class of arthropods

Insect (from Latin insectum, a calque of Greek]] ἔντομον [éntomon], "cut into sections") is a class (Insecta) of hexapod invertebrates within the arthropod phylum that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body (head, thorax and abdomen), three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes and one pair of antennae. Insects are the most diverse group of animals on the planet, including more than a million described species and representing more than half of all known living organisms. The number of extant species is estimated at between six and ten million, and potentially represent over 90% of the differing animal life forms on Earth. Insects may be found in nearly all environments, although only a small number of species reside in the oceans, a habitat dominated by another arthropod group, crustaceans.

Die Gartenlaube (The Garden Arbor) (1887) Life cycle of the Mayfly, Ephoron virgo illustration.


  • Swarm Intelligence can be defined more precisely as: Any attempt to design algorithms or distributed problem-solving methods inspired by the collective behavior of the social insect colonies or other animal societies. The main properties of such systems are flexibility, robustness, decentralization and self-organization.
    • Ajith Abraham, Crina Grosan, Vitorino Ramos, Springer, editors, Swarm Intelligence in Data Mining (2006), p. 193.
  • When I behold what pleasure is Pursuit,
    What life, what glorious eagerness it is,
    Then mark how full Possession falls from this,
    How fairer seems the blossom than the fruit,—
    I am perplext, and often stricken mute,
    Wondering which attained the higher bliss,
    The wing'd insect, or the chrysalis
    It thrust aside with unreluctant foot.
    • Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Sonnet, Pursuit and Possession Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922)
  • The mortal enemies of man are not his fellows of another continent or race; they are the aspects of the physical world which limit or challenge his control, the disease germs that attack him and his domesticated plants and animals, and the insects that carry many of these germs as well as working notable direct injury. This is not the age of man, however great his superiority in size and intelligence; it is literally the age of insects.
    • W. C. Allee, The Social Life of Animals (1938), Chapter VII: Some Human Implications.
  • The individual human being, as such, does not—cannot—have any volition. ...the human being is not an autonomous entity. ...merely an infinitesimal part of the totality of manifestation. ...he has, like any other sentient being (insect or animal), been endowed with sentience. ...he has, in addition been endowed with intellect. In the absence of consciousness, there is no sentience, no intellect... no manifest world.
    • Ramesh Balsekar, The Final Truth: A Guide to Ultimate Understanding (1989) p. 215, as quoted in Balsekar, The Wisdom of Balsekar: The World's Leading Teacher of Advaita (2012)
  • Laws, as we read in ancient sages,
    Have been like cobwebs in all ages:
    Cobwebs for little flies are spread,
    And laws for little folks are made;
    But if an insect of renown,
    Hornet or beetle, wasp or drone,
    Be caught in quest of sport or plunder,
    The flimsy fetter flies in sunder.
  • Oh, those scoundrelly Charity Commissioners! […] By the side of these anthropoid apes, the genuine bookworm, the paper-eating insect, ravenous as he once was, has done comparatively little mischief.
    • Augustine Birrell, "Bookworms," In the Name of the Bodleian, and Other Essays (1905)
  • Human beings suffer from a 'centralized mindset'; they would like to assign the coordination of activities to a central command. But the way social insects form highways and other amazing structures such as bridges, chains, nests (by the way, African fungus-growing termites have invented air conditioning) and can perform complex tasks (nest building, defense, cleaning, brood care, foraging, etc) is very different: they self-organize through direct and indirect interactions.
    • Eric Bonabeau, as quoted in “Swarm Intelligence: An Interview with Eric Bonabeau” by Derrick Story (02/21/2003), O'Reilly
  • The most amazing thing about social insect colonies is that there's no individual in charge. If you look at a single ant, you may have the impression that it is behaving, if not randomly, at least not in synchrony with the rest of the colony. You feel that it is doing its own things without paying too much attention to what the others are doing.
