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William Miles Maskell (5 October 18391 May 1898) was a New Zealandmarker farmer and entomologist. Born in Mapperton, Dorsetmarker, Englandmarker to Mary Scott and William Maskell, an Anglican clergyman, he attended school at St Mary's College in Oscott, Birmingham, and later in Parismarker, before being commissioned an ensign in the 11th Regiment of Foot with which he served for just under two years. He first came to New Zealand, in Lyttelton, in 1860 and eventually became involved in the political campaigns of Frederick Weld and Charles Clifford. He returned to England sometime between 1861 and 1863, but returned by September 1865, purchasing a property in Broadleaze near Leithfieldmarker, Canterbury a short while after.

In 1866, Maskell was elected to represent Sefton on the Canterbury Provincial Council, a position which he held until the the provinces were abolished in 1876. He also served as provincial secretary and treasurer during the last year on the Council.

He became registrar of the newly-formed University of New Zealand in 1876 and held this position until his death.

Maskell was married to Lydia Cooper Brown on 15 September 1874 in two ceremonies, one Catholic and one Protestant. After Lydia's death in 1883, he married Alice Ann McClean in 1886.

Around 1873, Maskell became interested in entomology and wrote a book, An Account of the Insects Noxious to Agriculture and Plants in New Zealand, which mostly concerned pests in the Coccoidea family. Later, as his work became more well known, he was sent insect samples from a variety of locations, including Asia, Fijimarker, Hawaiimarker and the Americas, which resulted in him proposing over 330 species names.

Maskell particularly liked studying the internal anatomy of insects, probably due to his fascination with physiology and microscopy, and his work was also unique in that he studied immature stages of males and females as well as the mature females.

After experimenting with kerosene application, Maskell became an advocate of biological control of pests, which involves finding their natural predator, and helped Albert Koebele of the United States Department of Agriculturemarker to find a lady beetle predator of Australian Cottony Cushion Scale, which, at the time, had become a devastating pest of Californianmarker citrus farms. He was also a strong opponent of Darwinism and his arguments helped to shape several scientific debates of the time.

Maskell also studied arthropods, protozoa and microscopic algae, publishing more than 70 research papers on these topics.


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