etc. We made some significant steps forward as well. You can imagine our delight in October when we were given the go-ahead to recruit a new permanent curator, and after a rigorous recruitment we appointed Michael Geiser from Switzerland.  We have known Michael for a few years, he has visited us twice on Synthesys grants and we have seen him at Prague Entomological meetings, often with his mentor Michel Brancucci (1950-2012), whose premature and much regretted death in October was a major loss to Coleopterology. 


Michael is a well-known coleopterist, and has worked for seven years in Collection Management at the Basel Museum, where one of his achievements was the incorporation of the large collection of Walter Wittmer (1915-1998). Like Wittmer, Michael has a strong knowledge of, and interest in, the Cantharoidea, as well as in non-clerid Cleroidea, Chrysomelidae, and a number of other beetle groups. He has also been involved in Basel Museum’s Laos Project, and has spent more than nine months on tropical fieldwork in Laos. He will start work in May 2013, since he needs some time towards completion of his PhD on the small cleroid family Prionoceridae.


Michael Geiser and Michel Brancucci at Prague October 2011.JPG

Michel and Michael at Prague insect fair



In the meantime we are very lucky to have Alex Greenslade as an interim curator, who has already started work on databasing the huge Criocerine genus Lema.  Alex has been a volunteer at the Museum for over a year, working with Beulah Garner on recuration of Carabus ground beetles and Hypothenemus coffee berry borers, with Max Barclay on Ecuadorian dung beetles, and with Dick Vane-Wright on the beetle fauna of Bingley Island in Canterbury.  He will be with us until the end of April working on various problems of the Chrysomeloidea.


We're pleased to have Alex Greenslade on the team...JPG

Alex Greenslade at Science Uncovered 2012


We are proud to have a 6th Scientific Associate, Hitoshi Takano, who will join Richard Thompson, Howard Mendel, Peter Hammond, Mike Morris and Robert Angus in this prestigious club. Hitoshi has a deep knowledge of several beetle groups especially in Cerambycidae and Scarabaeoidea, with probably his greatest strength in the African Cetoniinae. He is a very experienced fieldworker and has collected in Borneo, the Philippines, Guyana, and most particularly Tanzania and Zambia. The huge volumes of interesting material he has collected are being processed by Lydia Smith and Lucia Chmurova, and we are very pleased to have them back on the team.


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Lucia and Lydia, not only beetle experts but recently obtained the serious accolade of Glue Gun Olympics World Champions in Lichtenstein earlier this year...



In the earlier part of the year Katie Bermingham was also working on this project, but has now gone on to curate the Natural History Collections of Eton College but keeps in touch with her excellent blog.


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Here's Katie - in the pink! With Ian Swinney (Bookham Common Warden), Stuart Cole (Bookham Common Coleoptera recorder) and Alex and Emeline enjoying a rare rain-free day on the common



Between them they have databased almost 10,000 Tanzanian beetles at specimen level and mounted and family sorted considerably more. At the beginning of 2012 we were visited by Bruno Nyundo from the University of Dar-es-Salaam, who brought with him two students, Justine Maganira and Anna Mwambala. They stayed for a month, pinning, mounting and identifying Tanzanian beetles, as well as getting their first experience of a Northern Hemisphere winter, snow and all - but we hope they had a fantastic time while they were here. The whole Tanzania project would not have been possible without the support of Richard Smith, to whom we are all extremely grateful.


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Anna, Justine, Max and Hitoshi in the lab (note: since when was tweed appropriate lab wear hmm?)

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Hitoshi in the field in Tanzania - this is what happens when fieldworkers are left alone for too long in the wilderness; you make your own fun...


