Cultural Entomology by Dr. Charles Hogue
Reproduced, with permission, from the Annual Review of Entomology,
Vol 32, copyright; 1987 by Annual Reviews Inc.
Dr. Hogue’s article includes definitions, literature and language, music and the performing arts, graphic and plastic arts, interpretive history, philosophy, religion and folklore, recreation and curiousities, ethnoentomology, species of special cultural significance, conclusion, and acknowledgements.
Dr. Hogue contributed much to the field of cultural entomology. His definitive work, entitled “Cultural Entomology,” was published in the 1987 Annual Review of Entomology. This work exposed the full scope of subjects included within the fields of cultural entomology and made available a fabulous bibliographic listing.
Humans spend their intellectual energies in three basic areas of activity: surviving, using practical learning (the application of technology); seeking pure knowledge through inductive mental processes (science); and pursuing enlightenment to taste a pleasure by aesthetic exercises that may be referred to as the “humanities.” Entomology has long been concerned with survival (economic or applied entomology) and scientific study (academic entomology), but the branch of investigation that addresses the influence of insects (and other terrestrial Arthropoda, including arachnids, myriapods, etc) in literature, language, music, the arts, interpretive history, religion, and recreation has only recently been recognized as a distinct field. This is referred to as “cultural entomology”.
Because the term “cultural” is narrowly defined, some aspects normally included in studies of human societies are excluded. Thus ethnoentomology, which is concerned with all forms of insect- human interactions in so-called primitive societies, is not synonymous with cultural entomology. For this reason, entomophagy as practiced to complete the regular diet of an Indian tribe is considered applied entomology and is not covered here; however, where entomophagy occurs for recreation or ceremonial reasons, it assumes a place in the subject of this paper. Likewise, pharmacological, manufacturing, or other wholly practical uses of insects, even though unusual, such as applications in forensic science, are not part of the subject. The narrative history of the science of entomology is not part of cultural entomology, while the influence of insects on general history would be considered cultural entomology.
Insects have assumed a position of unusually great significance for certain ethnic assemblages or nations. To the ancient Egyptians and neighboring cultures, various insects were revered; in particular, several species of dung scarab (Phaeniini, Coprini) rose in religious and symbolic importance early in history. This is witnessed by the prevalence and persistence (approximately 2200 BC to New Kingdom times, circa 1000 BC and later) of scarab imagery in worship and funeral ceremony.
The Japanese have highly developed tradition of aesthetic appreciation for insects reflected in their literature, art, and recreational pursuits. This has attracted some sensitive commentary by a few authors, especially Hearn and Kevan. Much of the same could be said of the Chinese, who hold crickets and other musical Orthoptera in particularly high esteem.
Few authors have treated the subject of cultural entomology in general terms. Literature is sparse and is not referenced to this subject in bibliographies. Information is often oriented geographically or is included in extradisciplinary works, especially works on history, iconography, classics, and anthropology. Because cultural aspects often intersect other insect-related topics, examples are sometimes to be found within literature dealing with entomological history, the entomological impact on human welfare, or taxonomy of specific groups (see below, Species of Special Cultural Significance).
The subject is popular with entomologists from around the world. Almost 70 persons are listed in a recent directory of investigators (C. L. Hogue unpublished). The first colloquium on cultural entomology took place at the 17th International Congress of Entomology in Hamburg in 1984, and at that time a list was drawn up of the fields of study comprising the subject. Although some overlap occurs, these topics are used as an outline for the following discussion.
LITERATURE AND LANGUAGE
Insects appear frequently in literature. G. J. Umphrey & C. L. Hogue (unpublished) have collected some 100 titles of modern novels and almost as many short stories in English with fictional plots in which insects have a major role. Insects are useful for establishing a variety of moods or images, both negative (more usual) or favorable. Among the former are many legitimately injurious or dangerous qualities, such as the ability to entrap Woman in the Dunes, K. Abé, poisonous stings The Furies, K. Roberts, rapaciousness Bugged, D. Glut, and swarming instinct The Swarm, A. Hertzog. Thus, they provide foundations for many tales of fantasy Leinigen versus the Ants, C. Stephenson and intrigue The Gold Bug, E. A. Poe, but are most abundant in science fiction, either as conjured earthly villains Bugs, T. Roszak or space monsters Bug Wars, R. Asprin. Because they are capable of delivering lethal toxins, some species have been employed as murder weapons in detective novels; honeybee in A Taste for Honey, G. Heard. Others with intimate microhabitats act as voyeurs and relate erotic tales The Fly, R. Chopping; Autobiography of a Flea, Anonymous. Several stories play on the metamorphosis theme, with humans assuming insect characteristics to a limited Spider Girl, P. Lear or consuming degree Metamorphosis, F. Kafka.
