Insects and Entomologists
This month insects are under the magnifying glass, along with some of the entomologists who have studied them. Insects are small, invertebrate animals, but not all creepy-crawlies are insects. True insects have a body divided into head, thorax, and abdomen, and no more six legs in their adult form.
Insects are to be found almost everywhere. A million separate species of insects have so far been described, but some entomologists believe there may be as many as 30 million species yet to be discovered. Insects play a major role in our environment. Some - such as the malaria-carrying mosquito - can be serious pests, while others - such as the pollinating bee - are beneficial and often of vital importance for us.
Insects exercise a fascination for amateur natural historians and professional entomologists alike. This month we highlight the papers of some of the writers, artists, and other enthusiasts who have collected or studied insects, as well as papers of professional biologists. There are also links to museum collections, entomological organisations, and events.
photo top right courtesy Oxford University Museum of Natural History
- Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910): Russian novelist Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoi had bee-keeing as a hobby
- George Crotch (1842-1874): librarian and zoologist; author of Catalogue of British coleoptera, 1866 (coleoptera are beetles)
- Patrick Manson (1844-1922): physician and parasitologist who first made the connection between mosquitoes and malaria
- Emanuel Augustus Newberry (1845-1927) entomologist who compiled a "Register of British Coleoptera and Hemiptera" (hemiptera include bugs and lice)
- Oliver Erichson Janson (1850-1926): entomologist who traded in natural history specimens
- Francis John Henry Jenkinson (1853-1923): Curator of Insects at Cambridge University Museum of Zoology, and Cambridge University Librarian
- John Beveridge (1857-1943): Presbyterian minister and historian, with an interest in bee-keeping
- George Darby Haviland (1857-1901): surgeon and naturalist who collected termites
- Robert Cyril Layton Perkins (1866-1955): lived and worked on the Hawaiian Islands and contributed to the Fauna Hawaiiensis, 1903, 1913, edited by David Sharp (1840-1922)
- David Waterson (1870-1954): artist and entomologist; discovered a species of wasp previously believed extinct
- H. Evans (fl 1851-1853): lepidopterist (lepidoptera are butterflies and moths)
- A.C. Crawfurd (1883-1977): zoologist who collected insects
- James Watson Munro (1888-1968): zoologist with an interest in pest control; helped establish Slough Biological Field Station
- Edmund Brisco Ford (1901-1988): geneticist with an interest in moths, especially the industrial melanic peppered moth, which provides an important example of natural selection
- David Guthrie (died 1941): journalist who retired to Jersey, where he made drawings of the local insects
- Nikolaas Tinbergen (1907-1988): pioneering ethologist (animal behaviourist) with a special interest in wasps and butterflies; later concerned with human ethology and autism
- John Pringle (1912-1982): zoologist with a special interest in insect physiology
- Wilfrid Hogarth Dowdeswell (1914-1996): educationalist and lepidopterist, who worked with Edmund Brisco Ford (1901-1988)
- Torkel Weis-Fogh (1922-1975): Danish zoologist, specialising in insect physiology, in particular that of locusts
The Insect Circus will be appearing at Hoxton Hall, London N1, for this year's Christmas season, December 19th-30th, 2006. Photograph of wasp and wasp tamer copyright © 2005 Insect Circus Society.
- Hunterian Museum: includes an extensive zoology collection (University of Glasgow)
- Manchester Museum: one of the country's largest collections of insect specimens
- Natural History Museum: around 28 million insect specimens are currently being moved to the Museum's new Darwin Centre (London)
- Oxford University Museum of Natural History: the Hope Entomological Collections are second in size and importance to the national insect collection at the Natural History Museum
- University Museum of Zoology Cambridge: includes the Crotch collection of ladybirds, one of the most important such collections in the world
- Royal Entomological Society: founded in 1833 as the Entomological Society of London
- British Entomological & Natural History Society: society for both amateur and professional entomologists
- Amateur Entomologists' Society: promotes the study of entomology, especially amongst amateurs and young people
- Buglife: the Invertebrate Conservation Trust
- International Arts Pestival: celebrating insects in art, and the art of being an insect, May 27th - June 4th, 2006 (London Wetland Centre)
- National Insect Week: June 19th-25th, 2006 (English Nature)
- Springwatch Survey: watch out for Spring's first ladybirds, bumble bees, and peacock butterflies (BBC and Woodland Trust)
- Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World: tourist and educational attraction (Edinburgh)
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