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Archive for May, 2010

Saturday the 15th of May, Phil Rispin, the assistant curator of the Manchester Museum’s Entomology Department, run a moth trapping event for the friends of Victoria park (Stretford, Manchester), as an official part of the National Moth Night. About twenty people turned up, and the event started with a collecting session using beating trays at 7.00pm.

 Two species of micro-moths were found. The first was the Lilac Leafminer or Privet Leafminer (Caloptilia syringella), a very small moth of the family Gracillariidae, a common species throughout Britain; the larvae of this moth feed on privet and lilac (this is why its name), and can be a pest in gardens. The second was an even smaller moth which is yet to be identified. A number of spiders, such as long-jawed spiders, and several species of beetles were also collected.

 At 9.00pm, the moth trap was switched on (see in the Figure) and left running to10.30pm. Unfortunately, no moth was caught, which was very disappointing, though children and Phil expected something to turn up. The reason was likely to be the clear sky and cold weather conditions, not suitable for flying moths. However, the children had a good night, and they seemed to enjoy running around with the butterfly nets and using the beating trays.

Collecting moths by light moth-trap is always an excitement (Chorlton, Manchester, 15/05/2010)

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Many people are concerned with saving of notable mammals and bird but hardly of insects and other creepy-crawlies. Invertebrates (insects and allied groups) are the most diverse and abundant, but yet barely know animals. It is believed that up to 44,000 bugs of all varieties could have become extinct during the last 600 years. Of them, only 72 insect extinctions have been documented worldwide since the 15th century. Habitat loss is one of the main reasons responsible for the extinction of insects.

 The Sloan’s Urania (Urania sloanus) was one of the most spectacular dayflying moth species, endemic to the island of Jamaica. It was last reported in 1894 or 1895, but possibly surviving until at least 1908. Habitat loss, when Jamaica’s lowland rainforests were cleared and converted to agricultural land during the colonial era, may have contributed to its extinction. Most probably, this species disappeared due to the loss of one of its larval foodplants, as Urania larvae feed exclusively on rainforest lianas belonging to the genus Omphalea.

 The photographed specimen is one of the three specimens of this unique species retained in the Manchester Museum. None of them has got any associated label saying when and who collected them. Most probably, these specimens were purchased from one of the London natural history dealers at the end of 19th century. These specimens constitute a valuable part of C.H. Schill World Lepidoptera collection acquired by the Manchester Museum in March 1893.

One of the three specimens of Urania sloanus kept in the Manchester Museum

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Dr Dmitri Logunov of Manchester Museum has been working closely with Tracy Hurst, a Visual Arts student at Salford University. She is creating a piece of artwork focussing on self portraits. However, these are not paintings or drawings.

Tracy invites people, curators, artists, students and complete strangers to chew a piece of bubbly gum. She  takes the chewed gum and creates stone plaster versions. Each piece of sculpture is classified using the three label system employed by entomologists. The pieces are then pinned into a wooden collectors case.

Each specimen has a latin name created for them, in Dr Dmitri Logunov’s case it is, ‘dimitri-vir ingenious de cimex,’ his Accession Lot Number is, F3313, the locality is ‘Manchester Museum’ and the habitat is classed as ‘Naphthalene’.

The specimen taken from Tracy's Tutor at Salford University

The  work is still in progress but will be available to be viewed by the public at Salford University from 3rd June 2010.

Dmitri is unwrapping the gum.

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The Spiny Devil Walkingstick (Eurycantha horrida) is a well-camouflaged stick insect from Papua New Guinea. This insect looks to imitate a piece of baric and is also known as New Guinean land lobster. Its body is 10 to 12 cm in length and has an oily sheen. The body is covered in small spines. Males have a large ‘spur’ on the inside of each femur, which they use to defend themselves against an attack or during competition with other males. There are reports that in captivity adult males and females of the Spiny Devil Walkingstick form bonds if kept together for the period of a year or longer. If one dies, the surviving insect not only stays with the corpse for a few days afterwards but sometimes the survivor refuses to eat or drink and dies as well.

The photographed male is the only specimen of this species available in the Manchester Museum; collected from New Guinea.

The female of Eurycantha horrida from the Manchester Museum's collection

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