MABA Annual Events
The inaugural MABA annual event was held at CSIRO Black Mountain Library and the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG), Canberra, ACT, Australia, over the weekend 3–5 November 2023. Six different activities were held over the weekend, which were attended by a total of 61 members and friends. It was wonderful to have six international members from New Zealand, USA and Europe attend the event, highlighting the fact that MABA is now truly an international organisation.
The event kicked off with a social function and dinner on Friday night at the Black Mountain Library at which guests were welcomed by Axel Kallies (our new President), Doug Hilton (former inaugural President of MABA and now Chief Executive of CSIRO), David Yeates (Director of the Australian National Insect Collection), and Anne-Marie Slattery (Metadata and Discovery Librarian at CSIRO). Federica Turco (Collection Manager of ANIC) gave a short presentation on progress and developments with the new ANIC building, which is expected to be completed by early 2024. Michael Braby then talked about the scientific art exhibition on display based on art works curated in the rare book collection of the library that are not normally viewed by the public. The display included a series of superb original water colour paintings by several notable artists, including Neville Cayley, published in Waterhouse (1932) What Butterfly is That?; George Browning, published in Barrett and Burns (1951) Butterflies of Australia and New Guinea; Ninon Geier, published in Common and Waterhouse (1972) Butterflies of Australia; Sybil Monteith, published in the revised edition of Common and Waterhouse (1981); and Frank Nanninga, published in CSIRO (1970) The Insects of Australia.
Following dinner, about half of the group headed off to the ANBG to observe, photograph or collect moths at several light traps that were set up by Donald Hobern, Glenn Cocking and Andreas Zwick at the western end of the gardens near Black Mountain Reserve. A range of different light-traps were set up to showcase the methods commonly used to study and sample moths. It was a good night for moths and many species were recorded.
The highlight of the event was undoubtedly the 20 talks presented by members at the ANBG Theatrette on Saturday. The opening keynote address was delivered by Professor David Lohman (Chair of Biology, City College of New York, USA) who literally blew the roof off with a stimulating and entertaining talk entitled “biogeography and evolution of Indo-Australian butterflies” that covered an array of fascinating topics in relation to past climate changes in SE Asia and mainland New Guinea, including diversification of Delias – reputed to be the largest butterfly genus in the world – and the astonishing mimicry seen in Elymnias. He also touched on wolbachia in Melanitis. Three student members (Georgina Binns, Siwanon Paphatmethin, Ethan Beaver) gave outstanding talks on their PhD projects, and all jointly won the inaugural Ted Edwards Memorial Award for the best student presentation. Georgina Binns (and Chris Müller) also won the free dinner prize for guessing the correct number of eggs and/or species in a photo, which comprised a single cohort of 170 eggs of the pierid butterfly Delias harpalyce. Marianne Horak closed the day with a moving and fitting tribute to Ted Edwards, who touched the lives of so many of us. Lynette Aitchison kindly managed the large number of books on butterflies and moths for sale, and even sold several books to passers-by! The Annual General Meeting was held at the Theatrette on Saturday afternoon, and ‘conference’ dinner was held at the China Tea Club in North Lyneham.
The butterfly and larval host plant identification tour at the ANBG was run by Suzi Bond and Steve Holliday on the following Sunday morning. The activity was well attended, but the poor weather precluded seeing the many species that typically fly at this time of the year, and the only highlights were a nectaring Graphium macleayanum and a clump of mistletoe on which the immature stages of Delias harpalyce were found. The moth workshop, run by Axel Kallies, was held in Banksia Building at ANBG during Sunday afternoon. The workshop focussed on relaxing and preparing specimens (collected from the light traps) and how to properly pin and set them in order to establish a scientific reference collection. Participants worked with either macro or micromoths. It was interesting to hear all the different methods used by the various experts.
ANIC Moth Workshops
The 10th ANIC Moth Meeting was held in Canberra 5-6 February 2022. Although only a small group attended due to COVID-19, it was a great pleasure to see old friends again. The Lepidoptera collection in the ANIC hall came alive with a group of knowledgeable and excited Lepidoptera fans. You Ning Su excelled himself with the group picture in which everybody is duly identified.
Write ups about previous ANIC Moth Weekends can be viewed on this page.