Entomology (from Ancient Greek ἔντομον (entomon) 'insect', and -λογία (-logia) 'study')[1] is the scientific study of insects, a branch of zoology. In the past the term insect was less specific, and historically the definition of entomology would also include the study of animals in other arthropod groups, such as arachnids, myriapods, and crustaceans. This wider meaning may still be encountered in informal use.

Common scorpionflyBlue emperorCoffee locustEuropean earwigVinegar flyGerman waspMarch brown mayflyDouble drummerDog fleaOld World swallowtailEuropean mantisPhyllium philippinicumHead louseSilverfishChrysopa perlaEuropean stag beetleNorthern harvester termiteDichrostigma flavipes
Diversity of insects from different orders

Like several of the other fields that are categorized within zoology, entomology is a taxon-based category; any form of scientific study in which there is a focus on insect-related inquiries is, by definition, entomology. Entomology, therefore, overlaps with a cross-section of topics as diverse as molecular genetics, behavior, neuroscience, biomechanics, biochemistry, systematics, physiology, developmental biology, ecology, morphology, and paleontology.

Over 1.3 million insect species have been described, more than two-thirds of all known species.[2] Some insect species date back to around 400 million years ago. They have many kinds of interactions with humans and other forms of life on Earth.

History edit

Plate from Transactions of the Entomological Society, 1848
These 100 Trigonopterus species were described simultaneously using DNA barcoding.

Entomology is rooted in nearly all human cultures from prehistoric times, primarily in the context of agriculture (especially biological control and beekeeping). The natural philosopher Pliny the Elder (23–79 CE) wrote a book on the kinds of insects,[3] while the scientist of Kufa, Ibn al-A'rābī (760–845 CE) wrote a book on flies, Kitāb al-Dabāb (كتاب الذباب). However scientific study in the modern sense began only relatively recently, in the 16th century.[4] Ulisse Aldrovandi's De Animalibus Insectis (Concerning Insect Animals) was published in 1602. Microscopist Jan Swammerdam published History of Insects, correctly describing the reproductive organs of insects and metamorphosis.[5] In 1705, Maria Sibylla Merian published the book Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium about the tropical insects of Dutch Surinam.[6]

Early entomological works associated with the naming and classification of species followed the practice of maintaining cabinets of curiosity, predominantly in Europe. This collecting fashion led to the formation of natural history societies, exhibitions of private collections, and journals for recording communications and the documentation of new species. Many of the collectors tended to be from the aristocracy, and there developed a trade involving collectors around the world and traders. This has been called the "era of heroic entomology." William Kirby is widely considered as the father of entomology in England. In collaboration with William Spence, he published a definitive entomological encyclopedia, Introduction to Entomology, regarded as the subject's foundational text. He also helped found the Royal Entomological Society in London in 1833, one of the earliest such societies in the world; earlier antecedents, such as the Aurelian society date back to the 1740s. In the late 19th century, the growth of agriculture, and colonial trade spawned the "era of economic entomology" which created the professional entomologist associated with the rise of the university and training in the field of biology.[7][8]

Entomology developed rapidly in the 19th and 20th centuries and was studied by large numbers of people, including such notable figures as Charles Darwin, Jean-Henri Fabre, Vladimir Nabokov, Karl von Frisch (winner of the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine),[9] and twice Pulitzer Prize winner E. O. Wilson.

There has also been a history of people becoming entomologists through museum curation and research assistance,[10] such as Sophie Lutterlough at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Insect identification is an increasingly common hobby, with butterflies and dragonflies being the most popular.[citation needed]

Most insects can easily be allocated to order, such as Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, and ants) or Coleoptera (beetles). However, identifying to genus or species is usually only possible through the use of identification keys and monographs. Because the class Insecta contains a very large number of species (over 330,000 species of beetles alone) and the characteristics distinguishing them are unfamiliar, and often subtle (or invisible without a microscope), this is often very difficult even for a specialist. This has led to the development of automated species identification systems targeted on insects, for example, Daisy, ABIS, SPIDA and Draw-wing.

In pest control edit

In 1994, the Entomological Society of America launched a new professional certification program for the pest control industry called the Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE). To qualify as a "true entomologist" an individual would normally require an advanced degree, with most entomologists pursuing a PhD. While not true entomologists in the traditional sense, individuals who attain the ACE certification may be referred to as ACEs or Associate Certified Entomologists.[citation needed]

As such, there are also other credential programs managed by the Entomological Society of America, that have varying credential requirements. These other programs, are known as Public Health Entomology (PHE), Certified IPM Technicians (CITs), and Board Certified Entomologists (BCEs) (ESA Certification Corporation). To be qualified in Public Health Entomology (PHE), one must succeed in passing an exam, that refers to the types of arthropods that have the capability, of being able to spread diseases and lead to medical complications (ESA Certification Corporation). Along with this, these individuals also have to "agree to ascribe to a code of ethical behavior" (ESA Certification Corporation). Individuals who are planning to become Certified IPM Technicians (CITs), need to obtain at around 1-4 years of experience in pest management and successfully pass an exam, that is based on the information, that they are acquainted with (ESA Certification Corporation). Like in Public Health Entomology (PHE), those who want to become Certified IPM Technicians (CITs), also have to "agree to ascribe to a code of ethical behavior" (ESA Certification Corporation). Additionally, these individuals have to be approved on being able to use pesticides (ESA Certification Corporation). In respects to those, who plan on becoming Board Certified Entomologists (BCEs), these individuals have to pass two exams and "agree to ascribe to a code of ethical behavior" (ESA Certification Corporation). As with this, they also have to fulfill a certain amount of educational requirements, every 12 months (ESA Certification Corporation).[11]

Subdisciplines edit

Example of a collection barcode on a pinned beetle specimen

Many entomologists specialize in a single order or even a family of insects, and a number of these subspecialties are given their own informal names, typically (but not always) derived from the scientific name of the group:

Entomologists edit

"The butterfly catcher", painting by Carl Spitzweg

Organizations edit

Like other scientific specialties, entomologists have a number of local, national, and international organizations. There are also many organizations specializing in specific subareas.

