EntoMasters on Tour – The Royal Entomological Society

Monday the 3rd of November saw the Harper Adams Entomology and IPM students make their way down to The Mansion House situated outside of historic St. Albans for a visit to the hub of Entomology in the UK – The Royal Entomological Society. Coming in from the drizzly November morning we were met with tea, coffee, an array of delicious biscuity treats and friendly faces, much needed after being stuck in M1 traffic for a number of hours.

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Refreshing English Drizzle

Founded in 1833 and granted its royal charter by Queen Victoria in 1885, the principal aim of the society is ‘to promote the dissemination of knowledge in all fields of insect science and to improve communication between entomologists ’. The society, once situated in 41 Queens Gate, London, moved out of the capital in 2008 to the fantastic premises they inhabit in St. Albans today which has enabled a greater amount of funding to be allocated to research, journals and a number of awards for recognising achievement. Many fellows of the society are well renowned and famously include Charles Darwin, Alfred Russell Wallace and Harpers own Professor Simon Leather (Signatures can be found in the obligations book – here is Darwin’s! https://twitter.com/EntoProf/status/529359332157448192/photo/1).

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A Strepsiptera – Twisted Wing Parasite

After dosing up on hot drinks and biscuits we were shown into a small lecture room and listened to talks provided by members of the society. First up was Society’s Director of Science, Professor Jim Hardie, who welcomed us and gave us an insight into the history of the society including what insect is on the logo.

The floor was then handed over to Dr Luke Tilley, director of Outreach and coordinator of National Insect Week, who reinforced the importance of communication and enthusiasm about insects to the wider population and the need to inspire the next generation of potential entomologists. National Insect Week, organised by the Royal Entomological Society, brings together partners and multitude of hardworking volunteers who all share a keen interest in the science, history and conservation of insects to pass on their knowledge to the public and happens every two years across the United Kingdom (For more information on insects and how to get involved in National Insect Week 2016 visit http://www.nationalinsectweek.co.uk/).

As a short interactive exercise for practicing these communications skills we split into small groups and composed short fact files on various insects and tweets on a couple of journal articles. These needed to be eye-catching, interesting and be understandable from the viewpoint of someone who does not necessarily have a scientific background. Even though it was only a bit of fun it got the creative juices flowing and certainly made us think outside of the box.

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Kelleigh and Aidan enjoying the spread

Following this we had a delicious buffet lunch (The miniature yorkshire puddings being my personal favourite) along with a cheeky glass of wine and were given the opportunity to explore the society building. One thing that is noticeable when you first walk in is the fantastic collection of books that is spread throughout the ground floor. These all centre around the Royal Entomological Society library which holds very well preserved, rare books some pre-dating 1850 and all managed by the society’s librarian Val McAtear who bought out some examples and was incredibly trusting enough to let the Harper Students handle and look through them!

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Hundreds of years old and still extraordinarily vibrant

After perusing the RES merchandise and purchasing everything from books to umbrellas it was finally time to brave the M1 and head back up to Shropshire. On behalf of the Harper Adams Entomology and IPM masters I would like to thank the Royal Entomological Society for their hospitality and a great day out.

Richard Prew

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