Brian O. C. Gardiner
1923 - 2014
Societies such as ours depend for their survival very heavily on the enthusiastic voluntary work of a few dedicated members. The AES is no exception and over the course of our history we have been most fortunate in enjoying the support of many talented and capable volunteers. One such individual is Brian Gardiner who joined the AES in 1939 and has the membership number 225.
Brian Oliver Cordery Gardiner was born in 1923 at Ealing in North London. His family moved to Dover in Kent when Brian was one year old and his interest in entomology was aroused at an early age on seeing large numbers of caterpillars in the hedgerows on his walks to and from school. Brian also recalls vast numbers of butterflies flying along the railway embankment at the bottom of his garden so many that he only had to lean over the fence and wait for them to fly into his outstretched butterfly net. Brian's further education was completed at Uppingham School where he enjoyed access to the school's extensive Lepidoptera collection, and at St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical school where he studied anatomy and physiology. gaining an MB.
For nearly forty years Brian worked for the Agricultural Research Council. At first he worked under Professor Sir Vincent Wigglesworth, FRS, and the last sixteen years with Dr John Treherne's Unit of Invertebrate Chemistry and Physiology situated in the Department of Zoology, Cambridge University.
Brian always enjoyed breeding Lepidoptera. He once supplied 5,000 cinnabar moth pupae to The Butterfly Farm at Bexley needed 60,000 pupae for the New Zealand Government, in an effort to control the rampant spread of ragwort that was ruining vast tracts of valuable grazing land. He was best known, however, for his breeding of the Large White butterfly, which was required in various stages for research work and educational purposes; being supplied to schools nationwide as part of the Nuffield Biology Project. Brian bred many hundreds of thousands of the Large Whites in specially constructed breeding cages in his garden at Cambridge to satisfy a widespread demand.
One of his more memorable orders was from a company in the USA to whom he supplied 50,000 imagines (adults) preserved in spirit, but perhaps his most unusual request was to supply 3,000 Large White butterflies for release at a Rolling Stones concert at Hyde Park, London in 1969. Brian satisfied this request and clearly recalls being situated beneath the stage awaiting his cue to release the butterflies from their cages.
As previously mentioned, Brian joined the AES in 1939 and soon became a regular contributor of articles to the Bulletin. He then became assistant editor to Beowulf Cooper in 1946 until 1949. He took over editorship of the Bulletin in 1974 a task he cheerfully and efficiently undertook for a full twenty years. It was fitting that in recognition of his great contribution to the AES, Brian was elected President of our Society for the year 1977/1978 and in 1982 was elected an Honorary Life Member for his service to our Society over so many years. The Society has also named an award after Brian. It is for the best article by a Bug Club member to appear in the Bug Club Magazine.
In addition to the numerous articles produced for our Bulletin. Brian also completely revised The Silkmoth Rearer's Handbook in 1982. He has been the author or joint author of over 400 papers mostly on the Lepidoptera but also on the physiology of the bloodsucking bug Rhodnius prolixus when he was in the Department of Zoology at Cambridge. Also for 15 years, he was an associate editor for The Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera and in 1989 took over the editorship of The Entomologist for the Royal Entomological Society. Despite all these time consuming duties Brian still found time to build up a very fine library of entomological books and periodicals.