This week’s What’s on the van? comes from Amo Spooner, of the Museum’s Hope Entomological Collections.
Reverend Frederick William Hope (1797- 1862) was a British entomologist whose interest in insects began in 1817 and his main passion was for beetles. He founded the Museum’s Hope Entomological Collection and in 1849 gave his entire invertebrate collection, along with his substantial library and collection of portraits and engravings to Oxford University.
Hope’s fascination with beetles seemed mainly focused on the large, shiny ones! One of his particular favourites was the Lucanidae, commonly known as Stag beetles. This specimen is Lamprima schreibersi, found by Hope in 1845. This is the only specimen housed in the HEC. It is a type specimen; these are the most important specimens within a collection, because they are the ‘original’ specimen to which all others are compared. In the original description they are usually designated to an entomological collection within a museum, this allows them to be kept safe and be accessible to researchers.
Larvae of stag beetles feed on rotten wood; they become adult once they have finished their three larval stages. The adults feed on tree sap and rotten fruit. Lamprima schreibersi is an Australia species, so it is likely that they would feed on Eucalyptus trees. However, limited research has been done into the behaviour of this species, so no conclusive information can be given.