Libraries  |  24 Jun 2024

Christchurch’s Lily Duval is on a mission to raise awareness around our endangered creepy crawlies.

New Zealand’s landscape used to look very different, with predators now impacting our environmental ecosystem.

“And it’s not just our birdlife that’s being affected – it’s also our invertebrates and lizards,” says conservationist, author and illustrator Lily Duval.

With a degree in English and Religious Studies under her belt, Lily found herself spending most of her 20s bouncing around overseas, working on organic farms and even building a tiny home.

While overseas and homesick, she found company researching the news headlines at the time about native species under threat in New Zealand and began an art piece to keep her busy.

“I thought that most of our endangered species would be birds, but quickly realised there are a lot of invertebrates on the list,” Lily says.

“They felt like a blip that no one really engaged with, and got me thinking I could delve deeper and do my Masters on why no one cares about these animals.”

Lily was writing her thesis during the first Covid lockdown and painted an ‘ABC’ poster of the insects of Aotearoa as a distraction.

In 2023, she illustrated Critters of Aotearoa: 50 Bizarre but Lovable Members of our Wildlife Community, by Nicola Toki, which was chosen as a Storylines Notable Book 2023.

This year, Lily turned her thesis exploring cultural entomology into a book called Six-legged Ghosts, examining the art, language, stories and science of insects around the world.

Lily now writes and illustrates for a range of conservation organisations and has been a researcher and writer for RNZ’s ‘Critter of the Week’ show since 2021.

“I’m driven by conservation – I want to do work within conservation for the rest of my life,” Lily says.

Join Lily in conversation with Entomologist and Science Communicator Dr Morgane Merien from Canterbury Museum at Tūranga this week for a candid discussion about the place of insects in history, art, culture and language.

The Tūranga session will take place on Wednesday 26 June from 5 – 6.30pm. Entry is free, bookings are required.