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In the last few months many activities have taken place in and around our temporary exhibition on the top floor of Manchester Museum, ‘Beauty and the Beasts; falling in love with insects’. For example, children and young people, from under 5s to teenagers, were invited to send stories involving insects to help us create the next great Creepy-Crawly Chronicle, following in the footsteps of the Hungry Caterpillar. There is still time to enter the Children’s Story Competition, see here for more information.

Inspired by the amazing creatures in Beauty and the Beast Exhibition and the insects on the handling table, younger visitors created their very own creepy-crawly characters.

 

The exhibition has also been used as a space to relax and enjoy, for example, hosting one of the wellbeing sessions for Natural Sciences students at the University of Manchester. After a brief introduction, the students made their way into exhibition to explore the insects’ shapes and colours, admiring strange and peculiar creatures using magnifying glasses. They also experimented with the exhibition’s digital content by scanning the QR-tag on some of the cases, tried out the microscopes and wrote letters to insects, among other activities.

The students were also invited to draw and create their own creepy-crawly characters, see below for some of the amazing drawings and ideas, including where the character is from, what they like and dislike and what is special about them. Here are some of the characters suggested by the students:

  • Hobbelklumps are from Foreverland, like warm spots of sunlight and Nutella, dislike salmon and sunlight follows them wherever they go.
  • Bumbleflies are from New Zealand, like flowers, dislike water and their wings are asymmetrical.
  • Mermaid-flies are from Bury, like tomatoes, dislike techno and can fly and swim.

 

The ‘Beauty and the Beasts’ exhibition has created a space not only to see the work of researchers and artists, but also to enjoy the colours, patterns, shapes and myths surrounding these small creatures. The exhibition is also about exploring and using the gallery’s space from a different perspective. There are still a lot of events and activities planned for this exhibition, get in touch if you would like to be involved. Follows us on twitter and Instagram, #MMBeautyandtheBeasts.

 

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Dmitri Logunov, Curator of Arthropods, installing a central display case of the exhibition.

At the Manchester Museum, we opened a new temporary exhibition devoted to insects and other creepy-crawlies as inspirational tools for non-entomologists. The exhibition is called ‘Beauty and the Beasts: falling in love with insects’ and is about the cultural entomology rather than insects themselves. It is experimental in many ways. For instance, we provided the introductory panel in 18 different languages. Each display case has its own QR-tag, so that a visitor can scan it and get directly to the detailed description of its content with images of individual objects displayed. This tool is especially useful for visually impaired visitors. The entire content of the exhibition is accessible online and can be seen at: https://mmbeautyandthebeasts.wixsite.com/mmbeautyandthebeasts

If someone is interested, please, visit the site and let us know what you think. There is an option to leave your comments online. Any positive and critical comments are welcome. Thank you.

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Entrance to the new exhibition. The Manchester Museum.

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A caterpillar (the witchery grub) of the Carpenter Moth, family Cossidae (left), and the Giant Water Bug (Belostoma sp.) (right) from the insect collections of the Manchester Museum.

The following story was prepared by Jamie Burnett, the third year undergraduate student of the University of Manchester, who spent few months in the Manchester Museum’s Entomology Department in 2019 helping us out as a volunteer.

In their book, “Man Eating Bugs”, Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio ask a Ugandan policeman named David to try some palm worms they have collected; he refuses vehemently, finding the idea off-putting. Faith then asks if he eats termites or grasshoppers, which he enthusiastically admits he does – “Yes, they are very good(Menzel et al., 1998). Why is he perfectly happy to eat one type of insect, but another is repulsive to him? This is a useful example of how a person’s taste is shaped by their culture, which dictates what is considered edible.