    • Eric Bonabeau, as quoted in “Swarm Intelligence: An Interview with Eric Bonabeau” by Derrick Story (02/21/2003), O'Reilly
  • I don't know but you have spoken too highly of Gibbon's book; the Dean of Derry, who is our Club as well as Gibbon, talks of answering it. I think it is right that as fast as infidel wasps or venomous insects, whether creeping or flying, are hatched, they should be crushed. [...] He is an ugly, affected, disgusting fellow, and poisons our literary Club to me.
    • James Boswell, Letters of James Boswell, Addressed to the Rev. W. J. Temple (1857)
  • The same Being that fashioned the insect, whose existence is only discerned by a microscope, and gave that invisible speck a system of ducts and other organs to perform its vital functions, created the enormous mass of the planet thirteen hundred times larger than our earth, and launched it in its course round the sun, and the comet, wheeling with a velocity that would carry it round our globe in less than two minutes of time, and yet revolving through so prodigious a space that it takes near six centuries to encircle the sun!
  • Weep not for little greenflies who are orphaned in the morning;
    They need no mother's tender care - by evening they'll be spawning.
    Nor doth the greenfly malice bear for swatting her relations!
    She just lays eggs upon the dregs of slaughtered generations.
    And if she comes up smiling when with soap-suds she's been plastered,
    There's only one thing to be done,
    So let me go and get my gun,
    And shoot the little dastard!
    • "C.H.P.", from The Countryman, quoted from The Observer's Book of Common Insects and Spiders (1953)
  • "What sort of insects do you rejoice in, where you come from?" the Gnat inquired.
    "I don't rejoice in insects at all," Alice explained, "because I'm rather afraid of them—at least the large kinds. But I can tell you the names of some of them."
    "Of course they answer to their names?" the Gnat remarked carelessly.
    "I never knew them to do it."
    "What's the use of their having names," the Gnat said, "if they won't answer to them?"
    "No use to them," said Alice; "but it's useful to the people who name them, I suppose. If not, why do things have names at all?"
  • I wonder if that's the reason insects are so fond of flying into candles - because they want to turn into Snap-dragon-flies!
  • These sprays, dusts, and aerosols are now applied almost universally to farms, gardens, forests, and homes — nonselective chemicals that have the power to kill every insect, the "good" and the "bad," to still the song of birds and the leaping of fish in the streams, to coat the leaves with a deadly film, and to linger on in soil — all this though the intended target may be only a few weeds or insects. Can anyone believe it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons on the surface of the earth without making it unfit for all life? They should not be called "insecticides," but "biocides."
  • Even today, when an Aboriginal mother notices the first stirrings of speech in her child, she lets it handle the "things" of that particular country: leaves, fruit, insects and so forth. "We give our children guns and computer games," Wendy said. "They gave their children the land."
  • Science studies what's at the edge of understanding, and what's at the edge of understanding is usually fairly simple. And it rarely reaches human affairs. Human affairs are way too complicated. In fact even understanding insects is an extremely complicated problem in the sciences. So the actual sciences tell us virtually nothing about human affairs.
    • Noam Chomsky, in Science in the Dock, Discussion with Noam Chomsky, Lawrence Krauss & Sean M. Carroll (2011)
  • Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
  • Loud is the summer's busy song
    The smallest breeze can find a tongue,
    While insects of each tiny size
    Grow teasing with their melodies,
    Till noon burns with its blistering breath
    Around, and day lies still as death.
    • John Clare, July, Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922)
  • It’s phenomenal that any insect transforms. They all do. That’s part of being an insect.
  • There is a God! Inanimate nature, from the pebble upon the beach, to the orb that shines in the vaulted sky, declares it; and animate existence, from the tiniest insect, to Gabriel before the throne. The earth is full of Him.
    • Joseph Dare as quoted by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)
  • We can allow satellites, planets, suns, universe, nay whole systems of universe to be governed by laws, but the smallest insect, we wish to be created at once by special act… Our faculties are more fitted to recognize the wonderful structure of a beetle than a Universe.