Our excellent team of volunteers have kept up the good work over the year. Emeline Favreau has completed recuration and reindexing of the Geotrupidae with the addition of several new species to the collection. Alexander Sadek is continuing with the huge African collections of the Reverend C. E. Tottenham, otherwise known as ‘Dotty Totty, who gave up the almighty for the Staphylinidae’; Alex has labelled literally thousands of Tottenham’s specimens collected in West Africa in the 1940s-1960s (Tottenham’s total collection, housed in hand made ‘match-boxes’ was estimated to comprise 250,000 specimens when it arrived in the 1970s).


Tom Thomson from Plymouth University has processed and labelled hundreds of molecular voucher specimens from the labs, and has completed the extraction of the data from all our UK BAP specimens. Gillian Crossan has continued with the conversion of the entire collection of Buprestidae to unit trays, which is being overseen and databased by Malcolm Kerley. Alex Greenslade, Emma Little, Andrew Richens, Bernadeta Dadonaite and Tom Thomson have worked on the Ecuador dung beetle project. Other volunteers and students who have made a contribution to the section this year include Georgie Macdonald, Lucy Cooper, Rosie Goldsmith, Adam Sharp, Stuart Cole, Alexander Kazhdan, Emma Hughes, Magnus Rowbotham, Harry Kelleher, Paul Klein, Rasa Sittamparam, Ayako Mori, Li Min Cheong, Hui Erh Tay, Sean Jordan and James Blyth Currie.



The year saw more than a little fieldwork, much of which has already been covered in the pages of this blog. Beulah began the year with a trip to Peruvian cloud forests with Brett Ratcliffe, Mary Liz Jameson and other members of the famed Team Scarab’.


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The international scarab collecting team in Peru


Hitoshi, Beulah and David Oram visited Tanzania, Hitoshi twice, as well as Zambia for 6 weeks.


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The ever stylish entomologists reach the summit of Mount Hanang. Hitoshi models this season's must have red bandana and Beulah remains classic in Breton stripes...



Peter Hammond was in South Africa, Howard Mendel in Spain and Ascension Island, Lucia Chmurova was in Borneo, Rob Angus in Sardinia, Mike Morris in Bulgaria, and on top of that we also received beetles from members of other sections: The Democratic Republic of the Congo (Geoff Martin & Andy Polaszek), Madagascar (Geoff Martin and David Ouvrard), and UK (Duncan Sivell and David Notton), as well as material of great interest from Africa and South East Asia from Donald Quicke.



We have not neglected Bookham Common where we have run Lindgren Funnel Traps for the second year running in the hopes of augmenting a list that already stands at almost 1,600 species of beetles, and we are very grateful to National Trust Ranger Ian Swinney for his continuing support of our activities at this excellent site.


Bookham team Alex, Beulah, Emeline, Roger, Christine and Malcolm.jpg

Alex, Beulah, Emeline, Roger Booth, Christine Taylor and Malcolm Kerley at Bookham


We also had some UK fieldwork in Bingley Island, near Canterbury, on a project led by Dick Vane-Wright and run by Alex Greenslade and Andrew Richens.


NHM team led by Dick Vane Wright about to brave the wilds of Bingley Island.jpg

Dick Vane-Wright (far right) and team at Bingley



This year has also seen the acquisition of several major collections.  The collection of Eastern Palaearctic Cerambycidae of Jiri Vorisek includes some 17000 specimens of 2256 species, with 28 Holotypes and 396 Paratypes; the type material includes some of Jiri’s own species, as well as type material from Breuning, Danilevsky, Heyrovsky, Holzschuh, Plavilstshikov and other (largely unspellable) 20th century authors. It was acquired partly thanks to the generosity of the artist Sarah Graham and partly through the vision of the NHM Collections Committee. 


A typical drawer of Lepturinae from the recently acquired Vorisek Collection of Cerambycidae. Red labels (as usual) indicate Type Material.jpg

A typical drawer of Lepturinae longhorn beetles


We were also pleased to receive the beautifully curated British Beetle collection of Donald Prance, a quantity of material from Imperial College at Silwood Park (thanks to the good offices of Donald Quicke), some magnificent Neotropical material from Martin Cooper, part of the collection of the late botanist Eric Groves, the collections of the late Eric Brown, coleopterist father of Senior Hemiptera curator Paul Brown, and Derek Lott, well known specialist on Staphylinidae. Many of these people were (or are) our friends and close colleagues, and it has been said that leaving your collection to the Natural History Museum  is equivalent to being buried in Westminster Abbey; we hope and trust that we can do justice to the faith that has been placed in us!


