The Verrall Supper 2013

Once a year, on the first Wednesday of every March, when the weather is especially chilly (or so it seems), entomologists can be seen flocking towards the bright lights of London. As they wend their way towards South Kensington you may be forgiven for thinking that there is some kind of mass migration going on, and it’s true, entomologists do often seek warmer climes than Britain may have to offer, if only because of the abundance of insects is so much greater in those areas of the world where it is hot and sticky (and if there is one thing that entomologists cannot refuse, it’s an abundance of insects).
But on this occassion you would be wrong. For the first Wednesday of every March is devoted to the Verrall Supper. Arguably the highlight of the social calendar for all entomologists, the evening consists of a lecture, hosted by the Royal Entomological Society and presented by a distinguished entomologist, which is then followed by drinks, dinner and much socialising.

This year the dinner was hosted at The Rembrandt Hotel which is a short stroll from the Natural History Museum. Staff from the HEC left Oxford early in order to spend some time in the collections in the NHM, checking type specimens and doing a little research as a form of pre-dinner exercise just to sharpen our appetites.
The Rembrandt Hotel was a new venue for the Verrall Supper which for the last 10 or more years has been held at Imperial College. It proved to be an excellent setting although it seemed to take everyone a little while to get used to the idea that the tables were round instead of the long bench style table at Imperial that seat about 60 people. This new format made mingling with other guests between courses much easier however and it has to have been one of the chattiest Suppers that any of us have to been to in a while. Of course, the fact that there was 183 collected entomologists (a recent high in attendance) in the room might also have played a part.

Verrall Supper, The Entomology Club, entomologist, entomology
What’s the collective noun for entomologist’s? A colony? Maybe a rabble? Cluster? Army? Clutter? Intrusion? Answers in the comments box below!

Verrall Supper, The Entomology Club, entomologist, entomology
Zoë Simmons and Dr Jose Nunez-Mino, an associate of the HEC
Verrall Supper, The Entomology Club, entomologist, entomology
Amoret Spooner and Mike Wilson, Head of Entomology at National Museum, Wales.

Verrall Supper, The Entomology Club, entomologist, entomology
Darren Mann (right), talking to Charles Godfray (left), Hope Professor, Oxford.

One other notable change was the increase in the number of people documenting the ocassion. Social media is fast becoming a part of peoples daily lives so it wasn’t too much of a surprise to find that the Verrall Supper had acquired it’s own hashtag on Twitter or that photos of the dinner appeared within minutes of the courses being served.

If you would like further information about the history of the Verrall Supper or the Entomological Club through which the supper was established then there is an excellent publication on the subject by Pamela Gilbert.

Gilbert, P. (2005). The Entomological Club and Verrall Supper: A History (1826-2004). The Entomological Club c/o The Royal Entomologists Society. Headley Brothers Ltd, Kent.


A date for everyone’s diary

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We are pleased to announce that we will be hosting the BENHS for their Member’s Day/AGM on the 23rd of March.

“The Society was founded in 1872 as the South London Entomological and Natural History Society and since its inception has always included amongst its members many of the leading entomologists of the day.

The objectives of the Society are the promotion and advancement of research in entomology with an increasing emphasis now being placed on the conservation of the fauna and flora of the United Kingdom and the protection of wildlife throughout the world”.

The department has in the past, greatly enjoyed hosting the BENHS and other societies for a variety of different events and we hope that this occassion will be as entertaining as the others. We expect it to be a busy day, with staff dividing their time between the lecture theatre, the collections and socialising with members. We will be on hand to try and answer any questions people may have about the collections or entomology in general as well as to make sure that there is plenty of tea and biscuits avaliable to help fuel the thinking.

Details of the meeting, which is open to members and non-members alike, can be found below. 

AGM and Members’ Day Programme Saturday 23rd March 2013
Hosted by the Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PW
All of the meeting is open to both members and non-members, although only members are allowed to vote on any motions put to the AGM.
Exhibits of live or dead insects, photos, literature, posters etc. will be most welcome. Please display these in the lecture theatre when you arrive. They may then be viewed and discussed during the lunch break.
Within the UK, the Hope Entomological Collections are second in size and importance to the national insect collection at the Natural History Museum, London. The collection houses over 25,000 arthropod types, and comprises over 5 million specimens.  The collection includes many specimens of great historical interest from such sources as the Hope-Westwood and Verrall-Collin collections. 
For those wishing to consult the collection during the day, please contact the department in advance:


Programme for the day
10.15   Arrive, coffee/tea, display of exhibits

10.50   Welcoming remarks and introduction to the day

11.00   Galls and their insects. Margaret Redfern (University of Sheffield and British Plant Gall Society)

11.35   21st century insect arrivals in the UK.Sharon Reid (FERA)

12.10   The effects of extreme fluctuating temperatures on aphid life history traits. Christopher Jeffs

            (University of Oxford). Student presentation

12.30   Facing up to Beetles. Michael Darby (BENHS)

12.50   Something different. Glenda Orledge (BENHS) Please bring a pen or pencil for this item

13.00   Lunch and viewing of exhibits (bring your own packed lunch or forage in one of the nearby pubs or


14.00   Society notices

14.15   Annual General Meeting with elections, reports and Presidential Address (PTO for AGM notice)

15.00   Extreme Insects. Richard Jones (BENHS). By special invitation of the President

15.45   Conclusion of the AGM and Tea

16.00   Tour of the entomological collections,led by Darren J. Mann

16.45   Close of meeting