  • What can be more curious than that the hand of a man, formed for grasping, that of a mole for digging, the leg of the horse, the paddle of the porpoise, and the wing of the bat, should all be constructed on the same pattern, and should include the same bones, in the same relative positions? … Hence the same names can be given to the homologous bones in widely different animals. We see the same great law in the construction of the mouths of insects: what can be more different than the immensely long spiral proboscis of a sphinx-moth, the curious folded one of a bee or bug, and the great jaws of a beetle?—yet all these organs, serving for such different purposes, are formed by infinitely numerous modifications of an upper lip, mandibles, and two pairs of maxillæ.
    • Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (1859) Ch. 13 "Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Organs," pp. 434-435.
  • The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness and misery. Happiness is never better exhibited than by young animals, such as puppies, kittens, lambs, &c., when playing together, like our own children. Even insects play together, as has been described by that excellent observer, P. Huber, who saw ants chasing and pretending to bite each other, like so many puppies.
  • Even insects express anger, terror, jealousy, and love by their stridulation.
    • Charles Darwin, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872) Ch. 14 "Concluding Remarks and Summary", p. 350.
  • "If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race," returned the Ghost, "will find him here. What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."
    Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.
    "Man," said the Ghost, "if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man's child. Oh God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust."
  • What is this world? A complex whole, subject to endless revolutions. All these revolutions show a continual tendency to destruction; a swift succession of beings who follow one another, press forward, and vanish; a fleeting symmetry; the order of a moment. I reproached you just now with estimating the perfection of things by your own capacity; and I might accuse you here of measuring its duration by the length of your own days. You judge of the continuous existence of the world, as an ephemeral insect might judge of yours. The world is eternal for you, as you are eternal to the being that lives but for one instant. Yet the insect is the more reasonable of the two. For what a prodigious succession of ephemeral generations attests your eternity! What an immeasurable tradition! Yet shall we all pass away, without the possibility of assigning either the real extension that we filled in space, or the precise time that we shall have endured. Time, matter, space—all, it may be, are no more than a point.
    • Denis Diderot, Lettre sur les aveugles [Letter on the Blind] (1749)
  • The reason we fart... For animals like spiders and insects, there are similar processes! Some animals like termites, for example, better match us as they, too, have methane-producing bacteria in their guts which helps them break down wood! For other animals, other digestive processes make waste products and sometimes gas, so yes, spiders (and insects) do fart, in a sense! Since their exoskeletons are generally rigid, though, they may not produce the sound we associate with farting, thus, you might say that most spider and insect farts are "silent but deadly"!
    • Ben Eisenkop, "Q for Unidan from my 8yo daughter: do spiders fart?" (Sep 21, 2013) post.
  • The gregarious habit of certain larvae supplies a possible solution... if we are willing to accept the view that the distasteful quality of the imago, which warning colours are so well adapted to advertise, is itself merely a by-product due to the persistence of nauseous substances acquired through the protection afforded to the larva. For, although with the adult insect the effect of increased distastefulness upon the actions of the predator will be merely to make that individual predator avoid all members of the persecuted species, and so... to confer no advantage upon its genotype, with gregarious larvae the effect will certainly be to give the increased protection especially to one particular group of larvae, probably brothers and sisters of the individual attacked. The selective potency... applies to the whole of a possibly numerous brood. There is thus no doubt of the real efficacy of this form of selection, though it may well be doubted if all cases of insect distastefulness can be explained by the same principle.
    • Ronald Fisher, The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection (1930) Ch. 7 The Evolution of Distastefulness.