Throughout most of 2012 a case featuring part of the A.A.Allen collection of British beetles (acquired in 2010) and an account of Allen’s life and work was on display in the public galleries, where it was available to up to 4.5 million people.


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A fascination with beetles...


Three grants have been received to bring specialists over to work on the collections. Lukas Sekerka, working on Hispinae and Cassidinae, visited for 2 months in the winter, and Roger Beaver, expert on Scolytinae, will come in June to work on the F.G. Browne collection of that family. We also have a grant to strengthen our links with Peruvian entomologists, and we will be inviting some of our counterparts to visit in 2013.



Lukas Sekerka exploring the Laurie Christie reprint collection.jpg

Chrysomelidae expert Lukas Sekerka raiding the coleoptera reprints!



Our statistics for the year remain impressive: 158 academic visitors used the collections for a total of 645 days. This beetle blog reached a total of 36 articles and more than 46,000 hits. We issued 304 loans of 24,000 specimens, and added 1833 new species of beetle to the collection.


The databasing of the collection of Thomas Broun (1838-1919), including more than 3,000 types, was completed, and work began on databasing one of our last undatabased assets, the Atlantic Islands collection of Thomas Vernon Wollaston (1822-1878).


Roger Booth has completed incorporation of the main J.A. Power (1810-1886), G. C. Champion (1851-1927) and David Sharp (1840-1922) collections of British aleocharine Staphylinidae; this material is taxonomically very complex, and very type rich, especially for the Homalota species described by Sharp in 1869. Much of it has been unincorporated and unprocessed since its acquisition in the early 20th century, formerly being held as three separate collections.



Roger waxing lyrical on J.B.S. Haldane; ' inordinate fondness for beetles...'



Malcolm Kerley has completed the databasing of the Lucanidae identified by Matt Paulsen on his Curatorial Fellowship grant last year, and the entire databased collection of this family, including the large collection of Hugues Bomans, has been digitally scanned by Harry Kelleher, Vladimir Blagoderov and others. This vast resource will soon be made available online, so watch this space.



Malcolm demonstrating the 'Christmas spirit'!


Richard Thompson has completed the incorporation of the collection of the late Eric Gowing-Scopes, which comprised more than 44,000 specimens, mainly weevils. Richard has now turned his attention to the vast genus Otiorhynchus, which he intends to entirely recurate! We doubt that there is anyone else alive today who would even consider taking on such a vast and intricate task, and we wish him all luck and fortitude.



Scientific Associate Richard Thompson weeviling away in the collections!


Christine Taylor, helped by volunteer Molly Clery, has made great inroads into the incorporation of the collection of Robert Angus, and his British material of all families is now incorporated. She will now begin on his extensive and important collections of water beetles. As a Scientific Associate Robert has remained active not just in extant water beetles, but also in fossils, and in chromosome work on Leiodidae and Scarabaeidae, as well as an application to the ICZN to preserve current usage of the name Aphodius fimetarius for a common, bright red dung beetle.  


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Robert Angus has left (the entomology) building, Prague!



Mike Morris has now completed the fifth volume in his Royal Entomological Society Handbooks for the Identification of British Weevils – it is probably the last unless he decides to recognise the Scolytinae as weevils- but he has plans to go back to the beginning and redo the early volumes to make allowance for numerous new introductions and discoveries in the British Isles fauna.


True Weevils 3.jpg


Mike has also register-labelled and checked the identification of several thousand weevils from the Oldrich Vorisek collection, acquired in 2010.


