Jonathan Ross Launches National Insect Week 2014 At The Natural History Museum

Jonathan Ross Launches National Insect Week 2014 At The Natural History MuseumTelevision chat show host Jonathan Ross visited the Natural History Museum on 24 June, to launch National Insect Week 2014.

He was photographed with a stag beetle to highlight the theme of this year’s National Insect Week: Little Things That Run The World.

National Insect Week, now in its sixth year, was organised by the Royal Entomological Society (RES) which partnered with the Natural History Museum – home to the largest collection of invertebrates in the world – for the prestigious launch event.

Jonathan said: “You might not think insects can be fun but they are! They’re also hugely important and National Insect Week is a great way of improving everyone’s knowledge about them and the role they play in habitats not just in the UK but across the world. I never knew there was so much to learn about insects!”

Hundreds of events were held across the UK, from bug hunts and bioblitzes to minibeast safaris and moth nights. The week culminated in a royal bioblitz in the grounds of Highgrove – the private residence of HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. Prince Charles has previously taken part in a National Insect Week bioblitz at Clarence House.

This year’s launch event at the Natural History Museum also featured a ‘Question Time’ style panel of eminent entomologists – chaired by Jonathan Ross, who answered questions from the public about insect species and the role they play in different habitats.

National Insect Week coordinator Luke Tilley said: “We’re delighted Jonathan could join us for the launch of Insect Week 2014 which has proved even more popular this year with more than 350 events held right across the UK. All of them will play a vital role in our campaign to inform and educate people of all ages about insects and how they really do run the world.”

The launch event was attended by Year 4 pupils from Drayton Park, Highbury, as well as partners of National Insect Week who included the Natural History Museum, the National Trust, the RSPB, the Royal Horticultural Society, the Association of Science Education and the Environment Agency which provided the insects for the day.

Alastair Driver, National Conservation Manager for the Environment Agency said: “Not only are insects hugely valuable pollinators, cost-free pest controllers, superb indicators of water quality, and the canary in the mine for climate warming, but they can also be stunningly beautiful and charismatic. It’s time we started valuing them much more than we have in the past.”

N.I.W organisers also launched its popular photography competition which focuses on the theme Little Things That Run the World. Details about the competition can be found at: Closing date 31 October 2014.

Fascinating Insect Facts

• Never liked dragonflies? You will now! Did you know many countries use dragonflies to control the population of mosquitos? Using the dragonfly nymphs and dropping them into the water container can remove most of the larvae in the water

• ‘Kissing bugs’ may sound like a very friendly name for an insect but did you know that several of these bugs found in Americas are of huge health concern. They feed on the blood of a sleeping person and excrete protozoan blood parasite near the wound which causes Chaga’s disease, responsible for 50,000 deaths every year. Not so friendly after all.

• You must have seen those green little insects feeding on plant sap in your garden commonly known as aphids. But what’s fascinating is the fact that every female Aphid develops a nymph inside her which in turn contains a developing aphid embryo quite similar to a Russian doll. This means that every female carries her own grand-daughter.

• Ever wished to be born with a can of pepper spray in your abdomen? Well strangely enough ground beetles are born with one. They discharge a noxious, highly irritant fluid (harmless to humans) from the tip of their abdomen. Which is also used as a ‘pepper spray’ by the female ground beetles to deter over amorous males.

• Who doesn’t love ladybirds? They are apparently the only insects loved by almost every human. Surprisingly, one of the biggest threats to a young ladybird is another young ladybird - cannibalism is common, even though larvae may try to avoid eating their siblings.

• You reckon you are faster than an insect? Apparently not as fast as Hoverflies, they can fly in bursts of up to 40km per hour.

• Unlike bumblebees and honeybees, Cuckoo bees do not live in colonies, instead they lay their eggs in the nests of bumblebees. Having killed the honeybee queen, the female cuckoo bee leaves her offspring to be reared by the bumblebee workers.

Image: Up close and personal, Jonathan Ross with stag beetle at the launch of National Insect Week 2014.