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The earliest evidence of man's interest in insects is from rock paintings. The
insects depicted are bees.
1800-1700 B.C. The Bees of Malia: two golden bees holding a drop of
Bees were significant in other early civilisations, for instance
at Malia, Crete, where jewellery depicts two golden bees
holding a drop of honey.
Egypt, Greek and Roman
Scarab Beetle painted on
wall of Rameses IX tomb c. 1000 BC.
Bee-keeping was particularly well developed
in Egypt and was discussed by the Roman writers Virgil, Gaius Julius Hyginus, Varro and Columella.
620–560 B.C. Aesop's Fables relate stories of
grasshoppers, ants and other insects.
1061 Shen Kuo described the role of predatory
insects in protecting crops from insect pests.
- Konrad of Megenberg Buch der
Natur. The first natural history in the German language.The
section "Von den Würmen". Written in 1350, Buch der Natur was first
printed in moveable type in 1475. NCSU Libraries owns a fragment of
the fourth describes insects --both real and imaginary-- and
Crivelli draws an association between flies and death in a
painting of the Madonna and Child.
Portrait de Conrad Gessner
Aldrovandi’s Animalibus insectis libri septem, cum
singulorum iconibus AD vivum expressis published. This work
was devoted to the insects and some other invertebrates.
Hoefnagel Diversae Insectarum Volatium icones ad vivum
accuratissimè depictae per celeberrimum pictorem. (Amsterdam),
Nicolao Ioannis Visscher.
- Joannes Jonstonus Theatrum Universale
Omnium Animalium: Insectorum, Tabulis Viginti Octo ab Illo
Celeberrimo Mathia Meriano, Aeri Incisis Ornatum ex Scriptoribus
tam Antiquis, Quam Recentioribus - Heilbrunnensis: Franciscus
Iosephus Eckebrecht, 1757 (Heilbrunnensis : Ioh. Adami
Sigmundi): a compilation of Konrad Gesner’s
(1516-1565) and Ulisse Aldrovandi’s (1522-1605)
natural histories but plates engraved by Matthäus
1662 — (Between 1662 and 1667)
- Jan Goedart
publishes Metamorphosis and historia naturalis
illustrating, by copper plate engravings, the metamorphosis of various insects.
Robert Hooke's microscope
1664 Robert Hooke publishes Micrographia.
- Erasmus Finx
Erasmi Francisci Ost- und West- Indischer wie auch Sinesischer
Lust- und Stats-garten mit Einem Vorgespräch von Mancherley
Lustigen Discursen; in Drey Haupt-theile Unterschieden.
Nürnberg In verlegung J. A. Endters und Wolfgang dess jüngern sel.
- Johann Daniel Major Catalogus
oder Index Alphabeticus von Kunst, Antiquitäten, Schatz und
fürnehmlich Naturalien-Kammern, Conclavia, Musea, Repositoria, oder
auch nur kleinere Serinia Rerum Naturalium Selectorum, Kiel:
outlines a collection strategy for museums and lists
- Bohuslav Balbín begins Miscellanea
historica regni Bohemiae with Liber naturalis – the Nature of
Bohemia which contains notes on insects.
- Jan Goedart Wikisite in French
publishes De Insectis, in methodum redactus, cum notularum
additione. Opera M.Lister; item appendicis ad historiam Animalium
- Anton Leeuenhoek publishes Arcana
Blankaart Schou-Burg der Rupsen, Wormen, Maden en Vliegende
Dierkens daar uit voortkomende.Door eigen ondervindinge by een
gebragt in English Showplace of caterpillars, worms, maggots
and flying things published in Amsterdam
Flea drawn by Buonanni (1691).
Observationes circa Viventia, quae in Rebus non
Viventibus an important work.
1696 — (from 1696 to 1700)
- Antonio Vallisneri’s Dialoghi
will sopra the curiosa Origine di molti Insetti, in English,
"Dialogues on the curious origin of several insects", in which he,
Redi and Malpighi, contradicts the theory of spontaneous
generation of maggots.
René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur.
The development of entomology in the 18th
In the 18th century three kinds of entomological text appeared.
Firstly there were illustrative works — showy insects often
beautifully coloured whose purpose was sensual. An example is
afforded by Maria von
Merian's Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamenis
Secondly were descriptive and systematic (classificatory) works usually
confined to what are now known as the Insecta.Of the second kind
Carl von Linne's Systema Naturae published in 1758 at
Uppsala stands proud. In this work the binomial system was finally
Thirdly were works on developmental biology (life
cycles), internal anatomy,
physiology and so on.
These often covered other invertebrate groups. An example is René Antoine Ferchault de
Réaumur's Memoires pour Servir a L’Historie des
Petiver publishes a celebrated butterfly work Lepidoptera
of the Philippine Islands.