Eating insects, known as entomophagy, has been promoted as an alternative to mainstream staples such as chicken, pork or beef. Containing high levels of protein and fat, as well as calcium, iron and zinc, edible insects are capable of replacing meat nutritionally, and already appear in many traditional diets around the world. Furthermore, insect rearing for consumption is fairly cheap, does not require high technology equipment or land clearing, and emits fewer greenhouse gases than most livestock. Due to their cold-blooded nature, insects are also very efficient at converting feed into protein, much more so than cattle, pigs, sheep and chickens (Van Huis, 2013).

If entomophagy is cheap, healthy and good for the environment, why isn’t everyone doing it? We return to David, the Ugandan policeman, to shed some light on this question. His response, instant disgust, is the same that many Europeans or North Americans would feel if offered an insect-based snack – this disgust could be due to the pathogen-avoidance mechanism, shared by humans and many other animals. This mechanism protects us from parasites and infection by provoking disgust and repulsion to anything considered to be a source of pathogens, such as mouldy food (Sarabian et al., 2018).

Culture, however, plays an important role in this process; as children we learn from our parents what is worth eating and what to avoid. As this differs according to location and climate, so too do tastes and diets. In tropical climates, insects tend to be larger and gather in significant numbers, with a variety of different species available at predictable harvest times throughout the year. As such, insects feature in many different tropical diets and there is less aversion against using them as food. In comparison, large domesticated mammals (such as cows) were more reliable in temperate climates, with the added benefits of providing milk products, leather and a means of transport. Therefore, insects were of little use (aside from honeybees) and are now mainly thought of as pests (Van Huis, 2013).

However, as the climate changes and food security becomes a rising concern, perhaps we should take note from those cultures that embrace entomophagy, and try Australian witchetty grub soup or a Cambodian deep-fried tarantula. As well as doing your bit for the planet, you might surprise yourself and find a new favourite food!

If you’re interested in reading about entomophagy, the article by Van Huis provides a wealth of information about scientific, commercial and social aspects, whilst “Man Eating Bugs” is a much more personal, humorous book of a couple’s journey to explore different cultures which eat insects.

Please, also visit our previous blog post devoted to the same topic.

 References

Van Huis, A. (2013) Edible insects : future prospects for food and feed security.

Menzel, P. and D’Aluisio, F. (1998) Man eating bugs : the art and science of eating insects.

Sarabian, C., Curtis, V. and McMullan, R. (2018) ‘Evolution of pathogen and parasite avoidance behaviours.’, Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences. The Royal Society, 373(1751). doi: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0256.

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Daniel Hall working in the Manchester Museum’s Entomology Department (October 2019).

The Manchester Museum’s Entomology Department welcomes all kinds of visitors. Yet researchers represent the bulk of them. They not only use our collections for their scholarly, insect-related research, but also help with identifying and updating the nomenclature of our huge invertebrate collections. Here is a short report on one of the Masters students, Daniel Hall from the Manchester Metropolitan University, who spent a week in the department familiarizing himself with the British flies (Diptera).

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Recently I had the pleasure of spending a week working within the Entomology department at Manchester Museum, using the facilities and collections in research for my Masters dissertation project in Biological Recording at Manchester Metropolitan University. The project involves the identification of Diptera (true flies) specimens that were collected as part of an experimental study of the effect of Yellow Rattle, Rhinanthus minor L., on grassland communities. The results of this study showed complex interactions between genetic diversity of Yellow Rattle, parasite establishment, and plant community structure, and now we are starting to look at how to incorporate invertebrate data into these analyses.

Specimens collected during the study have been awaiting identification for a few years now, and I am using the reference collection and microscopes at the Manchester Museum to identify a subset of them using traditional techniques. I am also using DNA barcoding methods to supplement and expand on the identifications of these specimens, allowing comparison of the two different methods as well as hopefully allowing for identification of poorly preserved specimens. This data will help determine what direction should be taken for identification of other groups from this study and to help streamline the incorporation of invertebrate data into the ecological conclusions of this and further studies.

This has been made possible only through the availability of the collection resources at the Museum, as well by the assistance and enthusiasm of the staff and volunteers in the  Entomology Department.

