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Insect Festival 2009

The yellow T-shirt brigade of helpers
Face Painting
Getting ready to go on the Mini Beast Hunt
Mini beast hunting

Photos all © Kevin Heads 2009

Insect Festival 2009

Over 800 people visited the Insect Festival at York on Saturday 4 July with many more attracted to the outdoor activities an overwhelming success on all counts.

Despite the rain the day before, Saturday dawned bright and clear. Displays were set up, gazebos erected and pooters were laid out. When the event started at 10 a.m. there was quickly a queue of children and adults for the minibeast hunts, face painting and build your own minibeast stalls in the gazebos that stood in the Museum Gardens at the entrance to the main event which was held in the 14th century Hospitium building.

Inside, spread over two floors, were some 30 exhibits and displays ranging from entomological ceramics (Ento Ceramics) and jewellery (Kool-Kulture), to an observation hive of honeybees (National Bee Unit), and from Buglife to the Simpson Collection of entomological memorabilia. As the day warmed up so did the exhibition space and the press of people made it even warmer. Unfortunately, as one exhibitor observed, it didn't look as if the windows of the Hospitium had been opened for about 200 years!

Outside, the crowds flocked to the stands. Some had heard about us in advance through President, Prof Lin Field's interview on Radio York early that morning. Others had been attracted by the flyers, distributed in York City Centre. Still more had just noticed the troops of young minbeast hunters with insects painted on their faces marauding through the Museum Gardens  an unscientific poll by the face painters suggests that girls like pink butterflies and boys like spiders (OK they are not insects, but they are minibeasts).

During the day there were public talks, shows and presentations in the Tempest Anderson Hall, a huge auditorium in the Yorkshire Museum .  The themes included thought provoking science (Climate Change; Chris Thomas, University of York), shows aimed at younger entomologists (Buzzing!; Anneliese Emmans Dean, poet and photographer), and presentations on current issues (Harlequin Ladybird; Lori Lawson Handley, University of Hull). Outside the insect hunters were finding Harlequin Ladybirds in the trees.

A key feature of the Insect Festival was the Art Competition for Schools and the winners in each age group were:

Age group 4-5 years

1st Ellie Driscoll, aged 5, Hempland Primary School, Butterfly.
2nd Logan Clavert, aged 5, Pocklington CE VC Infant School, Bee
3rd Byron Pollock, aged 5, Clifton Green Primary School, Butterfly.

Age group 6-7 years

1st Holly Pearson, aged 6, Lakeside Primary School, Butterfly collage.
2nd Alexander Knight, aged 7, Hempland Primary School, Thornbug.
3rd Ella Meere, aged 7, Tregelles, Butterfly.


Age group 8-9 years


1st Isobel Hine, aged 9, Bishop Wilton School, Grasshopper. OVERALL WINNER
2nd Eleanor Richardson, aged 9, Linton on Ouse Priamry School, Honeybee
3rd Tallulah Mae Brennan, aged 9, St Aelred's, Cardinal Beetle.

Age group 10-11 years

1st Megan Lehair, age 11, Linton on Ouse, Primary School, 14 spot ladybird.
2nd Harry Whitwell, age 10, Melbourne Community Primary School, Grasshopper
3rd Abigail Kitchen, age 10, St Martin's CE VA Primary School, Honeybee.


Another popular competition was Find the Phylliums leaf insects in a jar, organized by David George. The jar contained a few adults and many nymphs and estimates ranged from seven to well over 100. The correct answer was 40, and the winners W. Clements and Ellie Drew each received a prize of an RES mug.


That the event ran so smoothly was partly down to months of careful preparation on the part of the convenors (Julie North, Luke Tilley, Gordon Port), Bill Blakemore, Kirsty Whiteford and the staff at Mansion House, but also to the team of yellow t-shirted volunteers who helped at every turn (the yellow t-shirts make excellent insect traps as well). The staff of the Yorkshire Museum were on hand to help wherever they could, from running tours of the collections to pre-festival moth trapping. With such a busy and successful event everyone was quite exhausted by the end of the day, but as the crowds and exhibitors departed there was already talk of repeating the event in 2011. We have already identified Saturday 2 July as a potential data.


Feedback from visitors and those taking part, both during and after the Festival was extremely positive. It was agreed that our aim of disseminating insect knowledge and generating some entomological interest, especially amongst the young, was achieved. As they left the museum gardens one exhibitor overheard a little girl asking her dad,
Is it open every day?.
Is what open every day the dad replied.
The insect show said the daughter.

We would like to thank all the helpers, exhibitors and visitors that made the Insect Festival such a wonderful event.

Julie North, Luke Tilley, Gordon Port.