Entomology is a branch of zoology that specializes in the study of insects. The term entomology is derived from the ancient Greek words entomon, which mean "insect," and –logia, meaning "study of." Historically, the term "insect" was relatively vague and its meaning included a wider range of animals that are not considered insects today. As a result, entomology used to involve the study of terrestrial animals in other arthropod groups and other phyla, such as earthworms, arachnids, land snails, myriapods, and slugs. Entomology also overlaps with other fields of study in zoology and biology, such as paleontology, morphology, ecology, developmental biology, physiology, systematics, biochemistry, biomechanics, and molecular genetics.
History of Entomology
The origins of entomology date back to prehistoric times, particularly in the context of agriculture, such as biological control and beekeeping. However, the more formal scientific study of insects began in the 16th century. British scientist William Kirby is regarded as the founder of modern entomology after publishing the first encyclopedia of entomology, which was entitled Introduction to Entomology. In 1833, Kirby played a significant role in establishing the Royal Entomological Society in London, which is one of the world’s earliest societies of its kind. Between the 19th and 20th century, entomology experienced rapid development and became a popular field of study. Some notable figures who studied entomology include Charles Darwin, Vladimir Nabokov, and Jean Henri Fabre. Similarly, Austrian ethologist Karl von Frisch, who was awarded the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and American biologist E.O Wilson, who won the Pulitzer Prize on two occasions, also studied entomology.
Significance of Entomology
Through the study of insects, entomologists have established the current base of knowledge on the ecology and physiology of insects. This knowledge has important implications, such as in farming, as insects can consume or spoil food and crops. The study of entomology can help to sustain optimal agricultural production, while veterinary entomology helps protect livestock from illnesses caused by insects. Entomologists also study environmental indicators, which provide a better understanding of the relationship between nature and humans. When entomologists identify and study dangerous species in ecosystems, they offer protection measures to the environment and ways to restore threatened habitats. Entomologists also provide relevant industries with different product opportunities in areas such as chemical and biological pest control.
Branches of Entomology
Entomology is a broad area of study, and is divided into different branches, which include insect morphology, insect ecology, insect physiology, insect pathology, and insect taxonomy. Other branches include medical and veterinary entomology, industrial entomology, biological control entomology, forensic entomology, post-harvest entomology, forest entomology, and protection entomology.
Interesting Facts About Insects
Currently, more than 1.3 million species of insects have been identified, and insects, in general, account for about two-thirds of all known living organisms on Earth, making them the most diverse group in the animal kingdom. It is estimated that the number of extant species of insects ranges between 6 million and 10 million. Insects are found in almost all environments, though only a few species are found in the oceans. Beetles alone have more than 330,000 species. Insects undergo four stages of development known as metamorphosis, while others undergo three-stage metamorphosis.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
Your MLA Citation
Your APA Citation
Your Chicago Citation
Your Harvard CitationRemember to italicize the title of this article in your Harvard citation.