Entomology (Redirected from Entomologist)

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

Entomology (from Ancient Greek ἔντομον (entomon) 'insect', and -λογία (-logia) 'study') 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.

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


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, 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. 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. In 1705, Maria Sibylla Merian published the book Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium about the tropical insects of Dutch Surinam.

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.

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), and twice Pulitzer Prize winner E. O. Wilson.

There has also been a history of people becoming entomologists through museum curation and research assistance, 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

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).


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:


"The butterfly catcher", painting by Carl Spitzweg


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

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




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


United States


See also

This page was last updated at 2024-04-17 15:50 UTC. Update now. View original page.

All our content comes from Wikipedia and under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.


If mathematical, chemical, physical and other formulas are not displayed correctly on this page, please useFirefox or Safari