Those that received the annual newsletter will be aware of the sad passing of Tony Dobson at the end of October last year.
Tony will have been known to many as a prominent entomologist and lepidopterist and a great friend of the Insect Survey. He started volunteering with the RIS as far back as 1966 when he was approached by R.A. French to be an expert identifier for the trap at Slapton Ley NNR and also ran a trap at his school in Cullompton where he encouraged the school children (10 and 11 year olds) to identify the moths and carry out investigations into moth activity and weather. After gaining promotion and moving to Hampshire, Tony continued his association with the Survey identifying catches from Lordsfield, Stronchrubie, Ewingswode, Rosewarne, Broom’s Barn, Starcross, Writtle and London Zoo.
Tony in his natural habitat
Tony wrote his own obituary which I reproduce below.
ANTHONY HUGH DOBSON
Tony Dobson died on the 31st October 2013 aged 80 years, at home.
He was born on 4th December 1932 near Winchester, Hampshire. He showed an interest in Lepidoptera from 8 years old, encouraged by his mother, to keep him occupied and out of mischief. When 12 years old, he was fascinated by a live Tholera decimalis (Poda) and decided to study and collect moths for the rest of his life. During the war the family moved to Torquay. In early September 1951 he had a hunch that he would find a rare moth on ivy blossom on the Torquay coastline; on the 21st he found, on ivy blossom at Walls Hill, the third British specimen of Cyclophora puppillaria (Hb.).
During his two years of national service in the army, he spent ten months on active service in Kenya with the 1st Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. At Gilgil, when on duty clerk night duty, he would sleep in the C.O.’s room with lights on and the window open; early next morning he would arise, secure any interesting specimens, then gather the rest and release them outside before the C.O. returned. When on patrol, he always carried pill boxes as well as a rifle. A number of his butterflies and moths are in the foreign collection at the Natural History Museum, London.
After national service, he trained to be a teacher and taught in Primary Schools, where he organised natural history and insect study clubs. Through one of his pupils finding the second Devon specimen of Hippotion celerlo (Linn.), he appeared on Westward TV with it and other Hawk-moth specimens. In 1962, he found a colony of Lampropteryx otregiata (Metcalfe) in a damp wood on Haldon moor, Devon; he made a study of the wood, finding the moth’s ova and larvae in the wild for the first time. He was macrolepidoptera recorder for Devon from 1962 to 1971.
In 1971 he and his family moved to Hampshire. From 1975 to 1976 he spent a sabbatical year in Sheffield gaining a Teaching Diploma in Environmental Studies. For relaxation he was out in the woods or on the moors and obtained a few moth aberrations, now in the national collection. In 1979 he left mainstream Primary Education to become a warden of a field studies centre at Overton and then at Sparsholt College near Winchester. At both places he operated Rothamsted and M. V. traps, adding many records to the county list. He often took his Robinson M. V. trap to school grounds, so that children could study the contents next morning. At Clatford Primary school he found an aberration of Diachrysia chrysitis (Linn.), new to science and now in the national collection.
Returning to south Devon in 1990 for a holiday, he visited one of his old mothing haunts on the coast, where he found a colony of Hypena obsitalis (Hubn.) and in subsequent visits made a study of its habitats and life history, British Journal of Entomology & Natural History 8 (1995) pp 37-42. His wife Meriel often accompanied him on field meetings and referred to the 3 ‘M’s in his life – moths, maps and Meriel. He has always been a keen field-worker and interested in conservation. In 1989 a paper on Lepidoptera foodplant recording for conservation was published in the BENHS Journal, 2: pp 131-8. Since retiring in 1993 he has worked in Hampshire Wild Life Trust reserves, studying and recording Lepidoptera.
Throughout his life he has painted and in this youth played the piano and gained the A.L.C.M.