 

One of the most important ways of expressing the scientific value of natural history collections is the production of collection-based papers. This blog explores our commitment to making the arthropod collection of the Manchester Museum available for research and overviews the papers published between August 2018 and July 2019. In all cases, the Manchester Museum is used as a permanent depository of the studied type and voucher specimens.

In total, 28 scientific papers based on specimens or data from the Museum’s Entomology Collection were published by researchers from nine countries (France, Belgium, Russian, Brazil, Poland, China, Iran, South Africa and the UK). The researchers were from research institutes, museums and universities, including, Institute of Systematic and Ecology of Animals (Russia), Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia (Brazil), Entomological Society (China), Insect Centre (Russia), Muséum des Sciences Naturelles et de Préhistoire de Chartres (France), University of Wroclaw (Poland), University of Tehran (Iran), The University of Manchester (UK) and the associated staff of Manchester Museum.

The University of Manchester staff and volunteers (Professor Laurence Cook, Michael Dockery, Claire Miles, Diana Arzuza, and Dr Dmitri Logunov) published seven articles, describing collectors and important and unusual collections, for example:

  • The entomological legacy of Robert Wylie Lloyd (1868–1958), who made a major donation to the Entomology Department; the extent of his donation (British and European beetles and butterflies) and his motivation as a naturalist are discussed (Cook L. 2019).
  • An overview of the John and Francis Murphy Spider Collection, the largest one ever acquired by the Museum and its description as a valuable resource for arachnologists (Arzuza Buelvas D. 2019).
  • A complete summary of the Sphingidae (hawkmoths) collection held in the Manchester Museum’s Lepidoptera collection, incuding a full species list (British and worldwide) and information about collectors and collections (Miles C. 2019).
  • The Lepidoptera collection of William Raymond Wooff (1929–2006), the content of this unusual collection (butterfly/moth wings mounted on index cards), with reliable data about distribution and habitat, is explored in this paper (Dockery M. & Logunov D.V. 2018).
  • Examples of industrial melanism and its rapid adaptive response to a changing environment in Britain in 19th century using specimens of the Peppered Moth (Cook L. 2018).
  • An obituary of Dr Eric Duffey, British arachnologist, ecologist and conservationist; details of his professional life and contribution to the Manchester Museum’s Entomology collection are given (Logunov D.V. 2019).
Example of an index card with mounted wings from the Lepidoptera collection of William Raymond Wooff.
Drawer with Blue butterflies, Polyommatus bellargus (Rottemburg) and P. coridon (Poda), in R.W. Lloyd’s Lepidoptera collection.

Topics covered by the publications include taxonomy, systematics and phylogeny (18 papers), including descriptions of new species and genera, and new faunistic records. Three papers were focused on surveys and one is an identification guide. Taxa in such publications included species of Araneae (spiders), Coleoptera (beetles), Lepidoptera (butterflies), Phasmatodea (stick insects), Mantodea (mantis) and Trichoptera (caddis flies), see Figure 1.

Figure 1. The taxa covered by papers published between August 2018 and July 2019 using the Entomology Collection of the Manchester Museum. ‘Other’ includes non taxonomic, museological publications, such as those describing collectors and/or collections and their history.

The order Araneae (spiders) is the group with the most papers published (13 in total), this is mainly due to the taxonomic expertise and scientific connections of the current Curator of Arthropods, Manchester Museum. Dr Dmitri Logunov has described two new spider species, including a jumping spider from Hong Kong that mimics lichen moth caterpillars and is named after the famous US childrens’ author, Eric Carle, who published the book ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ (Logunov D.V. & Obenauer S. 2019). This new species was discovered during a City Nature Challenge event in a park on the outskirts of Hong Kong. See here for more information.

General appearance of live male of Uroballus carlei n. sp. (holotype ♂) photograph from the original paper.