- 1702 is also the date of the world's oldest pinned insect
specimen; a Bath White
butterfly preserved in Oxford University
- Maria Sybilla Merian Metamorphosis
Insectorum Surinamenis (Transformations of the insects of
Surinam) published by G. Valck in Amsterdam. It is a masterpiece of both art
and science and Maria Merian, "the mother of entomology", was the
first to record the full life cycle of many species of butterflies
- John Ray publishes
- John Ray publishes
Historia insectorum in English, Study of Insects. This is
the first attempt at a systematic classification of insect
- Francois Xavier Bon de Saint Hilaire writes
on the use of spider silk as a
textile. This was the first such research.
Petiver publishes a book on British butterflies entitled
- Mark Catesby
publishes part one of The Natural History of Carolina, Florida
and the Bahama Islands.
- Scientist René Antoine Ferchault de
Réaumur publishes the first Mémoires pour Servir à
L’Histoire des Insectes in English, "Memoirs Serving as a
Natural History of Insects". This is a founding work of entomology,
and one of the most important of all zoological works of the 18th
- Microscopist Jan Swammerdam's
Biblia naturae or "Book of Nature" is reissued. Describing
his studies of insects, it is a founding work of entomology.
K’Eogh publishes Zoologica Medicinalis Hibernica, in
English, "Zoological Medicine in Ireland".
Christian Fabricius (1745–1808) is born. Fabricius worked on
all insect orders.
Bonnet published his first work on entomology. Entitled
Traité d'insectologie, it collected together his various
discoveries regarding insects.
- Georg Dionysus Ehret publishes first part
of Plantae et Papiliones Depictae.
- James Dutfield publishes English Moths and
Wilkes publishes English Moths and Butterflies.
Leclerc, Comte de Buffon Histoire naturelle, générale et
particulière (1749–1788) commenced— 36 volumes and 8
additional volumes published after his death by Bernard Germain Étienne comte de La
Ville-sur-Illon La Cépède.Until the publication of this
encyclopedia it was thought that all animals were created together
by God about 6,000 years ago. Not only did this 44 volume
encyclopedia contain all biological knowledge of its time, it
offered a different theory. 100 years before Darwin, Buffon claimed
that man and ape might have a common ancestor. His work also had
significant impact on ecology.
- Tenth edition of Carolus Linnaeus
Naturae published. World explorers brought back to Europe
so many exotic plant and animal specimens that chaos loomed for the
18th-century naturalists attempting to identify, classify, and
communicate what they had gathered. Linnaeus made a great
contribution to science by developing systems of classification to organize these processes.
His principles of organization, especially his system of binomial nomenclature, provided
essential tools for entomology. The tenth edition (1758–59), was
chosen as the starting point for zoological
Johann Christian Schreber
- Naturalist and engraver Pieter Lyonnet
publishes a monograph on the goat-moth caterpillar, containing details
and illustrations of dissections. It is one of the best illustrated
books on anatomy ever produced and describes over 4,000
Hübner (1761–1826) born. Jacob Hübner was the first great world
lepidopterist. Before Hübner it was held that there were few genera
of Lepidoptera, a
view he overthrew. His definitions of genera are among the best of the time and so were
- Christiaan Sepp publishes
Nederlandische Insecten, in English, "Dutch insects".
- Giovanni Antonio Scopoli
publishes Entomologica Carniolica.
- Johann Wilhelm Meigen (1763–1845)
born. Meigen began to work on Diptera at the age of twenty five.
The first specialist in Diptera Meigen described a vast number of
European species and his work on gross taxonomy laid the
foundations of the present higher classification of the Order. Unlike
his Swedish contemporary Carl Friedrich Fallen he based higher
categories on a combination of characters not following Fabricius
in using mouthpart characters alone. This new approach was
- Carl Friedrich Fallen (1764–1830) born. Johann Christian
Fabricius attended Linnaeus’s lectures on natural classification.
He was one of Linnaeus' most important pupils.
- Étienne Louis Geoffroy published
Histoire des Insectes.
Plate 1 Schaeffer, Jacob Christian (1766) Elementa
- Moses Harris
publishes The Aurelian or Natural History of English
Insects, namely Moths and Butterflies. This was the first book
on the British Lepidoptera. Harris was a pioneer in using wing
venation in insect systematics. A more modern revision did not
appear until 1803.
