In this series of podcasts, we’ll find out how insects are vital pollinators, dung buriers, pests and even sources of food for both wildlife and humans. We’ll also hear how insect’s spectacular beauty and importance has led to many dedicating their lives to conserve them from extinction or even breed them so we can enjoy them in our homes as exciting pets. Overall, insects are marvellous creatures to work with. Come join and experience the fantastic world of Entomology!
Jeremy Thomas – Butterfly ecology and conservation
Professor Jeremy Thomas of Oxford University and president of the Royal Entomological Society talks about the essential need to understand the ecology and behaviour of a species in order to conserve it, how his research helped reintroduce an extinct species of butterfly to the UK, and what the Royal Entomological Society can do for us.
Sarah Beynon – Dung beetles and agricultural entomology
Ecologist, farmer and TV presenter, Dr Sarah Beynon, gives us a great introduction on dung beetle biology, explains why they’re so important to our planet’s ecosystems, and highlights the dangers of using toxic chemicals in livestock rearing to the health and abundance of these beneficial insects.
Rod Clarke – Natural history cinematography
Rod Clarke – cinematographer for David Attenborough’s ‘Life’ series of documentaries, Africa, and more recently Hidden Kingdoms – gives a technical insight into the practicalities of filming insects, explains how important it is to be on their level to get into their world, and tells us why they are the most fascinating animals to film.
Camille Parmesan – The responses of insects to climate change
Professor Camille Parmesan of the University of Plymouth explains how insects are responding to climate change in space and time, and why insects are the perfect study organisms for answering the biggest questions in ecology and evolution
Graham Smith – Captive breeding of exotic insects
Co-founder of invertebrate suppliers Metamorphosis, Graham Smith, describes how to work out the reproductive biology of exotic insects new to captivity, how captive breeding and affordable suppliers reduce the risk of illegal collecting from the wild, and why insects make exciting and intellectually stimulating pets.
Lin Field – Using genomics to understand insecticide resistance
Professor Lin Field of Rothamstead Research discusses how insect pests can develop resistance against even the most potent chemical insecticides, how we can use their genetic sequences to develop new methods to control them, and debates whether the use of neonicotinoid insecticides are causing the recent decline in bee abundances.
Jane Memmott – Urban Pollinators
Head of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, Professor Jane Memmott, tells us about how our cities can still be a valuable home for large numbers of pollinator species, why you shouldn’t mow down your dandelions, and why the Urban Pollinators research project can be so rewarding.
In Part Two we hear about George’s extensive work on TV, his continuing efforts to get an insect natural history series back on the air, and why it’s necessary to dig in elephant poo for two hours to get the perfect shot.
George McGavin – Switching from Academia to the TV
Dr George McGavin – presenter of such TV shows as Lost Land of The Jaguar, Planet Ant, and Ultimate Swarms – joins us for a special two-part interview.
In Part One, George tells us about why insects are so fascinating, how switching from academia to the media was the ultimate way to spread his passion for insects to the nation, and how he impressed Heston Blumenthal with his meal-worm loaf.
Richard Comont – Citizen Science
Data officer at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Dr Richard Comont, tells us how we, the citizens, can contribute first hand to national research projects and conservation through the power of ‘citizen science’. Why not start today by recording your ladybird sightings for the UK Ladybird Survey and conducting your own BeeWalk?
Simon Leather – Aphids, Entomology today, Applied Entomology
Professor of Entomology at Harper Adams University, Simon Leather, tells us how research on insects can really make a difference internationally, how roundabouts can be a boost to biodiversity, and gives us a look into the state of Entomology today.
Darren Mann – Taxonomy and Museum Curation
Darren Mann – head of the University of Oxford Natural History Museum’s Life collections – talks about what it’s like to manage the millions of specimens the museum contains, how to identify a bee that flew into someone’s bathroom, and how taxonomy – the scientific naming and identification of species – is vital to ecological research.
Podcast – Jess French, TV presenter and author
Jess French, presenter of CBeebies series ‘Minibeast Adventures with Jess’, tells us of her experiences working with children and her joy in seeing their enthusiasm for insects and the natural world.