We have done our share of public outreach during the year, with Max, Chris Lyal and Conrad Gillett, Beulah, Hitoshi and most recently Lydia and Lucia as features in the Museum’s Nature Live calendar.


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Lydia, Max and Lucia with Nature Live host Ana Rita explain what it means to work with beetle soup - every day...!

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Emma Hughes (wearing non-standard issue bird themed top), Beulah wearing standard issue beetle themed top for National Insect Week!


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Big Nature Day at the NHM; there was a lull in the crowd, interest had waned; entomologists went wrong!


Science Uncovered on the 28th September was extremely well attended, with our beetle stall ably manned by Alex, Conrad Gillett, Hitoshi, David Oram, Lydia, Beulah, Max and others. 


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David Oram and Hitoshi at Science Uncovered (David is traitor - those are butterflies not beetles!)



We also repeated our successful training course ‘On the job training in family level identification of a hyperdiverse insect group: The Beetles (Coleoptera)’ , which was attended by Agnese Zauli from Rome and Natalie Lindgren from the USA.

The section has been present at both of the International Insect Meetings in Prague, in March and October, accompanied as ever by many friends  and colleagues.


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I like to call this one 'the money shot'! Donald Quicke, Michael Geiser, Hitoshi, Beulah, Howard Mendel, Duncan Sivell, Mike Morris and Martin Brendell enjoy more pork and beer in Prague after a hard days coleopterising!


Guess how many specimens of miscellaneous coleoptera in the jar; the answer was 13,140.JPG

Beulah and retired Collections Manager Martin Brendell marvel at the stuffed-to-the-rim jar of beetles (13,140 to be precise!) from Laos (Martin is much more cool about it than Beulah though!), Prague insect fair well as Entomodena in Italy during September

Max Barclay with Italian friends and colleagues at Entomodena.JPG

Max Barclay with Rebecca and Luca Toledano, Sergio Facchini, Stefano Zoia, Roberto Caldara, Mauro Daccordi (and a cardboard box full of parmesan cheese...?)



Max and Beulah (together with Erica McAlister and Duncan Sivell from Diptera) attended the Entomological Society of America (ESA) annual meeting in Knoxville Tennessee between 10th – 14th November which attracts over 3000 delegates from the United States as well as internationally, and the Entomological Collections Network (ECN) conference 10th-11th November. Beulah presented a talk on incorporating accessions material in to the main collection, entitled ‘Incorporating Carabus Accessions into the Natural History Museum World collection: 200 years in two months’ and Max spoke on the value of loans  ‘Loans: Raising interest rates in our collection’ and on ‘An enigmatic new taxon of Neotropical Tenebrionoidea’.


The week was an exceptional networking opportunity, and an interesting foray into the heart of America; our hotel had notices warning us not to panic if ladybugs or stinkbugs (Harmonia axyridis or Halyomorpha halys) came into our rooms (which seemed somewhat superfluous considering that most of the guests were professional entomologists), and deep fried cricket and caterpillar snacks were served instead of peanuts at the evening mixer!


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Oh No! You may see the Lady Bugs! Incidentally the picture shows the wrong species, Coccinella septempunctata rather than Harmonia axyridis..JPG

Don't be alarmed - it's only beetles (and bugs)!


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It's funny how most of our photos seem to involve drinking and eating! Left to right: Mike Ivie, Donna Ivie, Ted McRae, Frank Etzler, Rita Isa Velez, Beulah, Paul Johnson and Max in a seafood restaurant somewhere in Knoxville, Tennessee!



The year ended on a high note with a sectional lunch at the Oriental Club, organised by Hitoshi, David and Beulah, where exceptionally good food and fine wines underlined what has been a very successful year for the Coleoptera Section.  We hope for, and would like to wish you all, a very happy and prosperous 2013!



This is perfectly normal...



  A collection of entomologists...




It's not all fun in the Coleoptera section, we are bang up-to-date and have been busy working on our trees...!


In search of sunshine and beetles!

