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Case of Six-spotted Burnet moths. They have black bodies, their top wings are black/grey with red spots and their lower wings are red/pink (the same colour as the spots) and the edges are black/grey.

On Friday I took a trip to Edinburgh to a behind the scenes tour at the National Museums Collection Centre, Granton. This was one of the events scheduled to celebrate Insect Week a national event organised by the Royal Entomological Society.

I chose to travel by train, there’s lots of talk about Low Emission Zones (LEZ), now throughout Scotland’s major cities – they are certainly doing their job of dissuading travel by car! Instead of driving to Kirkcaldy I was able to depart from Leven on the new railway line for the first time. It was very interesting to see completely different views of the local landscape. I was particularly taken with the views of rivers, the line follows the River Leven to the sea and also goes close by the River Ore to the west of Cameron Bridge. The route of the railway line is marked in orange.

Extract from a map showing the route of the new Leven railway line (in orange) and how it closely follows the River Leven, central to the image is Cameron Bridge.

When I got to the Rail Bridge the view across the Forth to Arthur’s Seat was spectacular, the only blot being the hulking multi-storey passenger liner anchored there.

Image take from a train going across the Forth Rail Bridge of a luxury passenger ship anchored in the River Forth.
Sign outside the National Museum of Scotland Collection Centre indicating that it is a 'Biodiversity Development Area', symbols in white circles represent plants, amphibians (a frog), insects (a ladybird), fungi and a bird.

Arriving at the Collections Centre in Granton the influence of the Entomology department was front and foremost. Before we walked to the store we deposited our bags and coats in the reception building incase we carried any beasties in with us, which might infiltrate and damage the historical collection.

Curator Ashleigh Whiffin had looked out many cases of moths, butterflies, beetles, bees and wasps, as well as original drawings, prints and notebooks from the archives. The insects were from all over the world with some specimens around two hundred years old. It was really interesting to learn about how collecting policy has evolved over the years and the reasons for keeping historical specimens – one of these is to see the effect of how habitat can change the morphology of species.

Selection of Stag Beetles held in place with pins in a museum case.
Close up of a case of Stag Beetles, the largest beetle in the UK
Case of Six-spotted Burnet moths. They have black bodies, their top wings are black/grey with red spots and their lower wings are red/pink (the same colour as the spots) and the edges are black/grey.
Display of Six-spot Burnet moths

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