Coleoptera represented the second taxa with most papers published (7 in total). The papers included descriptions of new species from the Himalayas, new records and identification keys from the Brazilian Amazon Region, a monograph of the Afrotropical Cassidinae with description of seven new species, and taxonomy reviews and new species from southern Asia.

The order Trichoptera (caddis flies) featured in phylogenetic research and in a revision of a ‘chimeric’ European genus. The order Phasmatodea (stick insects) featured in a description of three new stick insect species from Vietnam, and Mantodea (praying mantises) in the description of a new genus and two new species of praying mantis from the Vietnam.

All the publications were peer-reviewed. The most popular journals for these publications were Arthopoda Selecta (specialised in morphology, taxonomy, life histories, zoogeography, phylogeny and evolution of arthropods); Zootaxa (journal for animal taxonomists) and the British entomological journal ‘Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine’ published four times a year.

Recurated British Lepidoptera Collection. Bee and Hummingbird Hawkmoths (Hemaris and Macroglossum species).

A complete list of publications:

  1. Arzuza Buelvas D. 2019. The Murphy spider collection at the Manchester Museum: a valuable research resource for arachnologists. Journal of Natural Science Collections, 6: 48-59.
  2. Azarkina G.N. & L.A. Trilikauskas. 2019. Halocosa gen.n., a new genus of Lycosidae (Araneae) from the Palaearctic, with a redescription of H. cereipes (L. Koch, 1878). Zootaxa, 4629(4): 555-570. https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4629.4.4
  3. Azarkina G.N. & Zamani A. 2019. The Aelurillina Simon, 1901 (Aranei: Salticidae) of Iran: a check-list and three new species of Aelurillus Simon, 1884 and Proszynskiana Logunov, 1996. Arthropoda Selecta, 28(1): 83-97.
  4. Bevilaqua M. & da Fonseca C.R.V. 2018. Passalidae (Coleoptera: Scarabaeoidea) from the west-most Brazilian Amazon Region: checklist, new records, and identification key. Neotrop. Entomolol. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13744-018-0656-x
  5. Borowiec L. & Świętojańska J. 2018. A monograph of the Afrotropical Cassidinae (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Part 5. Revision of the genus Aethiopocassis Spaeth. Zootaxa, 4488(1): 001-099. https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4488.1.1
  6. Cook L. 2018. Records of industrial melanism in British moths. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2018, XX: 1-5.
  7. Cook L. 2019. Beetles, butterflies and bibliophilia: the entomological legacy of Robert Wylie Lloyd. Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine, 155: 3-14.
  8. Dockery M. & Logunov D.V. 2018. The Lepidoptera Collection of William Raymond Wooff (1929–2006) in the Manchester Museum. Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine, 154: 271-295.
  9. Ho W.C.G., 2018. Three new species of genus Pylamenes Stal (Phasmatodea: Heteropteridae: Dataminae) from Vietnam. Zoological Systematics, 43(3): 276-282.
  10. Kazantsev S.V. 2018. New and little known species of Lycostomus Motschulsky, 1861 (Coleoptera: Lycidae) from southern Asia. Russian Entomological Journal, 27(4): 371-380.
  11. Keith D. 2019. Sur Phaeochrous pseudintermedius Kuijten, 1978 (Coleoptera Scarabaeoidea Hybosoridae). L’Entomologiste, 75(2): 101-102.
  12. Lecigne S., Cornic J.-F., Oger P. & van Keer J. 2019. Celerrimus n. gen. (Araneae, Philodromidae) et description de Celerrimus duffeyi n. sp., une espèce très singuliere d’Europe occidentale. Revue arachnologique, serie 2, no 6: 32-51.