- Johann Reinhold Forster
publishes A Catalogue of British Insects at Warrington, England —
“This catalogue contains 1000 insects; the Swedes have near 1700,
it would therefore be an honour to this country to scrutinize
carefully into the various branches of Natural History, and to give
the public as perfect and extensive catalogues of British Animals
- Dru Drury, 1770–1782
Illustrations of natural history, wherein are exhibited figures
of exotic insects, a three-volume work commenced at
- Christian Rudolph
Wilhelm Wiedemann (1770–1840) born. He was a specialist in Diptera
- Johann Reinhold Forster produces first list of American
- John Coakley Lettsome The naturalist's
and traveler's companion, containing instructions for collecting
and preserving objects of natural history and for promoting
inquiries after human knowledge in general, London: E. and C.
Dilly (1774): a much used work on collecting.
- First part of Pieter Cramer's 1775–82 De
Uitlandische Kapellen (Papillons Exotiques de Trois Partes de
- Johann Christian Fabricius' Systema entomologica
1776 Otto Friedrich Müller published
Zoologiae Danicae Prodromus.
Eugen Johann Christoph Esper.
- Jacob Christian Schäffer
Icones insectorum circa ratisbonam indigenorum coloribus
naturam referentibus expressaepublished.
- Encyclopédie Méthodique
commenced. Its popularity and ubiquity later ensuring the
entomological tableau which appeared from 1817 onwards had
a wide audience.
Bjerkander Insect-Calender, för år 1781. Kongliga
Vetenskaps Academiens Nya Handlingar 3 (4-6): 122-132.
- Publication, in Berlin, of
Gustav Jablonsky and Johann Friedrich Wilhelm
Herbst Natursystem aller bekannten in- und ausländischen
Insecten, als eine Fortzetsung der von Büffonschen Naturgeschichte.
Nach dem System des Ritters Carl von Linné bearbeitet or, in
English, "Natural system of all well-known in [Europe] and foreign
Insects, as a continuation of Buffon’s natural history. After the
system of the honoured master, Carl von Linné". This is a superbly
illustrated work on world and European Coleoptera. Jablonsky
was private secretary to the Queen of
Wilhelm Zetterstedt (1785–1874) born. Zetterstedt worked mainly
- Antoine François, comte
de Fourcroy Entomologia Parisiensis, sive, Catalogus insectorum
quae in agro Parisiensi reperiuntur ..., co-written with Étienne Louis Geoffroy,
published in this year, was a major contribution to systematic
- Linnean Society of London
founded. The Society published many important works on
- Caspar Stoll Representation des Spectres ou Phasmes, des
Mantes...Sauterelles des Grillons et des Blattes published.
This work contains beautiful plates of praying mantis
- Guillaume-Antoine Olivier
Entomologie ou Histoire Naturelle des Insectes, avec leurs
Caracteres Generiques et Specifiques, leur Description, leur
Synonomie et leur Figure Illuminee. Coleopteres. commenced
publication in Paris. The first volumes preceded Latreille's in
time and the system used was a combination of Linne and
- Johann Wilhelm Meigen commences
study of Diptera.
- Johann Jacob Roemer Genera
Insectorum Linnaei et Fabricii, Iconibus Illustrata
Peter Thunberg Dissertatio Entomologica Novas Insectorum
species sistens, cujus partem quintam. Publico examini subjicit
Johannes Olai Noraeus, Uplandus. Upsaliae published.
- Johann Kaspar Füssli Neue
Magazin für Liebhaber der Entomologie (last part 1786).
- John Curtis (1791–1862)
- Johann Ludwig Christ publishes
Naturgeschichte, Klassifikation und Nomenklatur der Insekten
vom Bienen, Wespen und Ameisengeschlecht.
Plate from Johann Ludwig Christ Naturgeschichte, Klassifikation
und Nomenklatur der Insekten vom Bienen
- The Dublin Society purchases the
natural history collection of Nathaniel Gottfried Leske
containing 2,500 species of insects from Europe and the “rest of
the World”. The sale catalogue was titled Museum Leskeanum.
Pars entomologica ad systema entomologiae. CL. Fabreicii ordinata
etc. Leske was from Leipzig and the collection contained
Christian Fabricius’ and Johann Friedrich Gmelin's types as well
as his own.
Donovan The Natural history of British Insects
commenced publication in London.
- Josef Aloys Frölich, Bemerkungen
über einige seltene Käfer aus der Insektensammlung des Herrn Hofr.
und Prof. Rudolph in Erlangen. Der Naturforscher 26:
- John Abbot and James Edward
Smith The Natural History of the Rarer Lepidoptera of
Georgia. A masterwork with than 100 beautifully coloured
- Pierre André Latreille.
Precis des Caracteres Generiques des Insectes disposes dans un
Ordre Naturel published. It proposed “ Natural classes and
genera are based not only on the mouthparts, the wings or the
antennae, but on careful observation of the entire structure, even
of the smallest differences”.
- Jean Victoire Audouin (1797–1841)