Positive attributes ascribed to insects and spider, such as patience or industriousness, are the basis for a variety of proverbs and parables; this is true of several among Aesop’s Fables (e.g. against arrogance: “A fly sitting on a chariot wheel said, What a dust I raise! “) . Some insects with especially likable traits, such as musical talent (Jiminy Cricket, “grigs” (an old term for orthopteroid insects, revived by Kevan) or high intelligence archy the cockroach, the lives and times of arch and mehatibel, D. Marquis, have even become famous literary figures. A cute, rotund form speaks a message of friendliness and good humor, and little round beetles, bumblebees, woolly caterpillars, and fat spiders are written of as insect friends Charlotte’s Web, E. White.
Parallels between human and insect societies provide a foundation for interplay between two life forms Consider Her Ways, F. Grove. The size disparity problem is solved either by magically shrinking the human Atta, F. Bellamy or enlarging the insect Empire of the Ants, H. G. Wells. As teachers, humanized insects are common in children’s literature, often because they provide an amiable, impartial narrator of actor within which the child can identify James and the Giant Peach, R. Dahl. Hogue “Bugfolk,” Terra. 1979 referred to such hexapod characters as “bugfolk”; an example is the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland L. Carroll. Some bugfolk have become modern day folk heroes (Spiderman) or villains (Mothra).
Bee societies formed the basis for simile in a political satire against governmental hypocrisy in 18th century England (“The Fable of the Bees, or Private Vices Made Public Benefits,” Bernard Mandeville, 1723). Other examples of political and social satire employing insects, among several cited by Kevan, are “The Spider and the Fly,” an enormously long English poem published in 1556 by John Heywood (Protestant versus Roman Catholic Church), and “The Locust,” written by an anonymous author in 1704 (an attack on the legal profession of the day).
Insect images appear as frequently in poetry as in prose. The ancient Greeks often referred to them as symbolically and aesthetically, as did the Romans. Shakespeare played on many in his works, as did Dante in the Divine Comedy. Many other poets have been inspired by insects as well; Some better known poems with insect titles are, “To a Louse,” by Robert Burns; “To-day, this Insect, and the World I Breath,” by Dylan Thomas; “The Beetle,” by James Whitcomb Riley; and “To a Butterfly, the Redbreast an Butterfly,” by William Wordsworth. Japanese poetry, particularly haiku, commonly incorporates insect allusions. One of the shortest poems ever written was about insects: “Ugh-Bugh!” (D. K. McE. Kevan).
Local names and folk taxonomies often reflect cultural beliefs. Several lists may be consulted: Anglo-Saxon or Old English, Australian, German, Tibetan, Latin American, and Hellenistic. Insect forms were converted into hieroglyphs and pictograms in ancient Egypt (scarab, bee, and grasshopper syllables in alphabet), Mayan, and Chinese writing.
In all languages, numerous insects or their names have been enlisted as figures of speech (“social butterfly”), which are extended into oft-used sayings, epigrams, and like (“Busy as a bee,” “Don’t bug me,” “What is good for the bee is not good for the swarm”). All manner of manufactured and commercial objects bear insect names. Many cocktails (“Grasshopper”) or other drinks are so named, sometimes to suggest special potency (“Stinger”) or distinctive flavor (“Bee’s kiss”). Even English pubs and automobiles have insect epithets.
MUSIC AND THE PERFORMING ARTS
Insects have invaded the world of music to a considerable degree, with composers seizing on various attributes to convey a mood or message. The rapid vibrato of “The Flight of the Bumblebee” (Rimsky-Korsakov) imitates the buzz of the bee; the light of the firefly shines as a beacon to love in “Glow-worm;” and butterflies impart airiness, transience, and frivolity in “Poor Butterfly.” The inspiration is less obvious in familiar songs such as “La Cucaracha,” “The Boll Weevil,” and “The Blue-tailed Fly” and unsung ditties like “Grasshopper Rock” and “Stompin the Bug.”
As direct emitters of pleasant sounds, stridulating types have long been esteemed by different cultures. Crickets and Katydids are still kept in cages to fill the house with cheerful chirps in Oriental countries and were once a passion of many Hamburgers.
