Alex Ross, Fellow of the Zoological Society of London (FZS), became a member of the South African Philosophical Society (based in Cape Town) in 1897 and remained a member to 1906. In 1897 he began collecting insects around Johannesburg, presenting several species of different orders to the South African Museum in Cape Town. The next year he consulted the museum's insect collection and donated over 400 specimens collected near Johannesburg, representing 134 species of hymenoptera and coleoptera, of which 18 were new to the museum. More specimens of the same two orders followed in 1899. His interests included several other branches of natural history, for during the same three years he presented the museum also with some lizards, snakes, frogs and scorpions. It appears as if he moved to Natal at the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), for during 1900 "Mr A. Ross" presented some hymenoptera to the South African Museum from Natal.
By 1906 Ross resided in Melville, Johannesburg, and sold his "magnificent collection of South African lepidoptera" to the Transvaal Museum, Pretoria. It contained rare species, many of which were new to the museum.