Posted by Blaps Jul 12, 2012

Hello Beetlers!


It’s that time of year again when we dusty pale-skinned curators are lead blinking and shivering reptile-like from our gloomy and chilly collections and out in to the wilderness once more to collect yet more beetles to add to our beloved collections.

So armed with plenty of sun cream (the sun did actually shine on this day, really, true story!) and insect repellent and hay fever tablets, and… we headed off to Bookham Common where we and many other collectors and natural historians have collected for over 50 years.

collectors interestedweb.jpg

This is what beetle collectors generally look like: disparate (not desperate - well, maybe a bit...), a bit scruffy and well, a little bit weird; from left to right:

Alex Greenslade, Beulah Garner, Emeline Favreau, Roger Booth, Christine Taylor and Malcolm Kerley


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Not ones for the spotlight, we soon lose interest in all this posing...but hang on a minute, what's this Roger has caught in his sweep net...?



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Whilst our trusty coleopterists are so easily distracted, Emeline seizes the moment...; and as for Malcolm, well he's still posing!



Oh but wait, even Emeline's dastardly plan is foiled by the excellent collecting skills of Roger Booth, who at this very moment has found Meligethes matronalis! Yes, really! Meligethes matronalis Audisio & Spornraft, 1990, whose larvae are meant to develop solely on Hesperis matronalis - Dame's Violet, although adults can be found on the flowers of other plants; a new record for Bookham Common.



And finally, as punishment for Emeline's insubordinance...we made her carry all the collecting equipment...Ha!


With easy access from London it is no surprise that it is so well recorded and continues to be the case. The ‘Bookham Common List’ is almost a benchmark for invertebrate diversity and a tribute to this incredible habitat-diverse and well managed sight. It is really interesting to look back at the list over the years to see the ebb and flow of species; what once was scarce is now abundant, some species have not been recorded there for decades, others are making a come-back and most importantly, we are finding new records all the time! For such a well recorded sight this is quite remarkable and paints a healthy picture of species diversity down in leafy Surrey! It also importantly highlights the need for us to continue to collect and record the amazing natural history we have here in the UK…there’s always some thing new to discover…


malcolm and caterpillarweb.JPG

Talking of new discoveries, here's Malcolm with a caterpillar (not a beetle!) he has identified as a Brindled Green Moth Dryobotodes eremita Fabricius. A species of Noctuid common on the old oak trees of Bookham Common.


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Here is Max Barclay (or as he is better known to the Elves, Ents, Goblins and Fairies of Bookham Common woods,  'Gandalph' with his magic beetling wand)...


See that ray of light? That's no accident; it is actual beetle magic...


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As this image clearly illustrates, Max is also a fully qualified and indeed skilled aboroculturalist (Look! No hands!).



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And here is Max's trusty assistant, Francisca, changing the Lindgrun funnel traps


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The hunters (Christine, Beulah and Roger) become the hunted...watched undisturbed from a camouflaged viewpoint the coleopterists go about their business...



Beautifully synchronised grubbing about in the mud (for Bembidion beetles who love a bit a of mud!); and yes ,we may well have been humming the 'Hokey-Kokey'.



Talking of mud; an occupational hazard when searching for water beetles...

jmud.jpg Julien Haran manfully demonstrates.



Entomologists don't always get along; and what better way to settle differences than to literally thrash it out. Molly and Alex beating about the bush...



Some stylish (?) entomologists! Alex and Molly have made up with the help of Julienne, Hui Erh and Limin!