The insect has been going on stage for more than two millennia. Since Aristophanes produced “Sphe-ces,” or “The Wasps” in 422BC, a number of dramas have utilized metaphorical bugs, such as Jean Paul Sartre’s “The Fly” and Karel and Josef Capek’s “Ze Zivota Hmyzu” (“On the Life of Insects,” or “Insects Comedy”). Some insects have reached more elegant heights in operas (“Madame Butterfly,” Puccini) and ballet (“Le Festin de L’Araignée,” Rousel). (Ritual dances inspired by insects are discussed under Religion and Folklore below.) The cinema and television films are rife with insect villains (army ants in “Naked Jungle,” Paramount, 1954) and with a few comedic and heroic stars as well.
GRAPHIC AND PLASTIC ARTS
Artists have exploited the insect form in all media. Because of their pleasing colors and curious shapes, many types, especially butterflies and metallic beetles, have been used directly for ornamentation. They have also served as models for decorative jewelry, ceramics, textile designs, and a huge variety of other objects from prehistoric, historic, antique, and modern periods. Serving trays, ashtrays, and scenic montages made from the wings of butterflies (especially from the genus Morpho in South America) are familiar decorative objects, and insects are on the postage stamps of many countries.
Some particularly fine decorative pieces with insect designs are coveted art treasures; examples are the “Cretan Hornets” (Minoan gold pectoral with a pair of wasps) an solid gold fly pendants (“Order of the Golden Fly”) found in the funeral cache of Queen Ahotpe, an 18th-Dynasty ancestor of Tutankhamen.
Insects abound in pictorial arts. They provided motifs for Neolithic artists etching on bone and rendering on rock: numerous insects are depicted in prehistoric petroglyphs and pictographs in Europe, South Africa, and North America. One of the enormous figures laid out on the desert plains of southern Peru by the Nazca Culture (300BC-900AD) is a spider.
Many portrayals of insects appear in early European Christian religious art as universal symbols. Among such symbols are bees (mother: “Mary symbols”), bee hives (the church: “Madonna in the Garden,” Mathias Grünewald, 1517/1519), the stag beetle (evil: “The Virgin with a Multitude of Animals,” Albrecht Dürer, 1503), flies (torment: “The Damnation of Lovers,” Mathias Grünewald), and scorpions (pain: many depictions of Saint Jerome in Penitence). A special significance is attached to lepidopterans (symbolized by the goddess Psyche) as signatures of the soul (and hence life after death, change, rebirth) and love. For these reasons they sometimes appear in religious scenes (e.g. Albrecht Dürer’s “The Virgin of the Irises”). Accordingly, butterfly or moth wings occasionally give powers of flight to some angelic forms (e.g. cupids) and often to fairies and nymphs. The historic prototype for the biblical cherubs however, may have been dung beetles.
Insect symbols are personal hallmarks of the works of a few famous contemporary artists such as the surrealist Salvador Dali (grasshopper, groupings of ants, and formations of muscoid flies) and Wolfgang Hutter (butterflies).
Because of their inherently provocative forms, odd species provide the principle themes in many paintings by other well-known western artists, such as Graham Sutherland (aquatint series on “The Bees),” an in drawings and engravings of M. C. Escher (“Möbius Band”), James Ensor (“Odd Insects”), Odilon Redon (“The Spider”), and many others of lesser fame. In illuminated medieval manuscript, border decorations and elaborate initials were often patterned after insects.
Images of bugfolk are common. Some of the earliest are fantastic insectoids demons in paintings by Hieronymus Bosch (“The Last Judgement,” details of fallen angel, 1504) and Pieter Brueghel (“Fall of the Angels,” 1562); these apparently spawned a style that was followed by a series of later illustrators, among them Martin Disteli, Jean I. I. Gerard, “Grandville” (“Adventures d’un papillon” in “Scènes de la vie privée et publique des animaux,” 1842), and Alan Aldridge (“Magician Moth” in the 1975 Grossman version of “The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper Feast”).
Some of their alien characteristics, include antennae, bulbous and facetted eyes, articulated bodies, armored exterior, and biting mouthparts, have made insects favorite prototypes for the design of dream monsters, extraterrestrial creatures, and even spacecraft by fantasy artists. Numerous examples appear on the cover of science fiction novels, on posters, and in cartoons.
Sculpture also utilizes insect motifs and symbolism. Best known from history is the frequent appearance of Psyche (represented by lepidopteran figures) on stone carvings of scarabs from classic Egypt and on Roman sarcophagi. Several contemporary artists working in metal, plastics, and other modern materials have specialized in entomological themes.