  13. Logunov D.V. 2019. Obituary: Eric Arthur Gerald Duffey 1922-2019. Arachnology, 18(1): 47-52.
  14. Logunov D.V. 2019. Taxonomic notes on the Harmochirina Simon, 1903 from South and South-East Asia (Aranei: Salticidae). Arthropoda Selecta, 28(1): 99-112.
  15. Logunov D.V. & Obenauer S. 2019. A new species of Uroballus Simon, 1902 (Araneae: Salticidae) from Hong Kong, a jumping spider that appears to mimic lichen moth caterpillars. Israel Journal of Entomology, 49(1): 1-9. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.2632730
  16. Logunov D.V. & Schäfer M. 2019. A new species of Pseudomogrus Simon, 1937 (Araneae: Salticidae) from the Canary Islands. Arachnology, 18(2): 121-126.
  17. Miles, C. 2019. Sphingidae (Lepidoptera) in the collections of Manchester Museum. Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine 155: 77-106.
  18. Nekhaeva A.A., Marusik, Yu.M., Buckle D. 2019. A survey of the Siberio-Nearctic genus Masikia Millidge, 1984 (Aranei: Linyphiidae: Erigoninae). Arthropoda Selecta, 28(1): 157-168.
  19. Olah J., Andersen T., Beshkov S., Ciubuc C., Coppa G., Ibrahimi H., Kovacs T., Olah J. (JR.) & Szczesny B. 2018. Unified phylogenetic species concept: taking subspecies and race out of science: postmodern theory applied to the Potamophylax cingulatus group (Trichoptera, Limnephilidae). Opusc. Zool. Budapest, 49(1): 33-70.
  20. Oláh J., Andersen T., Beshkov S., Coppa G., Ruiz Garcia A. & Johanson K.A. 2019. Revision of European Wormaldia species (Trichoptera, Philopotamidae): Chimeric taxa of integrative organization. Opusc. Zool. Budapest, 50(1): 31-85.
  21. Rücker W.H. 2018. Latridiidae und Merophysiidae der Wets-Paläarktis. Neuwied, W.H. Rücker Selbstverlag, 676 pp.
  22. Tshernyshev S. & Kopetz A. 2018. Myrmecospectra Motchulsky, 1858 – the correct name for Myrmecophasma Bourgeois, 1885 (Insecta: Coleoptera: Cleroidea: Malachiidae), with a review of species and a description of a new species from the Himalayas. In: Hartman M., Barclay M.V.L. & Weipert J. (eds), Biodiversität und Naturausstattung im Himalaya VI., Verein der Freunde und Förderer des Naturkundemuseum Erfurt, Erfurt, pp. 443-453.
  23. Vermeersch X.H.C., Stiewe M.B.D. & Shcherbakov E.O. 2019. A new genus of praying mantis, Chlorocalis n. gen., with two new species from the Greater Mekong region (Mantodea: Mantidae), Annales de la Société entomologique de France (N.S.). https://doi.org/10.1080/00379271.2018.1562380
  24. Zamani A. & Marusik Yu.M. 2018. A new species of the hersiliid spiders (Aranei: Hersiliidae) from Iran. Euroasian Entomological Journal, 17(4): 273-275.
  25. Zamani A. & Marusik Yu.M. 2018. New species and records of Filistatidae (Arachnida: Aranei) from Iran. Arthropoda Selecta, 27(2): 121-128.
  26. Zamani A., Marusik Yu.M. & Malek-Hosseini M.J. 2018. A new species of Tegenaria Latreille, 1804 (Araneae: Agelenidae) from western Iran. Zootaxa, 4444(1): 95–97.
  27. Zamani A., Seiedy M., Saboori A. & Marusik Yu.M. 2018. The spider genus Pterotricha in Iran, with the description of a new genus (Araneae, Gnaphosidae). ZooKeys, 777: 17-41.
  28. Zonstein S. 2018. A revision of the spider genus Anemesia (Araneae, Cyrtaucheniidae). European Journal of Taxonomy 485: 1–100. https://doi.org/10.5852/ejt.2018.485

hello future

This guest post from our Artist in Residence, the fantastic Kate Eggleston-Wirtz describes her first few sessions, working in the Beauty and the Beasts exhibition to build an insect hotel.

