Entomology is the scientific study of insects. Insects have many kinds of interactions with humans and other forms of life on earth, so it is an important specialty within biology; unlike many other fields however, entomologists include both persons studying insects for their own sake, and those employed by commercial concerns interested in the control of insects.
The definition is sometimes widened to include the study of other terrestrial arthropods, such as spiders.
History of entomology
Many entomologists are employed in the study of insects that are directly beneficial or harmful to humans. The study of beneficial insects, such as honeybees and silkworms, is primarily focused on their ecology and life habits, the primary concern being the understanding of how to raise them and make them more productive.
Conversely, much of the study of harmful insects is focussed on their physiology, with the goal of developing insect controls that are effective while minimizing undesirable side effects. For instance, many type of insecticides have been developed that target unique aspects of insect internals and are thus harmless to other kinds of animals, but these can also kill beneficial insects. Considerable recent effort have gone into finding biological controls such as species-specific parasites and diseases, as well as genetic controls , such as the introduction of sterile insects into a population.
Forensic entomology is the study of insects that scavenge on corpses; knowledge of their habits can yield useful information about crimes, such as an approximate time of death or whether or not a victim was alive during a fire, using facts such as what stage of the life cycle the insect/bug is in, et cetera.
Many entomologists specialize in a single order or even a family of insects, and a number of these subspecialties have their own names, derived from the scientific name of the group:
Like other scientific specialties, entomologists have a number of local, national, and international organizations. There are also many organizations specializing in specific subareas.
Last updated: 08-04-2005 16:53:02