  • People throughout the world have been eating insects as a regular part of their diets for millennia. ...The earliest citing of entomophagy can be found in biblical literature... From ants to beetle larvae – eaten by tribes in Africa and Australia as part of their subsistence diets – to the popular, crispy-fried locusts and beetles enjoyed in Thailand, it is estimated that insect-eating is practised regularly by at least 2 billion people worldwide. More than 1900 insect species have been documented in literature as edible, most of them in tropical countries. The most commonly eaten insect groups are beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, cicadas, leaf and planthoppers, scale insects and true bugs, termites, dragonflies and flies. ...Insects are healthy, nutritious alternatives to mainstream staples... Insects promoted as food emit considerably fewer greenhouse gases (GHGs) than most livestock... insects are very efficient at converting feed into protein. Insects can be fed on organic waste streams. ...Insect harvesting/rearing is a low-tech, low-capital investment option... Insect rearing can be low-tech or very sophisticated, depending on the level of investment.
    • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (, Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security (2013) FAO Forestry Paper 171.
  • The better sort here pretend to the utmost compassion for animals of every kind. To hear them speak, a stranger would be apt to imagine they could hardly hurt the gnat that stung them: they seem so tender and so full of pity, that one would take them for the harmless friends of the whole creation; the protectors of the meanest insect or reptile that was privileged with existence. And yet, would you believe it? I have seen the very men who have thus boasted of their tenderness, at the same time devouring the flesh of six different animals toasted up in a fricassee. Strange contrariety of conduct! they pity and they eat the objects of their compassion.
  • The Creator would appear as endowed with a passion for stars, on the one hand, and for beetles on the other...
    • Paraphrase: There are more types of beetles than any other form of insect, and more insects than any other kind of animal.
    • J. B. S. Haldane, What is Life? The Layman's View of Nature (1949) p. 248. See speech to the British Interplanetary Society in 1951, Vol. 10 of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society as reported by Stephen Jay Gould, Dinosaur in a Haystack: Reflections in Natural History (1995). See G. Evelyn Hutchinson, "Homage to Santa Rosalia, or why are there so many kinds of animals" in American Naturalist (May-June 1959).
  • Wondering how golden-crowned kinglets, which eat insects from open branches, survive the Maine winters...
    • Bernd Heinrich, A Year in the Maine Woods (1995) "December 11 : Wind", p. 150.
  • Some people think very much of turnips, parsnips and rutabagas as food, but many insects like them even less. Dr. E. P. Lichtenstein and his co-workers... have isolated materials from all three vegetables that can kill a number of insect pests, including vinegar flies, Mexican bean beatles, mosquito larvae, houseflies and mites. There is also strong evidence that the roots of cabbages, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale, mustard and kohlrabi have this same built-in protection against the insect world, says Dr. Lichtenstein.
    • John F. Henahan, Men and Molecules (1966)
  • From one point of view we can say that we have human bodies and are practicing the Buddha's teachings and are thus much better than insects. But we can also say that insects are innocent and free from guile, where as we often lie and misrepresent ourselves in devious ways in order to achieve our ends or better ourselves. From this perspective, we are much worse than insects.
    • H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama in Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection (2004)
  • Your thirty-six dissections must have cost you a deal of time and labor,—the Master said.
    —What have I to do with time, but to fill it up with labor?—answered the Scarabee.—It is my meat and drink to work over my beetles. My holidays are when I get a rare specimen. My rest is to watch the habits of insects,—those that I do not pretend to study. Here is my muscarium, my home for house-flies; very interesting creatures; here they breed and buzz and feed and enjoy themselves, and die in a good old age of a few months. My favorite insect lives in this other case; she is at home, but in her private-chamber; you shall see her.
    He tapped on the glass lightly, and a large, gray, hairy spider came forth from the hollow of a funnel-like web.
    —And this is all the friend you have to love?—said the Master, with a tenderness in his voice which made the question very significant.
    —Nothing else loves me better than she does, that I know of,—he answered.
    —To think of it! Not even a dog to lick his hand, or a cat to purr and rub her fur against him!
