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BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS - COLOUR, MIMICRY, CAMOUFLAGE

 

THE WEBSITE OF PROF. PHILIP HOWSE, OBE, PhD, FRE

BOOK AWARDS

"GIANT SILKMOTHS, Colour, Mimicry & Camouflage": a book on the giant silk moths illustrated with the stunning images of Kirby Wolfe  has been awarded a Bronze Medal in the IPPY book Awards, New York 2012, in the Environment Ecology, and Nature section.

"BUTTERFLIES, Messages from Psyche"   was also awarded a Bronze Medal in the IPPY book Awards, New York 2011, in the Environment Ecology, and Nature section.

 

 

"Giant Silkmoths" with co-author Kirby Wolfe was published by Papadakis in November 2011 and released in North America in spring 2012.

in November

 

 "Butterflies:Messages from Psyche "  was published by Papadakis (London) on May 25th 2010, and by Firefly in the USA under the title "Butterflies: Decoding Their Signs & Symbols" in North America on Aug. 1st 2010. 

 

Reviews on these books can be seen on the Publisher's website: www.papadakis.net, and on Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.com

 

 In  "Butterflies"   I put forward theories to explain hiow the wing patterns on the wings of butterflies and moths have evolved.  Images of dangerous or poisonous animals are commonly found embedded in the wing patterns: snakes, owl eyes, bird beaks and heads, spiders, wasps, toads, salamanders, claws, canine teeth, bird plumage etc.  It is suggested that these details are detected by insectivorous predatRors wuch as birds and reptiles because they process visual images in different ways from humans.  We see the big picture first, they see the detail first. Insectivores that see these simple "iconic" images are likely to be momentarily confused or shocked, as we are when we encounter surrealist art or advertisements with familliar objects in unfamilliar contexts. This gives vital time (perhaps only fractions of a second) in which the insect prey can react or escape

 

Previous theories to explain wing patterns and colours in Lepidoptera are based upon sexual selection (Darwin), mimicry of wing patterns of unpalatable butterflies and moths (Batesian & Muellerian mimicry) and have not  taken into account the possibility of mimicry of predatory animals.

 

This book is profusely illustrated, including many images provided by Clive Farrell from the collections of the Stratford Butterfly Farm and Butterfly World.  Stunning images of Saturniid moths have been supplied by Kirby Wolfe (more can be seen on his website).  More of Kirby's images will be published in a book I am working on with him which will be published in 2011 by Papadakis

REVIEWS and REVIEW ARTICLES on  "BUTTERFLIES"

 

Lynn Fomison, Butterfly Conservation, Butterfly Magazine (review)

 

"...riveting    ....difficult to put down..   ....extremely stimulating..."

 

Michael McCarthy, The Independent:(review article)

 

"He [Howse] is onto something new and remarkable... it's the most fascinating butterfly book I've ever read."

 

Simon Barnes, The Times (Review atrticle)

 

"..the most visually exciting book of the year..... Howse has put together a brilliant treat: a piece of work that is designed to dazzle and boggle and bewilder"

 

Richard Gray, Sunday Telegraph (Review article)

 

"The dazzling colours and patterns on their wings make butterflies and moths some of the most eye-catching creatures in the animal kingdom, but a new book suggests these dramatic designs also help turn the insects into master illusionists."

 

Nigel Williams, Current Biology (Feature article)

 

A new book highlights the range of patterns evolved as a defence mechanism by butterflies that resemble aspects ofother organisms. .... With the decline of so many species....the role of such observers is of growing importance.

 

Antenna (Royal Entomological Society Journal)

 

"Messages from Psyche" is fascinatingg, enthralling.....we are taken on an odessey of epic proportions

For anyone with an interest in insect5 communiucation or the role of entomology in our wider society, Philip Howse's book is not to be missed

 

Dorset Magazine

 

Phillip's code-breaking of a butterfly's wing is utterly brilliant

 

Resurgence Magazine

 

A gem...This is a beautiful and intelligent work

 

 

Unsolicited comments from journalists and others:

 

"I thought it was absolutely stunning, fascinating and profound. What a wonderful piece of work."

