In Memoriam: Ian Toal (@mamestraconfigurata)

Quoting directly from this comment in a recent moth topic:

I definitely am not somebody who knew Ian well, but I didn’t want this sad news to stay hidden in a moth topic that forum users who regularly interacted with Ian here might miss. I’ve definitely noticed the absence of Ian on the forum. In my brief interactions with Ian, I’ve seen that:

  • He was kind, insightful, stood up for people, and was very open minded.
  • He was one of the go-to people for all-things-moth related.
  • He had great book recommendations (e.g. this one)

For anyone who had the pleasure of interacting with Ian, please leave a few memories in the comments in memoriam.


I’m saddened to hear of Ian’s passing. Although I didn’t know him personally, I know I benefited from his IDs on quite a few observations. I’m sure many iNatters will say the same!


Rest in peace Ian. Even a few identifications from someone here and there makes me grateful for all that he’s done.


I noticed the quiet gap left by a good kind man.


So sorry. His posts on this forum were always thoughtful and constructive. We will miss his voice.


I always enjoyed his comments and views on the Forum and although I’m not into moths, his contributions to their study on iNaturalist were significant. I’m saddened to hear he is gone.


What awful news. He will be missed by many.


I am deeply sorry to hear of his passing.


Oh no! I liked Ian and really enjoyed reading his forum posts. He had a really insightful perspective on any topic he joined. I will miss him.


Rest in peace Ian. I didn’t personally know him but I enjoyed reading his messages here on the forum, for example the pictures of moths he shared, and he was a nice and enthusiastic man.


Ian always made it a point to say “Welcome to the forum!” after people’s first posts, even if he had no further discussion within the topic. He said it, I’m sure, because he wanted people to feel welcome, comfortable, and encouraged to participate. He was always kind and enthusiastic every time he posted. On one of our last interactions he described one of the core themes Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which as a result I picked up and am enjoying deeply.


I will be praying for his family as they endure the loss of a good man.


Oh no! My only interaction with Ian had been in this forum, and every time he had been patient, cordial, and informative. May he rest in peace, and I send his family my condolences.


I appreciated my interactions with Ian when working on my own and others’ moth IDs, as well as here in the forum. He was often a thoughtful and very helpful person in that regard.

It’s worth illustrating just how much he helped others with IDs:

As a fellow Canadian, whose curiosity about moths has been stoked by iNaturalist, I’m deeply appreciative of his kind efforts on these endeavours.

For those who don’t know, his username, Mamestra configurata is a species of moth. I found it a little funny that he never posted an observation of his namesake despite it being a native species of Manitoba, like him. I’m sure that he too would laugh, given he had the sense of humour to adopt a major agricultural pest as his namesake!

Rest in peace, friend.

P.S. @vreinkymov, thank you for making the post for this.

Editing to note that you can read Ian’s obituary in the Winnipeg Free Press.


I’m so, so sorry to hear this. I always enjoyed seeing his name in the forum, as I knew his contributions would always be thoughtful, good-natured, and often entertaining. This is a big loss, and many thanks to his wife for letting us know. Wishing his loved ones peace and good memories.


Such a very sad loss. Ian identified many of my moth sightings and we had a couple of good discussions about making useful tools for moth enthusiasts to help differentiate between common species. Sadly, we never had the opportunity to work on these. I, too, found Ian’s comments in the forum to be so helpful and friendly, and always kind and respectful. I will definitely miss his contributions here.


Ian once messaged us to ask some questions about us and to help us feel more welcome on the forum. This is rare for us, that someone reaches out simply to get to know us better and to learn and connect and share. Ian frequently “liked” our posts, too. We are sad to hear this news. :candle: :cry:


Oh no, that is so unexpected and sad, he was a kind man and left comments that warmed many hearts here.( His love for moths was great and I hope it helped others to feel the same.


Although we never knew Ian, we always appreciated Ian’s inputs on our Noctuid observations from Canada (and California!). He always took the time to explain his thought process and provide helpful links which has helped us to learn and appreciate Noctuids.


I’m so sorry to hear of his passing. He was a valuable member of this forum, and I will miss his thoughtful and helpful responses, which I always enjoyed reading.