  • I am not sorry for having wrought in common, crude material so much; that is the right American stuff; and perhaps hereafter, when my din is done, if anyone is curious to know what that noise was, it will be found to have proceeded from a small insect which was scraping about on the surface of our life and trying to get into its meaning for the sake of the other insects larger or smaller. That is, such has been my unconscious work; consciously, I was always, as I still am, trying to fashion a piece of literature out of the life next at hand.
  • What a world of wonders is there opened to our view, in the transformations the insect tribe undergo, from the period of their birth, to the full and complete development of their several organs. Unless well assured of the fact, how could we imagine the feeble helpless worm... would ever become the industrious, enterprising ant, furnished with organs of motion and of flight. How devoid would appear the statement... that the magnificent butterfly we see hovering from flower to flower, ever drew its origin from the creeping caterpillar. But these changes... are yet equalled by other circumstances connected with the metamorphoses of insects, for with these changes in appearance, the animal alters its habits and mode of life. The butterfly in its first or larva state of existence eats voraciously... greatly disproportioned to its size... in its second or pupa state, this inordinate apetite ceases, and all its active powers are suspended; in its third imago, or perfect state, no longer bound... it takes a wider range, cleaves the regions of the air, and sips the nectar of flowers. The beautiful silver-winged insect (Libellula) now crossing our path, passed the first part of its existence as a water insect, and that little creature (Ephemera) we see sporting in a sun-beam, whose existence as a winged insect is limited only to a few hours... has also passed the first period of its life in the same element. The common gnat, that so much annoys us on our evening walks, was originally an inhabitant of some stagnant pool. The beetle that flits along at eve-tide, lay in a worm-like state for a considerable period, locked up in the caverned chambers of the earth, and—but why proceed, when the whole insect tribe, generally speaking, undergo such developments.
  • It is estimated that insects form part of the traditional diets of at least 2 billion people. More than 1 900 species have reportedly been used as food. Insects deliver a host of ecological services that are fundamental to the survival of humankind. They also play an important role as pollinators in plant reproduction, in improving soil fertility through waste bioconversion, and in natural biocontrol for harmful pest species, and they provide a variety of valuable products for humans such as honey and silk and medical applications such as maggot therapy.
  • The word insect derives from the Latin word insectum, meaning “with a notched or divided body”, literally “cut into sections”, from the fact that insects’ bodies have three parts. Pliny the Elder created the word, translating the Greek word ἔντομος (entomos) or insect (as in entomology, which was Aristotle’s term for this class of life), also in reference to their “notched” bodies. The term was first documented in English in 1601 in Holland’s translation of Pliny (Harpe and McCormack, 2001).
  • Over the past 400 million years, evolution has produced a wide variety of arthropod species adapted to their environments. About 1 million of the 1.4 million described animal species on earth are insects, and millions more are believed to exist. Contrary to popular belief, of the 1 million described insect species, only 5 000 can be considered harmful to crops, livestock or human beings (Van Lenteren, 2006).
  • A fly, Sir, may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still.
  • A young woman I was treating had, at a critical moment, a dream in which she was given a golden scarab. While she was telling me this dream, I sat with my back to the closed window. Suddenly I heard a noise behind me, like a gentle tapping. I turned round and saw a flying insect knocking against the window-pane from the outside. I opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in. It was the nearest analogy to a golden scarab one finds in our latitudes, a scarabaeid beetle, the common rose-chafer (Cetonia aurata), which, contrary to its usual habits had evidently felt the urge to get into a dark room at this particular moment. I must admit that nothing like it ever happened to me before or since.
    • Carl Jung, Synchronicity : An Acausal Connecting Principle (1960)
  • As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into an enormous insect.
  • As soon as I am outside my religious understanding, I feel as an insect with which children are playing must feel, because life seems to have dealt with me so unmercifully; as soon as I am inside my religious understanding, I understand that precisely this has absolute meaning for me. Hence, that which in one case is a dreadful jest is in another sense the most profound earnestness. Earnestness is basically not something simple, a simplex, but is a compositum compound, for true earnestness is the unity of jest and earnestness.
