William George Howes (1879–1946).
Born at Southbridge, Canterbury, in December, 1879, William George Howes died at Dunedin on 20th February, 1946. He was the youngest of a family of five, and the only one born in New Zealand. The others, with their parents, had come from England, where they had lived near Cambridge. Our late friend's father, William Howes, an accountant by profession, was of a genial and kindly nature, fortunately inherited by his son.
Howes was still a boy when his family moved from Southbridge to Ashburton, and there he finished his schooling. Whilst in the sixth and seventh standards, he captained the football, hockey and cricket teams of his school; and, in a display of the pupils' craftsmanship, he secured first prize for his collection of insects. This collection was set up in cardboard boxes with glass tops, and, being without cork, Howes ingeniously used the pith from Phormium flower stalks as a substitute. His only guide was a small taxidermists' manual which he faithfully followed, pinning the insects alive and bracing them down, still struggling, on rough setting boards. The result was not always symmetrical. Later on he learned a slightly better method from W. W. Smith.
On leaving school, Howes settled with his family in Invercargill, where he commenced his professional career as an office boy in the Bank of New Zealand. However, to his way of thinking, the prospects were not bright, so he found for himself a position with the New Zealand Pine Company, and within two years, at the age of 18 (1897), he was appointed traveller. His district ranged from Invercargill to Christchurch and included Central Otago. This gave him an excellent opportunity to see and know the country. He liked the life, and spent the weekends collecting insects in the company of fellow enthusiasts; his favourite haunts were Central Otago and the forests of Southland. He held this position of traveller for several years, when he decided to branch out for himself.
By 1909 Howes had established a business in Dunedin and dealt with timber supplies apart from the output from his own mill. By that time his entomological activities had attracted the attention of T. W. Kirk, Government Biologist, and an entomological post was offered him. In this Howes saw the door opening upon his greatest ambition. Against all advice, he handed most of his business to his brother, abandoned the remainder, and went to Wellington on a six months' trial as entomologist. The engagement, however, unfortunately was brief; a period was put to it by one of those waves of retrenchment so favoured in times of depression. Howes returned to Dunedin and set about working up a new business. This venture thrived for some years, only to fall under the world slump of 1931. This was really a great disappointment to Howes, who had within his grasp the consummation of his one aim—to retire and devote his attention solely to entomology. Nothing daunted, he commenced once
more, but the fates were against him; in the inauguration of the present economic conditions he saw the writing on the wall, depending so much, as he did, on his English agencies.
For over thirty years Howes was an active member of the Dunedin Naturalists' Field Club; he was a past President of the Otago Institute, and a member of the Council of the Otago Acclimatisation Society for twenty years, being elected a life member on retiring; he served on the Committee for Fresh-water Research, was a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London, Fellow of the Linnean Society, and a Fellow of the American Entomological Society.
Howes was essentially a Lepidopterist, though he by no means neglected other orders; most of the latter material he presented to specialists. During his life he had built up several extensive collections of Lepidoptera, and at the time of his death was bringing together one with every specimen as perfect and as perfectly set as possible. About three years ago, this collection, which has been left to the Dominion Museum, contained some 2,000 specimens of Macro-Lepidoptera and a good foundation of the micros. He published several papers on the Order.
George Howes ever encouraged the beginner, not merely by advice, but also in supplying those in need with material. He possessed a spirit that never failed him; and in his associations with other entomologists, professional and amateur, his enthusiasm and kindly nature inspired him to a generous open-handedness untrammelled by that shibboleth—Kudos!
List of Publications.
Howes, G., and Smith, W. W. 1898. Notes on Sphaeria larvarum Westw. Entomologist, 31, 128–130.
Howes, William George. 1901. On the Occurrence of Metacrias strategica at Invercargill. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 33, 188–190.
—— 1906. Note on the Occurrence of Two Rare and Two Introduced Moths. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 38, 509.
—— 1906. Some New Species of Lepidoptera. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 38, 510–511.
—— 1908. Further Notes on Lepidoptera. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 40, 533–534.
—— 1911. New Species of Lepidoptera. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 43, 127–128.
—— 1911. Notes on the Vegetable Caterpillar. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 43, 100.
—— 1912. New Species of Lepidoptera, and Notes on Larvae and Pupae of New Zealand Butterflies. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 44, 203–208.
—— 1914. New Lepidoptera. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 46, 95–96.
—— 1914. Notes on the Life-history of Some New Zealand Moths. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 46, 97–98.
—— 1914. Notes on the Entomology of Stewart Island. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 46, 98–100.
—— 1917. New Lepidoptera. Trans. N.Z. Inst., 49, 274.
—— 1942. New Lepidoptera. Trans. Roy. Soc. N.Z., 71, 277–278.
—— 1943. Description of Two New Species of Lepidoptera. Trans. Roy. Soc. N.Z., 72, 371–372.
—— 1943. Lepidoptera Collecting at the Homer. With Descriptions of Two New Species. Trans. Roy. Soc. N.Z., 73, 90–96.