Some friendly entomologists with National Trust Bookham Warden Ian Swinney, Bookham Coleoptera Recorder Stuart Coles, Alex, Emeline and Katie



From a couple of days collecting we already have an impressive list of interesting species; here are the highlights:


Cerambycidae – Longhorn beetles
Grammoptera ustulata: Lepturinae
Collected by Roger Booth: New record for Bookham
Found April – July; this beetles’ larvae is associated with deciduous trees such as oak and the fungus that grows on them, Vuilleminia comedens
For images go to the Encyclopaedia of Life (EOL) page:


Agapanthia villosoviridescens: Lamiinae
Collected by Tristan Bantock: New record for Bookham
Adults found May – June in wet meadows and hedgerows feeding on Umbellifers and nettle



Agapanthia villosoviridescens


Rutpela maculata (locally common) and an early record for Bookham. This can be found from May through to August with adults living between two to four weeks. larvae live in the decaying wood of species such as Oak, Beech and Birch.

Longhorn Beetle wings out (Rutpela maculata).325x325.jpg

Museum specimen of Rutpela maculata


Eucnemidae – False click beetles
Melasis buprestoides: one in flight near Merritt's Cottage: New record for Bookham (apparently a new family).

For more information on this beetle follow the link below:


Chrysomelidae – Leaf beetles
Bruchidius villosus: from broom in Merritt's Cottage Garden; first post-1950 record.

Go to EOL for more inofrmation on this species:


Lymexylidae – Ship timber beetles!
Hyloceotes dermestoides; one in flight on main path; 2nd record for the common (one collected by Ian Menzies in 2007)

Hyloceotes dermestoides.jpg

©Stanislav Krejcík

Adults are short lived, seen on the wing for a few days from May to July; larvae feed on the fungus Endomyces hylecoeti in the heartwood of trees such as Oak and Pine.


Elateridae – Click beetles
Selatosomus bipustulatus: Nationally scarce; new to Bookham

Colydiidae – Cylindrical bark beetles
Pycnomerus fuliginosus (naturalised); new to Bookham.

To see this species follow the link to the NHM's Beetles and Bugs Flickr photstream:


Dermestidae – Dermestid beetles
Megatoma undata: Nationally scarce: last Bookham record, 1941 by A.M. Easton

For more information go to EOL:


Megatoma undata.jpg

©Stanislav Krejcík


That's about it for now...


Miss Blonde, Mr Blue, Mr Brown, Miss Pink...'Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am suck in the forest with you...'


And finally, I leave you with this thought, 'how far would you go in the name of entomology?'

In pursuit of Meligethes, Roger Booth was last seen being swallowed by the notorious caniverous plant Umbelliferus carnivorus; sadly there was no one around to heed his screams; as we'd all gone down the pub...



Hello beetlers,


Now that spring has passed and summer is truly upon us, the field season begins. This is when entomologists get very excited about the prospect of going out in to the countryside (well, just ‘out’ really) with their sweep nets and collecting gear in pursuit of insects! Here in the coleoptera section, we are no exception, and when Max suggested a fieldwork day to Bookham Common, we literally jumped at the chance!

Here we are, literally jumping!


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From left to right Alex Sadek, Max Barclay, Malcolm Kerley, Libby Livermore, Beulah Garner, Laurence Livermore. Image courtesy of Libby livermore.


So what does field work mean to us? Well, we don’t just go out and collect insects - we go out looking for insects. We may have an idea of what we might expect to find, especially at any given time of the year, habitat or host plant. And when we find them, we record them. This information can then be fed in to local as well as national databases which record distribution of species across the UK. This is vital information to inform those that are involved in habitat and species protection / conservation, as well as climatologists (insects are very good indicators of climate change) and politicians!
Here is the link to the National Biodiversity Network


Thereby much of what we find, we record and set free. However, should we be looking for a specific species, especially if it is not commonly found in the habitat in which we are collecting, we will retain the specimen for confirmation of identification and to provide what we call a voucher specimen. A ‘voucher’ provides tangible proof that the species exists and was found in a certain location. This voucher is then deposited in the Museum collection to act as a permanent record for the future.

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Here is the striking wasp mimic Clytus arietis (Cerambycidae), which we did set free! Image courtesy of David Oram.