  • All things are connected with all things throughout the universe, from the insect to the archangel...
    • John Lanahan, as quoted in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)
  • No one has any right to be angry with me, if I think fit to enumerate man among the quadrapeds. Man is neither a stone nor a plant, but an animal, for such is his way of living and moving; nor is he a worm, for then he would have only one foot; nor an insect, for then he would have antennae; nor a fish, for he has no fins; nor a bird, for he has no wings. Therefore, he is a quadraped, had a mouth like that of other quadrapeds, and finally four feet, on two of which he goes, and uses the other two for prehensive purposes.
  • It would be quite false to say that competition is the only relation that obtains between species. Mutual dependence is in general quite as important. Each kind exists within an ecosystem, and needs the others to keep the system going. Thus, grazing animals on the African plains co-exist because each specializes in eating some particular kind of plant, and needs the others to keep the whole pasture at a balanced level. They depend, too, on each other's specialized capacities to give warning of danger. … each also depends for survival on innumerable others, such as the insects which pollinate the plants, the fauna of their intestines and of course their predators. It is unthinkable that any species should be an island.
  • How infinitely superior to our physical senses are those of the mind! The spiritual eye sees not only rivers of water but of air. It sees the crystals of the rock in rapid sympathetic motion, giving enthusiastic obedience to the sun's rays, then sinking back to rest in the night. The whole world is in motion to the center.
    So also sounds. We hear only woodpeckers and squirrels and the rush of turbulent streams. But imagination gives us the sweet music of tiniest insect wings, enables us to hear, all round the world, the vibration of every needle, the waving of every bole and branch, the sound of stars in circulation like particles in the blood. The Sierra canyons are full of avalanche débris—we hear them boom again, for we read past sounds from present conditions. Again we hear the earthquake rock-falls. Imagination is usually regarded as a synonym for the unreal. Yet is true imagination healthful and real, no more likely to mislead than the coarse senses. Indeed, the power of imagination makes us infinite.
    • John Muir, "Exploring the Sequoia Belt from the Yosemite to the White River..." (Sep 1, 1875) John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir (1979) p. 226, ed. Linnie Marsh Wolfe.
  • How still the woods seem from here, yet how lively a stir the hidden animals are making; digging, gnawing, biting, eyes shining, at work and play, getting food, rearing young, roving through the underbrush, climbing the rocks, wading solitary marshes, tracing the banks of the lakes and streams! Insect swarms are dancing in the sunbeams, burrowing in the ground, diving, swimming,—a cloud of witnesses telling Nature's joy.
  • By "nationalism" I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled "good" or "bad."
  • Lead your child by the hand to the great scenes of nature; teach him on the mountain and in the valley. There he will listen better to your teaching; the liberty will give him greater force to surmount difficulties. But in these hours of liberty it should be nature that teaches rather than you. Do not allow yourself to prevail for the pleasure of success in your teaching; or to desire in the least to proceed when nature diverts him; do not take away in the least the pleasure which she offers him. Let him completely realize that it is nature that teaches, and that you, with your art, do nothing more than walk quietly at her side. When he hears a bird warble or an insect hum on a leaf, then cease your talk; the bird and the insect are teaching; your business is then to be silent.
  • A fly bit the bare pate of a bald man, who in endeavouring to crush it gave himself a hard slap. Then said the fly jeeringly, "You wanted to revenge the sting of a tiny insect with death; what will you do to yourself, who have added insult to injury?"
    • Phaedrus, Fabulae Aesopiae (c. 20 AD) Book 5, fable 3, line 1.
  • Phenomena are constantly folded back upon themselves. ...The Myself; reducing everything to the Soul-atom; making everything blossom into God; entangling all activities, from the highest to the lowest, in the obscurity of a dizzying mechanism; hanging the flight of an insect upon the movement of the earth; subordinating, perhaps, if only by the identity of the law, the eccentric evolutions of the comet in the firmament, to the whirlings of the infusoria in the drop of water.