(Science writer)

 

"your book is truly beautiful" (Science writer)

 

"Thankyou from the bottom of my heart for writing such a wonderful book" (Delighted reader)

 

"We think your book is absolutely incrediible and has given us a new way of looking at not only nature but the human condition"   (Ivan Hicks)

 

"a wonderful book which has given me great pleasure... the kind of book that lifts the spirit of the reader"    (E.Burke, Amazon customer review)

 

BIOGRAPHY - Aprofile was published in the January issue (2011) of Dorset Life Magazine and can be found on the internet under the title "The Polymoth"  Another article on this book was published in Dorset Magazine, November 2011

 

I studied Zoology at Kings College, London and completed a Ph.D there and at Queen Mary College.

I then had a 2 year Fellowship in the University of Berne continuing my Ph.D research on termite behaviour.  As an Assistant Lecturer at University College Cardiff (1964-7) I published "Termites; a Study in Social Behaviour" (Hutchinson).

 

On moving to Southampton University I began research on the chemical ecology of ants and termites. This led to new possibilities of insect pest control (of leaf-cutting ants in particular), and to the formation of the Wolfson Unit of Chemical Entomology in partnership with Prof. Ray Baker and Dr David Evans of the Chemistry Department.

 

I made many visits overseas to set up collaborative projects and to give courses organised by the Britsh Council in Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, the USA, Malaysia, India and Nigeria. The projects were concerned with the use of pheromones in pest control, and my work extended to medfly and other fruit flies of economic importance, and to Lepidoptera.  "Pheromones and their Use in Pest Managment" with co-authors Owen Jones and Ian Stevens, wasoriginally  published by Chapman & Hall in 1993 and is now available in a Spanish edition.

 

New pest control technology

  I formed the Bioelectrostatics Research Unit in 1990 Wiith Prof John Hugthes of the Electrical Engineering Dept.of Southampton University. I developed some novel technology for use in environmentally-friendly pest control that involved the use of electrostatic powders.  One use was in cockroach traps, and I received a Prince of Wales award for Innovation for this.  Subsequently Southampton University set up a spin-off company, Exosect Ltd (www.exosect.com), to exploit a number of patents I had filed with the University on the use of this technology.  I became the first Technology Director of this company in 2000, and the company, with its "green" technology, is now beginning to enjoy success.  In 2000 I was awarded the OBE for contributions to pest control.

 

This technology enables the management of insect pests of horticulture and agriculture without the use of synthetic pesticides.  It  is targetted on individual species and can therefore be a valuable tool in sustainable agriculture and in conservation.  In October 2010 Exosect was chosen by Real Business Magazine as one of the 10 UK companies "most likely to change your life"  and was one of only three agricultural companies in the Guardian's CleanTech 100 list, selected from over 4000 nominations world-wide.

 

                                                                    ------------

On retirement I am living in rural Dorset and have returned to my boyhood passion for butterflies and moths. 

GIANT SILKMOTHS, Colour, Mimicry & Camouflage: a book on the giant silk moths illustrated with the stunning images of Kirby Wolfe (with a Foreword by Prof Sir Ghillian Prance FRS)  Published Nov 2011

The giant silkmoths (Saturniidae) include some of the most beautiful moths in the world - the moon, emperor, Atlas, and Royal moths.

Reviewers' Comments:

... what must surely be the loveliest picture-book of the year,, on wildlife or any other subject... this is a book to boggle at.

Simon Barnes, The Times 3.12.2011

This book promises to become an instant classic.... if you buy this book I guarantee that you will be glad that you did

R.Peigler, Journal of the Lepidopterests Soc. March 2012

..brimming with anecdote and poetic charm.  Howse takes us on an evolutionary tour through the striking and bizarre patterns presented by these beautifuk creatures.

Richard Jones, BBC Wildlife Mag. Feb. 2012

 

 

For publication in 2014

 

Seeing Butterflies planned for publication by Papadakis in 2014 in association with the Roral Entomological Society , a guide to the behaviour, mimicry, evolution etc of butterflies and moths you are most likely to see in butterfly houses and in the countryside in Britain.  This will examine more closely some of the evolutionary questions posed by the hypotheses of 'Messages from Psyche'

Bee Tiger: The death's head hawk-moth as perceived in folklore, literature, poetry and science, and by birds, bats and bees. (Little Toller Books)

 

TALKS

 

I am happy to give  well-illustrated talks on the following topics:

 

The natural and unnatural history  of the death's head hawk moth

The use of skull symbols in art. The role of the moth in "The Silence of the Lambs". The explanation for the evolution of the skull marking  on the moth

The road from Xanadu: tthe 6000 year history of silk

How moths changed the wealth and destiny of nations

Art, illusion and  wing patterns of butterflies and moths

How we perceive the visual world.  Visual illusions.  The visual world of animals is very different from ours and insectivores see images in the wings of butterflies and moths that we cannot see unless we really look.

