2015

The Dodd Collection

Queensland Museum

This exhibition showcases our spectacular and historic F.P. & A.P. Dodd Collection of Tropical Insects from Australia and New Guinea. The Queensland Museum holds 42 beautifully-arranged showcases made by F.P. and A.P. Dodd and their family from 1917 through to the 1960s.

Introduction by Geoff Monteith.
In 1884 Frederick Parkhurst Dodd was a 23 year old bank clerk who, after being unwillingly transferred from Victoria to Townsville in remote, tropical Queensland, took up butterfly collecting, and soon became so engrossed in natural history that he left the bank in 1895, determined to make an independent living from insects. Based first in Brisbane, he began to collect and supply insect specimens to museums and wealthy private collectors overseas. Seeking tropical rarities he moved back to Townsville in 1899, despatching tens of thousands of specimens used for research and study of North Queensland’s exciting insect fauna. Many species were named in his honour. His own papers appeared in the learned journals of Europe.

This case contains specimens of Australia’s most magnificent beetle, Mueller’s Stag Beetle, (Phalacrognathus muelleri). It is restricted to the rainforests of the Cairns region where it breeds in rotten logs. Note the great variation in length of jaws.

The meticulous arrangement of the specimens aided comparison and identification of insect species.

It also created an opportunity to create a stunning display which attracted audiences.

Moving to Kuranda 
In 1903 a violent cyclone devastated his house in Townsville. Dodd and his growing family moved to Kuranda in the heart of the rich and unexplored rainforests of the Cairns region. From there he made lengthy expeditions to Darwin and New Guinea to fill his clients’ requests. As Kuranda became a popular tourist destination he developed a show collection of spectacular insects in his home and charged admission. These striking display cases gave vent to his appreciation of the beauty of the insects. In 1918 and 1923 he toured the show collection to the southern states, renting halls to display his wonders to the Australian public. He became nationally known as “The Butterfly Man of Kuranda”.

The pastel pink, green and blue species in this large case are rare ghost moths of the genus Aenetus.

The centre specimen is the Giant Fruit-sucking Moth, (Phyllodes imperialis). Muted, pastel shades of nocturnal moths appealed to F.P. Dodd. They contrast with the garish colours of many butterflies

A Brilliant Family
 All six children of F.P. Dodd were steeped in insect lore from an early age and played a vital role in the family’s insect enterprises. Alan Parkhurst, the third son, went on to a brilliant career as a professional entomologist. Well schooled in insects by his father, he was appointed Assistant Entomologist with the Sugar Bureau in nearby Gordonvale at age 16. Before turning 19 he had published 12 papers totalling 218 pages in learned scientific journals of Australia and Europe.

An Alan Dodd case of larger New Guinea jezebel butterflies. The large yellow species (Delias aruna) also occurs in Cape York Peninsula and is unusual in having a coloured upperside.

Order of The British Empire
In 1921 Alan Dodd was appointed to seek a solution to the growing scourge of prickly pear, then the worst plant pest in the world covering millions of hectares of prime Queensland farmland. In 1924 he went to South America and brought back the Cactoblastis moth. When released in Australia it consumed the prickly pear menace and within five years settlers were able to return to their abandoned farms. Alan received both Member of the British Empire and Order of the British Empire for his achievements

The Ulysses Butterfly, (Papilio ulysses). Most are males but the central one and two others are females. Females have blue flecks in the dark border of their hind wings which the males do not share.

The Grand Parade
This case has been named “The Grand Parade” because of its resemblance to the concentric circles of stud livestock arranged in the centre ring of big agricultural shows in Australia. It features many species of Christmas beetles, flower chafers and stag beetles.
The Golden Shield 
The central disc of “The Golden Shield” case comprises 1350 specimens of Anoplognathus punctulatus, one of the scarab beetles which became a minor pest of sugar cane in North Queensland. Children were once paid a bounty to catch and kill them.
Poetic Nature
F.P. Dodd painstakingly spelled out this verse from Longfellow in tiny moths prior to his first tour in 1918. “SHE” is Mother Nature, and by this quotation Dodd indicated the personal strength and inspiration he continually derived from his insect studies.

SHE would sing...

And whenever the way seemed long
Or his heart began to fail
SHE would sing a more wonderful song
Or tell a more marvelous tale.
- Longfellow

Queensland Museum
Credits: Story


Technical notes by Geoff Thompson, Queensland Museum Collection Imager.

All these photographs are taken with a Hasselblad H4D-200-MS camera with a 120mm Macro lens. They are taken in 200 megapixel, six-shot mode.
The camera fires the studio flash units seven times, once to establish the shot and then six times, each time moving the sensor 1 pixel in four directions. This means that each colour is actually sensed by a red, blue and yellow pixel sensor. Normal digital cameras have a defined, even scattering of colour pixel sensors and interpolate the probable intervening colours. The Hasselblad then moves the sensor diagonally up and down to sense detail in the green spectrum that would normally fall between the pixels. The resultant image is then built within the camera, producing a 1.2 gigabyte camera RAW fff file.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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