The past couple of weeks I have been quite busy changing (what seems like a billion) object location and other Modes related exciting things so I haven’t go round to writing a blog that isn’t a Find it Friday recently, but I will do one next week. But for now…
This weeks object is more of a collection and is part of the larger Vernon Park natural history collection that I have been working on for a while now, but a part that I haven’t touched upon to date.
These are some specimens from our Entomology collection. This is the small part of the collection that was once on display at Vernon Park but we have a larger collection of insects that we hold here at the curatorial services.
This collection is one of great importance, not only at our museum but all museums; Entomology is an extremely important science and without museum collections it would be limited in its further exploration. The identification of insects is vital in so many ways as the studying of them can be useful in so many a field; many insects can look a like but can differ in their characterises, their threats to various aspects of our lives including health issues as well as environmental ones. To identify an insect could be the difference between harmless insects infiltrating a population and the devastating effects others might bring.
These Entomology collections are useful tools in training the next generation of taxonomists to classify the future; as it is estimated that insects make up over 2/3 of the worlds organisms with about 1.3 million described species to date, documenting these for science is an ongoing task. Not to mention the new species that are being discovered that could differ from a known species only by a tiny, almost unrecognisable feature if examples of the latter are not referenced in its description. Museums hold the original type specimens (read more HERE) which species are described from and this is essential for further identification and to keep a documented record.
The way the Entomology specimens are stored is different from the rest of our collection. Obviously, the size and nature of these samples mean they are very fragile, which means loosing a leg or an antenna here and there can be too often a occurrence, so storing them safety and correctly is paramount.
Most of the objects in the larger collection are stored in boxes and individually wrapped in acid free tissue paper. The insects however are pinned. These specimens are kept dry, their wings are usually spread and the pins hold them in place. Enough pin must be left so the insect could be moved by holding the pin and the specimen not touched. For further information concerning preserving and pinning a collection visit Queensland Museums website HERE, they offer excellent and useful guides, from equipment to methods and storage.
We store our pinned specimens in draws or specially designed storage boxes that allow safe pinning inside.
Despite the obvious, using these collections for scientific research, public outreach and the such, the identification of insects is not only important with them entering an environment on a large-scale, ie: the country, but also on a small-scale, ie: museums.
Pests getting into a collection can be damaging; they can ruin anything from taxidermy to clothing to paper, and the stuff in between. If one bug can get into a collection they can spread throughout it like wildfire damaging the condition and quality of your precious and priceless collection items. Freezing objects that may be infested or that have been around objects in such a condition is a must when they are entering a collection; you can read about my most recent freezer trips HERE.
We also use insect monitoring traps around the entire building, these attract any insects to a sticky underside which then traps them. They are checked on a regular basis so if any insects that are known to eat, damage or live in a museum environment are found further steps can then be taken to stop any sort of outbreak occurring.
Here are some more photos of the rest of the Entomology collection: