This week we went on one of my favourite trips with the MSc Entomology students. We visited the Natural History Museum in London. We got off to fantastic start – all the students, and staff, arrived at the arranged time of 0645, something that had never happened before :-). The weather was fine, although at that time in the morning it was too dark to really appreciate it, and off we set. I should have known that something would go wrong and sure enough the traffic was awful, and we had to make an unscheduled stop at a motorway service station to make sure our driver didn’t exceed his quota of working hours.
The now much delayed coach basking in the sunshine at a motorway service station.
Some of the MSc students; remaining cheerful despite the delay.
Forty-five minutes later we set off again and despite encountering a few further delays arrived safely, albeit almost an hour and a half late. Luckily our host for the day Erica McAlister (@flygirlNHM) was ready and waiting and very efficiently got our visit back on track. This year we were shown Colossal Coleoptera by Michael Geiser, Huge Hymenoptera by Nathalie Dale-Skey, Lustrous Lepidoptera by Alessandro Giusi and Deadly Diptera by Erica McAlister. All our specialist hosts were, as you would expect, very keen to extol the virtues of their groups, and who can blame them. I do the same with Awesome aphids 🙂 We are always very appreciative of the time and care that the NHM entomologists give us, especially as they have, sadly, recently had their numbers reduced. Hopefully, as the realities of the problems associated with insect conservation and identification become even more apparent than they already are, we will see the appointment of more entomologists to this very much-needed global resource. Here are some pictures to give you a flavour of the day.
Mouse mat for forensic entomologists 🙂
Alessandro Giusti waxing lyrical about the biggest, the smallest and the most beautiful Lepidoptera (moths as far as he is concerned).
The large and the small (a really bad photo by yours truly, I am still getting to grips with my new camera)
Natalie Dale-Skey extolling the virtues of Hymenoptera
They don’t have to be big and tropical to be beautiful – these are tiny but gorgeous
I do like a good wasp nest 🙂
Erica McAlister on the sex life of flies
The biggest flies in the world pretending to be wasps
A selection of flies
I was very impressed that the Crane fly still has all its legs attached. I collected Crane flies for my undergraduate collection and had to resort to sticking their legs on to a piece of card.
Not quite the rarest fly in the World but as its larvae live inside rhinoceroses it could be in trouble 😦
Big beautiful beetles
Cockchafers aren’t really this big, but wouldn’t it be awesome if they were?
MSc Entomology (@Entomasters) at the end of the visit. Photo courtesy of Heather Campbell (@ScienceHeather), our newest member of staff
Once again, a huge vote of thanks to Erica and colleagues for making this a memorable visit. We had a fantastic day.