    • Albert Pike, in Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (1871), Ch. 2 The Fellow-Craft.
  • You have to leave now, and never come back here. Have you ever heard of insect politics? Neither have I. Insects don't have politics. They're very brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first insect politician. Y'see, I'd like to, but...I'm afraid... I'm saying I-I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man, and loved it. But now the dream is over...and the insect is awake.
  • Say, will the falcon, stooping from above,
    Smit with her varying plumage, spare the dove?
    Admires the jay the insect's gilded wings?
    Or hears the hawk when Philomela sings?
  • A man is really ethical only when he obeys the constraint laid on him to help all life which he is able to succor, and when he goes out of his way to avoid injuring anything living. He does not ask how far this or that life deserves sympathy as valuable in itself, nor how far it is capable of feeling. To him life as such is sacred. He shatters no ice crystal that sparkles in the sun, tears no leaf from its tree, breaks off no flower, and is careful not to crush any insect as he walks. If he works by lamplight on a summer evening, he prefers to keep the window shut and to breathe stifling air, rather than to see insect after insect fall on his table with singed and sinking wings.
    If he goes out in to the street after a rainstorm and sees a worm which has strayed there, he reflects that it will certainly dry up in the sunshine, if it does not quickly regain the damp soil into which it can creep, and so he helps it back from the deadly paving stones into the lush grass. Should he pass by an insect which has fallen into a pool, he spares the time to reach it a leaf or stalk on which it may clamber and save itself.
    The man who has become a thinking being feels a compulsion to give every will-to-live the same reverence for life that he gives to his own. He experiences that other life in his own.
    • Albert Schweitzer, Kulturphilosophie (1923) Tr. C. T. Campion, Philosophy of Civilisation (1949)
  • Little minds mistake little objects for great ones, and lavish away upon the former that time and attention which only the latter deserve. To such mistakes we owe the numerous and frivolous tribe of insect-mongers, shell-mongers, and pursuers and driers of butterflies, etc. The strong mind distinguishes, not only between the useful and the useless, but likewise between the useful and the curious.
  • They tell you what it's ingredients are, and how it's guaranteed to exterminate every insect in the world, but they do not tell you whether or not it's painless. And I say, insect or man, death should always be painless.
  • To a first approximation, all multicellular species on earth are insects.
    • N. E. Stork, "Biodiversity: world of Insects," Nature 448, 657-658 (Aug 9, 2007)
  • In ancient times, the sacred Plough employ'd
    The Kings and awful Fathers of mankind:
    And some, with whom compared your insect-tribes
    Are but the beings of a summer's day,
    Have held the Scale of Empire, ruled the Storm
    Of mighty War; then, with victorious hand,
    Disdaining little delicacies, seized
    The Plough, and, greatly independent, scorned
    All the vile stores corruption can bestow.
  • The blue distance, the mysterious Heavens, the example of birds and insects flying everywhere —are always beckoning Humanity to rise into the air.
  • Everything is important. To the smallest insect, even the mouldering tree, the deepest stone in the drift that made you cry.
  • It seems that scientists are often attracted to beautiful theories in the way that insects are attracted to flowers — not by logical deduction, but by something like a sense of smell.
  • No insect hangs its nest on threads as frail as those which will sustain the weight of human vanity; and the sense of being of importance among the insignificant was enough to restore to Miss Bart the gratifying consciousness of power.
  • It's estimated that by 2050 the world will be home to nine billion people, meaning current food production will need to almost double.
    As the population grows, there's been a real push to look at sources of food - particularly protein - other than your traditional meat and fish.
    Eating insects is said to be one way of meeting this challenge because they are environmentally sustainable, nutritious and can be harvested relatively cheaply and easily in the right conditions.

See also

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