As a multi-disciplinary artist specialising in assemblage art I was delighted to be invited to make an ‘Insect Hotel’ whilst being artist in residence within the Beauty and the Beasts: falling in love with insects exhibition at Manchester Museum. The residency began on the 28th February and will finish on the 4th April. I will be in residence on Fridays and Saturdays.

I have used a vintage grandfather clock case as the foundation to the artwork: with climate change currently such hot topic, I decided a clock case would work well to represent the concept that time is of the essence to care for our earth and all living things, as we are interconnected. Although insects are the focus…

View original post 1,067 more words

Weaving through mazes of ancient-looking cabinets, the ever-present scent of mothballs permeating the air, one can only begin to comprehend the breadth and magnitude of the Museum of Manchester’s entomological collection of 2.5 million specimens. Much of it was donated or bequeathed from individual collections, and as such, allows a fascinating representation of the history of entomology around the world. By studying these collections, we can not only gain insight into the insects themselves, we can reveal peculiarities about the contexts in which they were collected. In today’s blog post, I would like to introduce you to a drawer of particular interest, originating from the collection of Mr. Joseph Sidebotham.

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Josef Sidebotham, the frontispiece from Grindon’s (1886) memoir

Joseph Sidebotham (1824 – 1885) was a Mancunian businessman with a broad range of interests including, but certainly not limited to, natural history (Cook, 2015). A member of numerous scientific societies and highly esteemed in his community, his collection of Lepidoptera was donated to the Museum by his heirs in 1919, and included 1,900 species of mostly British origin. At first glance, they appear relatively consistent with other individual collections of the time. The butterflies are set with their wings depressed, nearly touching the bottom of the drawers, a style of mounting which was common until the 1860s. Despite being very aesthetically pleasing, only a few are labelled with dates or locations, as many personal collectors did not regard this information as vital.

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The style of butterfly mounting in the Sidebotham collection; the Manchester Museum.

Upon closer inspection, elements of mystery begin to reveal themselves. The left-most column displays Orange-tip Butterflies (Anthocharis cardamines), which are a sexually dimorphic species, meaning that males and females look different. Male Orange-tip butterflies have (you guessed it) orange-tipped wings, while the females have more inconspicuous colouration. So, what are those two specimens in the middle, each with a single orange-tipped wing?

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Drawer of butterflies from the Sidebotham collection; the Manchester Museum.

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Two gynangromorph specimens of the Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines) from the collection of the Manchester Museum.

Those individuals are known as gynandromorphs, meaning they show both male and female characteristics (gyn – female, andro – male, morph – form). Resulting from errors during early development, they are uncommon in nature, but gynandromorphy has been documented in a wide range of insects (see Narita et al., 2010 for further details), spiders (e.g., Kaston, 1961) crustaceans (e.g., brine shrimps; see Campos-Ramos et al., 2006) (and even birds (Agate et al.,2003). It is most easily distinguished in sexually dimorphic species; however the pattern of male and female tissue can differ between individuals. Bilateral gynandromorphs, such as the Orange-tips above, have a left-right split of male and female characteristics. Individuals of the same species with a more random distribution of tissues, known as mosaic gynandromorphism, can also be found.

The matching pair of Orange-tips were likely a point of pride within Sidebotham’s collection, as their opposing colouration provides a striking example of gynandromorphism, and such specimens were often favoured by insect collectors due to their rarity and unusual appearance. Besides, these specimens seem to represent one of the oldest records of gynandromorphism in Lepidoptera (Narita et al., 2010). Now, they provide the Museum with not only an educational tool, but an intriguing little piece of history.

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Jamie Burnett, the author of this post, with a drawer of butterflies from J. Sidebotham’s collection.

If you’d like to know more about Joseph Sidebotham, see online here and here.

If you’d like to know more about gynandromorphism in general, see online here and here.

If you’d like to know more about gynandromorphism in arthropods see online here.