So off we set to Bookham Common. Why Bookham Common, well it is a very important area for wildlife and has species records dating back over fifty years meaning it is one of the best and most comprehensively recorded sights in Britain. The various habitats include wet grassland, low lying meadows, scrub, ponds and (ancient) woodland. So here, not only can the past inform the future by for example, the analysis of species distribution trends or species ecology, such as time of insect emergence correlated with weather, but we can continue to build on this data by regular recording of what wildlife is present.
The commons are managed by the National Trust and principally recorded by members of the London Natural History Society; follow the link to find out more about the LNHS.


RB entertaining the public David imageDSCN9598.JPG

Here is Roger Booth demonstrating his 'pootering' technique to some fascinated passers-by! For those of you that don't know, he is holding a 'beating tray'. This is placed underneath a selected tree, the tree is beaten with a big stick, and hopefully some interesting insects fall out!



The coleoptera section has got some shiny new collecting equipment that we couldn’t wait to try out - seriously!
These new traps are called Lindgren funnel traps and are a series of black funnels connected together with a collecting trap at the bottom and a bait trap in the centre.

lindgrem funnel David imageDSCN9631.JPGmalcolm enjoys some pheromoneDO imageDSCN9627.JPG

Lingren funnel trap in the tree canopy. Image courtesy of David Oram.  Here is Malcolm Kerley (right) demonstrating the addictive properties of the bait trap!


The idea is that insects are attracted to the pheromone bait and fly into the funnels – the funnels are so shaped that the insects cannot fly out, but rather end up in the bottom of the trap which contains a collecting fluid such as ethanol with a drop of washing-up liquid to break the surface tension. These traps are commonly used in the USA to collect forest pests such as bark beetles (Scolytidae). The traps are hoisted into the canopy of the tree and secured by a long rope.

Imagine the logistics of first selecting a suitable tree, and then working out just how to get the trap into the canopy of said tree. This part of the fieldwork took some time, and involved much throwing of rope:
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Throwing the rope!

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Standing around thinking about throwing the rope!



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Letting go of the end of the rope so that it landed completely over the other side of said tree and not actually in the tree…

And so it went on until eventually there was success!

rope successDO imageDSCN9621.JPGtheres a barclayi in that tree027.jpg
Question: how many entomologists does it take to throw a rope?

From left to right Malcolm Kerley, Alex Sadek, Max Barclay, Max Barclay (stuck in a tree?) Roger Booth, David Oram.



But the major event of the day was the finding of the Scarlett Malachite Beetle, Malachius aeneus (Malachiidae - Soft-winged flower beetles).

© Chris Gibson

This beetle, whose range has declined to such an extent that it is listed as 'rare' on the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan, is currently only known from eight sites throughout the UK.



For more information on this beautiful beetle, and especially if you would like to attempt to see it in the wild, go to Buglife, who are currently running a Scarlet Malachite Beetle Survey to help monitor this beetles’ populations.



OPAL (Open Air Laboratories), who have just launched their fantastic Bug Hunt Survey, will also help you to get outside and go collecting – more details here:

Our Plymouth University intern Lucia Chmurova was sweeping a verge in the early afternoon consisting of mixed vegetation of rough grasses, buttercups, cow parsley and dock, when this beetle was caught in her net. This was truly an amazing find as this beetle hasn’t been recorded in Surrey for more than 50 years (Denton, 2005) and is a first record for Bookham! So well done Lucia, perhaps we are all ‘scarlet’ with envy, rather than green, at this find!
lucia bug webDavid image.JPG

Here is Lucia investigating the undergrowth!


Lucia’s note will be published in the next edition of the Coleopterist.



For some excellent cinematic photos of the day follow Libby Livermore’s (our official capturer of entomologists in action) link here:



Member since: Sep 15, 2009

I'm Beulah Garner, one of the curators of Coleoptera in the Entomology department. The Museum's collection of beetles is housed in 22,000 drawers, holding approximately 9,000,000 specimens. This little collection keeps us quite busy!

View Blaps's profile