PEOPLE: TOM GREENWAY

Meet Tom Greenway, Junior HOPE Collections Assistant.

Tom plays a crucial role in the HOPE for the Future project.  He is one of a team of five who are carefully preserving our amazing British insect collection for future generations. 

“The coolest thing about my job is getting to see

all the weird and wonderful specimens we have in the collection!” 

“Who are you calling weird?” The Acorn Weevil, Curculio glandium. ©OUMNH

Tom hasn’t always worked in museums.  He studied music production and performance at college and then worked in a record store for 13 years where he organised events with acts such as Mcfly and We are Scientists (do you think the names of these acts were trying to tell you him something about his future?!). After leaving the record store, Tom had lots of different jobs including touring with a band in Europe, playing festivals and recording albums! 

Weevil, Weevil Rock You!

Tom saw an advert for an apprenticeship on the HOPE project and thought this would be a great chance to work in a museum.  He didn’t have a background in science or nature but has always loved museums and is passionate about environmental issues. He sees his work as an important contribution in helping us and future generations understand the effects of human actions on our planet, including climate change, habitat loss and industrial agriculture.  Tom has recently been promoted from Apprentice to Junior HOPE Collections Assistant in recognition of his excellent work on the project.

“I think the most surprising thing is learning about the classification of organisms that shows evolutionary relationships between species that you would not expect to be related. I’ve also enjoyed learning about the history of entomology and the history of the classification of insect species.”

What have insects ever done for us? with George McGavin

The impact of insects on the natural world is colossal. Without them, the Earth would be a very different place and most terrestrial vertebrates that depend on them directly as food would become extinct. The loss of bees alone might cause the extinction of a quarter of all life on Earth. A total loss of insects would be devastating for the human population.

After 25 years as an academic at Oxford University, George McGavin became an award-winning television presenter. He is an Honorary Research Associate of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, an Honorary Principal Research Fellow at Imperial College, and an Honorary Life Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society.  As well as his many TV documentaries, George has written numerous books on insects and other animals. In 2019 he became the President of the Dorset Wildlife Trust.

George gave this live online lecture on 4 November 2020 and responded to questions asked by people watching at the time. You can watch a recording of What have insects ever done for us? on youtube.

The November Moth

The insect of the month has to be the November Moth, Epirrita dilutata. This moth is widespread in the UK and, although it gets its common name from its appearance in November, you can spot adults flying throughout the autumn in woods, hedgerows, parks and gardens.

The wingspan is 38-44mm with a dark wavy pattern against a lighter background. It’s easy to easy to mix this moth up with two similar species, the pale November moth E. christyi and the Autumnal Moth E. autumnata, both of which look similar. To make things even more confusing, all three species also have darker forms!

The caterpillar can be found in the spring and summer months feeding on a range of deciduous trees and shrubs. It is one of the ‘inch worms’ or ‘loopers’ that move by stretching out, then bringing their rear end forward to meet the front, forming a loop. They the stretch their front end out again and repeat the process. They are about an inch (2.5cm) long so it looks as if they are measuring as they move along.

Welcome to Crunchy on the Outside!

Crunchy on the outside is a new blog for and by young entomologists.

Interested in insects? Perhaps you saw something we posted online, came to the museum, or maybe we visited you at school for an Insect Discovery Day. However you heard of us, if you’re interested in insects this is the place for you!

We’ll be sharing news about insects and the natural world, people who work insects and help to protect them, what goes on at the museum, and new things for you to make and do. Look out for:

  • A peek behind the scenes at the museum
  • Insect related things to make and do
  • Info about people who work with insects, both past and present
  • Cool facts and stories about the amazing insects we can find in this country
  • A chance to have your say regarding what is in this blog and the museum
  • First dibs on related events

Crunchy on the outside is your opportunity to tell us what you would like from the museum, share your ideas and to get involved. We’d love to hear your ideas so please get in touch using the CONTACT US page if there is something you’d like to see.

Crunchy on the outside is part of the HOPE for the Future project at Oxford University Museum of Natural History. The project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.