BENHS Annual Exhibition

Saturday 12th November 2016

This was our third visit to the Annual Exhibition of the British Entomological and Natural History Society, held for the third time in Conway Hall in London. Tim Newton, Robert Ratford, Paul Smith and Alan Wood braved the rain and took their microscopes, slides and accessories and manned the Club’s stand as part of our microscopy outreach programme, to promote the use of microscopes to a hall full of entomologists.

Visitors in Conway HallVisitors in Conway Hall

Even before the exhibition had officially started, visitors came by to use our microscopes to look at their insects, and during the day we had some long and interesting chats with visitors, about stereomicroscopes (including their unsuitability for stacking), digital eyepiece cameras, camera attachments for digital SLRs, tethering software, reducing vibration, stacking, stitching, alternatives to Canada balsam, flattening insect eyes, long working distance objectives, and LED and fibre-optics illuminators. Several people were interested in the Club, and we hope to see some of then at meetings in the near future.

Roger Booth using our stereomicroscopeRoger Booth using our stereomicroscope to identify a beetle

Tim Newton, Robert Ratford and Paul SmithIrma Irsara, Tim Newton, Robert Ratford and Paul Smith

Tim Newton brought a no-name Chinese stereomicroscope borrowed from the Northamptonshire Natural History Society with LED top and bottom lighting that ran all day powered by a rechargeable battery.  Tim also brought several slides of Dytiscus marginalis L. (great diving beetle), mostly Victorian but including one that he had made.

Tim Newton’s exhibitTim Newton’s exhibit

Tim Newton’s slidesTim Newton’s slides

Tim Newton’s shirtTim wore a very suitable shirt!

Robert Ratford examining Tim Newton’s slidesRobert Ratford examining Tim Newton’s slides

Alan Wood brought his Olympus BHMJ metallurgical microscope (formerly owned by Brian Bracegirdle) set up for photomicrography with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II connected via USB to a laptop running EOS Utility software. Lighting was provided by an Ikea Jansjö work lamp.

Alan Wood’s exhibitAlan Wood’s exhibit

Alan brought a photograph of a female Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura) that he had trapped as part of Chris Thomas’s survey, with a video of stacking in Zerene Stacker (produced with the free OBS Studio software) and a video showing the 83 separate images (produced with the free Windows Movie Maker software).

Female of Drosophila suzukiiFemale of Drosophila suzukii

Click the arrow at bottom left to watch the video (4 minutes), click the symbol to the left of “vimeo” for full screen

Click the arrow at bottom left to watch the video (1 minute), click the symbol to the left of “vimeo” for full screen

Alan also demonstrated stitching, with a video of the free Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE) software combining 6 images of a £50 note.

Click the arrow at bottom left to watch the video (67 seconds), click the symbol to the left of “vimeo” for full screen

The displays of insects included a wide range of sizes and orders, and some damage apples and leaves.

Migrant LepidopteraMigrant Lepidoptera


Apples with insect damageApples with insect damage

Leaf minesLeaf mines

Brittlegill mushroomsBrittlegill mushrooms (Russula spp.)

We were not the only people showing Drosophila suzukii; Peter Chandler included specimens and a photograph in his survey of Diptera from Windsor Forest and Great Park.

Insects from WindsorInsects from Windsor

Moths from NiceMoths from Nice

Specimens from my favourite placeSpecimens from my favourite place

There were some nice photographs of insects on display too.

Photographs of insectsPhotographs of insects

Visitors examining the displaysVisitors examining the displays

Visitors examining the Microlepidoptera displaysVisitors examining the Microlepidoptera displays

Other exhibitors included the Amateur Entomologists’ Society, the British Myriapod and Isopod Group, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation, the British Dragonfly Society, the Angela Marmont Centre (with the new Beginner’s guide to identifying British ichneumonids by Nicola Prehn and Chris Raper) and the London Natural History Society. Pemberley Books had a stand with some very tempting new and second-hand books.

Pemberley Books standPemberley Books stand

British Dragonfly Society standBritish Dragonfly Society stand

Our thanks to Rosemary Hill, Exhibition Secretary of the BENHS, for arranging a large table with an electricity supply for us. We have booked a table for the 2017 Annual Exhibition on Saturday 4th November, in Conway Hall again.

Report and photographs by Alan Wood

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