Browse Entries

Biographical entry Common, Ian Francis Bell (1917 - 2006)


23 June 1917
Alford, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
3 June 2006


Ian Common was one of Australia's principal entomologists who exerted a major influence of studies of butterflies throughout the world. His research has included studies on lepidopteran cereal and pasture pests, the migration of the Bogong Moth, and the taxonomy and higher classification of Lepidoptera. He published descriptions of two new families, Carthaeidae and Lophocoronidae. Among his publications was the internationally significant Moths of Australia (1990) for which he received the Whitley Medal from the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales. With Doug Waterhouse he published Butterflies of Australia (1972, rev. ed. 1981)which was well received by butterfly enthusiasts. Common helped develop techniques and protocols for staining and mounting moth wings to study venation. With Murray Upton he devised light traps which facilitated the collection of good quality fragile moth specimens. Common was Chief Curator of the Australian National Insect Collection from 1977 to 1979, a period noted for the expansion of the collections, high curatorial standards, and well organised and successful field collecting trips. He was an active member and office-bearer of Australian and international entomological societies. The genus Commonia was named in his honour.



1938 - ?
Career position - Member, Entomological Society of Queensland
1939 - 1940
Career position - Secretary, Entomological Society of Queensland
Education - BA, University of Queensland
1944 - 1948
Career position - Research Officer, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock
Career position - Research officer, CSIR Division of Economic Entomology
Education - BAgSc, University of Queensland
Education - MA, University of Queensland
1948 - c. 1951
Career position - Technical Secretary to Chief, CSIRO Division of Economic Entomology
1949 - ?
Career position - Member, Entomological Society
c. 1951 - 1974
Career position - Research scientist, CSIRO Division of Entomology
Education - MAgSc, University of Queensland
1956 - ?
Career position - Member, Linnean Society of New South Wales
Career position - Vice-President, Entomological Society
Career position - Founding Member, Australian Entomological Society
Career position - Vice-President, Entomological Society
1966 - 2006
Career position - Fellow, Royal Entomological Society
Award - DAgSc, University of Queensland
1969 - 1972
Career position - Vice-President, Australian Entomological Society
1974 - 1982
Career position - Chief Research Scientist, CSIRO Division of Entomology
1977 - 1979
Career position - Chief Curator, Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO Division of Entomology
1978 - 1979
Career position - President, Lepidopterists' Society
1980 - 1981
Career position - President, Australian Entomological Society
Award - Honorary Member, Sociedad Hispano-Luso-Americano de Lepidopterologia
Life event - Retired
1982 - 2003
Career position - Honorary Fellow, CSIRO Division of Entomology
1982 - 2006
Award - Honorary Member, Australian Entomological Society
Award - Whitley Medal, Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales
Award - Karl Jordan Medal, Lepidopterists Society
Award - Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for service to entomology, particularly the study of Lepidoptera insect pests, their effects on agriculture and the development of adequate controls, and to community education through the publication of books dealing with insects and their role in the environment
Award - Jacob Hübner Award for Lepidoptera Systematics, Association for Tropical Biology
2003 - 2006
Career position - Emeritus Fellow, CSIRO Division of Entomology

Related Corporate Bodies

Published resources

Book Sections

  • Common, I. F. B., 'Landmarks in the taxonomy of Lepidoptera' in Australian systematic entomology: a bicentenary perspective, Highley, E. and Taylor, R. W., eds (Collingwood, Vic.: CSIRO, 1983), pp. 20-33. Details

Journal Articles

  • Edwards, E. D. (Ted), 'Ian Francis Bell Common (23 June 1917 to 3 June 2006)', Journal of the Lepidopterists Society, 62 (2) (2008), 111-3. Details


See also

  • Upton, M. S., A Rich and Diverse Fauna: the history of the Australian National Insect Collection 1926 - 1991 (Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing, 1997), 386 pp. Details

Helen Cohn