Research collection edit

Here is a list of selected very large insect collections, housed in museums, universities, or research institutes.

Asia edit

Africa edit

Australasia edit

The Entomology Research Collection at Lincoln University, New Zealand, with curator John Marris

Europe edit

United States edit

Canada edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Liddell, Henry George and Robert Scott (1980). A Greek-English Lexicon (Abridged ed.). United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-910207-4.
  2. ^ Chapman, A. D. (2009). Numbers of living species in Australia and the World (2 ed.). Canberra: Australian Biological Resources Study. pp. 60pp. ISBN 978-0-642-56850-2. Archived from the original on 2009-05-19. Retrieved 2007-10-26.
  3. ^ Naturalis Historia
  4. ^ Antonio Saltini, Storia delle scienze agrarie, 4 vols, Bologna 1984–89, ISBN 88-206-2412-5, ISBN 88-206-2413-3, ISBN 88-206-2414-1, ISBN 88-206-2415-X
  5. ^ "Entomology". Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  6. ^ Kristensen, Niels P. (1999). "Historical Introduction". In Kristensen, Niels P. (ed.). Lepidoptera, moths and butterflies: Evolution, Systematics and Biogeography. Volume 4, Part 35 of Handbuch der Zoologie:Eine Naturgeschichte der Stämme des Tierreiches. Arthropoda: Insecta. Walter de Gruyter. p. 1. ISBN 978-3-11-015704-8.
  7. ^ Elias, Scott A. (2014). "A Brief History of the Changing Occupations and Demographics of Coleopterists from the 18th Through the 20th Century". Journal of the History of Biology. 47 (2): 213–242. doi:10.1007/s10739-013-9365-9. JSTOR 43863376. PMID 23928824. S2CID 24812002.
  8. ^ Clark, John F.M. (2009). Bugs and the Victorians. Yale University Press. pp. 26–27. ISBN 978-0300150919.
  9. ^ "Karl von Frisch – Nobel Lecture: Decoding the Language of the Bee".
  10. ^ Starrs, Siobhan (10 August 2010). "A Scientist and a Tinkerer – A Story in a Frame". National Museum of Natural History Unearthed. National Museum of Natural History. Archived from the original on 19 March 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Roster | Certification - Entomological Society of America". entocert.org. Retrieved 2023-10-08.
  12. ^ Entomological Society of India
  13. ^ Australian Entomological Society
  14. ^ Entomological Society of New Zealand
  15. ^ "KwaZulu-Natal Museum".
  16. ^ "Magyar Természettudományi Múzeum".
  17. ^ "MHN". Archived from the original on July 26, 2003. Retrieved 2007-01-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  18. ^ "Home".
  19. ^ "O.U.M.N.H. Homepage".
  20. ^ "Auburn University Museum of Natural History".
  21. ^ "Collections". Archived from the original on 2010-08-24.
  22. ^ NMSU Entomology Plant Pathology; Weed science. "New Mexico State University Arthropod Museum". Archived from the original on 2013-05-01. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
  23. ^ "Enns Entomology Museum, MU".
  24. ^ "Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids, and Nematodes – Homepage".
  25. ^ "E.H. Strickland Entomological Museum – Department of Biological Sciences, Studies in Life Sciences".
  26. ^ "Lyman Entomological Museum".
  27. ^ "University of Guelph Insect Collection". uoguelph.ca. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  28. ^ "The Victoria Bug Zoo TM". Archived from the original on 2014-12-19. Retrieved 2014-03-27.
  29. ^ "J. B. Wallis / R. E. Roughley Museum of Entomology | Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences | University of Manitoba".

Further reading edit

"I suppose you are an entomologist?"

"Not quite so ambitious as that, sir. I should like to put my eyes on the individual entitled to that name. No man can be truly called an entomologist, sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp."

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., The Poet at the Breakfast Table.

  • Capinera, JL (editor). 2008. Encyclopedia of Entomology, 2nd Edition. Springer. ISBN 1-4020-6242-7
  • Chiang, H.C. and G. C. Jahn 1996. Entomology in the Cambodia-IRRI-Australia Project. (in Chinese) Chinese Entomol. Soc. Newsltr. (Taiwan) 3: 9–11.
  • Davidson, E. 2006. Big Fleas Have Little Fleas: How Discoveries of Invertebrate Diseases Are Advancing Modern Science University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 208 pages, ISBN 0-8165-2544-7.
  • Gillot, Cedric. Entomology. Second Edition, Plenum Press, New York, NY / London 1995, ISBN 0-306-44967-6.
  • Grimaldi, D. & Engel, M.S. (2005). Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-82149-5.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Triplehorn, Charles A. and Norman F. Johnson (2005-05-19). Borror and DeLong's Introduction to the Study of Insects, 7th edition, Thomas Brooks/Cole. ISBN 0-03-096835-6. — a classic textbook in North America.
  • Wale, Matthew. Making Entomologists: How Periodicals Shaped Scientific Communities in Nineteenth-Century Britain (U of Pittsburgh Press, 2022) online book review

External links edit