 The Ring of Minos and the bee goddess.

This gold ring from the Minoan palace of Knossos (1500 BC)was rediscovered only recentlly. The fine etchings on the ring appear to portray a complex allegory of death and regeneration involving bees and a bee goddess. The same figures appear in other gold rings from Crete and Mycenae, and shed new light on the spiritual beliefs of the Minoans

Pitcher plants and pest control

How a study of insect-eating pitcher plants gave rise to a new environmentally-friendly method of controlling insect pests.

Insects in archaeology

Insects as symbols and totems in ancient civilizations. The Aztec butterfly goddesses

Saturn's moths

The images embedded in the wing patterns of the  magnificent giant silk moths of the tropis and semitropics include owl eyes, snake heads, bird beaks, bird wings outlines and many other features.

These are believed to protect the moths against predators.

The passion-vine butterflies of the Amazon

The facinating ecology of these butterflies and the evolutionary arms race between them and the vines on swhich they feed

Bird-wing and blue morpho and owl butterflies

These tropical butterflies are often found in butterfly houses.  A look at their ecology and behavioour, and at how their beautiful colours are generated

The red admiral, the goldfinch and the zebra catrerpillar

An examination of the symbology of birds and butterflies and the unexpected connection between this trio.ifi

An entomologist in the tropics and sub-tropics

An account ot travels and research in  Brazil, West Africa, the Caribbean and Mexico

TRANSLATION SERVICES

 

Translations of scientific documents, including those concerned with biology and agriculture, into English from the following languages:

Spanish

Portuguese

French

German

Italian

 

Contact: philipehowse@gmail.com.

 

Blog: www.butterflyicons.howsepe.co.uk

BIOGRAPHY - Aprofile was published in the January issue (2011) of Dorset Life Magazine and can be found on the internet under the title "The Polymoth"  Another article on this book was published in Dorset Magazine, November 2011

 

I studied Zoology at Kings College, London and completed a Ph.D there and at Queen Mary College.

I then had a 2 year Fellowship in the University of Berne continuing my Ph.D research on termite behaviour.  As an Assistant Lecturer at University College Cardiff (1964-7) I published "Termites; a Study in Social Behaviour" (Hutchinson).

 

On moving to Southampton University I began research on the chemical ecology of ants and termites. This led to new possibilities of insect pest control (of leaf-cutting ants in particular), and to the formation of the Wolfson Unit of Chemical Entomology in partnership with Prof. Ray Baker and Dr David Evans of the Chemistry Department.

 

I made many visits overseas to set up collaborative projects and to give courses organised by the Britsh Council in Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, the USA, Malaysia, India and Nigeria. The projects were concerned with the use of pheromones in pest control, and my work extended to medfly and other fruit flies of economic importance, and to Lepidoptera.  "Pheromones and their Use in Pest Managment" with co-authors Owen Jones and Ian Stevens, wasoriginally  published by Chapman & Hall in 1993 and is now available in a Spanish edition.

 

New pest control technology

  I formed the Bioelectrostatics Research Unit in 1990 Wiith Prof John Hugthes of the Electrical Engineering Dept.of Southampton University. I developed some novel technology for use in environmentally-friendly pest control that involved the use of electrostatic powders.  One use was in cockroach traps, and I received a Prince of Wales award for Innovation for this.  Subsequently Southampton University set up a spin-off company, Exosect Ltd (www.exosect.com), to exploit a number of patents I had filed with the University on the use of this technology.  I became the first Technology Director of this company in 2000, and the company, with its "green" technology, is now beginning to enjoy success.  In 2000 I was awarded the OBE for contributions to pest control.

 

This technology enables the management of insect pests of horticulture and agriculture without the use of synthetic pesticides.  It  is targetted on individual species and can therefore be a valuable tool in sustainable agriculture and in conservation.  In October 2010 Exosect was chosen by Real Business Magazine as one of the 10 UK companies "most likely to change your life"  and was one of only three agricultural companies in the Guardian's CleanTech 100 list, selected from over 4000 nominations world-wide.

 

                                                                    ------------

On retirement I am living in rural Dorset and have returned to my boyhood passion for butterflies and moths.