Insects and arachnid products have even served as art media. Paintings have been made on cobwebs. Wax from both Apis and the tropical meliponine bees, has been used to fashion lone figures and positive images for the “lost wax” casting technique practiced by Old World and Incan metallurgists. Lacquer made from lac insects has wide application in Oriental art.
For their symbolic value, insects also appear with regularity on seals, coins, and heraldic and other emblems. Napoleon I replaced the fleur-de-lis with the honeybee as the Bourbon family emblem, and its image was displayed on all manner of surfaces in the royal palace and on the Napoleonic coat of arms. Twenty of the United States have designated state insects along with state flowers, trees, and birds: most have chosen the honeybee, a sign of industry and sovereignty.
Advertising art frequently makes use of insect images to convey overt or subliminal messages about products by capitalizing on widespread attitudes, either negative (cockroaches as bearers of filth) or favorable (beautiful, freshness, and airiness of butterflies). It is curious that insects depicted in art often bear only two pair of legs.
Insects have generally influenced human history, principally by forcing shifts in pivotal events. Battles have been lost, expeditions foiled, and populations decimated through the direct involvement of insects, usually as carriers of disease.
Insect products have also helped to determine the direction of civilization’s march. It could be said that the Chinese Empire was largely founded on the silk trade. Commerce in dyestuffs derived from the bodies of the cochineal insect reached global proportions by the 18th century, and proved so lucrative that the insect and its cactus host were introduced to various parts of the world from their native America. In the adopted countries the plant spread and became a noxious weed that rendered vast tracts of land unusable. Trade in other insect products such as honey and shellac has had similar economic significance. The Israelite band that founded the Jewish nation survived on “manna” during its extended trek through the Sinai Desert. This nutritious substance is thought to have been extruded by scale insects on the tamarisk plant.
There are anecdotes of a number of other ways in which insects have crept into our affairs. A moth is supposed to have prevented an accident to a train on which Queen Victoria was riding. Several important personages were aided in difficult times and inspired to lofty deeds by insects and spiders. The Chinese inventor of paper, Ts’ai Lun (89-106AD), according to legend, was shown the process by wasps making their nests by chewing tree bark and mixing it with their saliva.
The insect is commonly considered a low form of life that deserves only contempt, but it is justifiable to contemplate the rightful relationships between humans and insects. Most of what has been written in this context deals with the direct competition between insects and humans for food and fiber and the human suffering that results from insect-borne diseases. Another favorite thesis is the comparison of insect and human societies. Our comparatively shaky dominion of nature has also been a theme (e.g. in the motion picture “The Helstrom Chronicles,” David Wolper, 1971), and the insect is pointed to as the most likely form to inherit the earth after our own presumed demise. A few authors have tried to look at the world through insect eyes (Benjamin Franklin, “Soliloquy of a venerable Ephemera who had lived four hundred and twenty minutes”), and there is some appreciation of insects as friends and teachers. This is a generally neglected area, however.
RELIGION AND FOLKLORE
Animalistic religious practices based on insects have been an important part of the culture of many groups. From the ancient world the best known example is the scarab cult of the Egyptians. Evidence in the form of scarab amulets dominates the archaeological records of those worshippers. Insect gods and goddesses assumed various roles in the religions of the Aztecs (Xochiquetzal, butterfly goddess), Greek (Artemis was Mylitta, the mother or bee goddess), Chinese (TschunWan, insect lord over crop pests), and Babylonians (scorpion men). The Hopi personify several insect spirits (Butterfly Man, Assassin Fly, etc.) in the form of Kachina dolls. In Bushman mythology, the mantis is an important god of creation, Kaggen. The insect deities are served with a variety of rites and rituals; for example, youthful initiates are scourged by stinging ants in puberty ceremonies among various Amazonian Indian tribes (“tucandeira” (Dynoponera spp.) rituals).
Within the context of Judaism and Christianity, insects have had no small role. Although most of the numerous references to insects in the Bible are historical, some are allegorical or reflect deep theological meaning (e.g. stinging locusts in Revelation 9:3-11;113). Of the ten plagues visited upon Egypt preceding the exodus, three were insects and two or three others may have had entomological connections. In the Talmudic literature, locusts are included among the disasters for which the sounding of the ram’s horn and a public feast were prescribed in the Ta’anit tractate (Section 3:5). The locust plague theme is favored by many religious artists.
Curious applications of entomology in the Christian religion were the exorcisms and animal trials performed by the Roman Catholic Church in medieval and even later times. Because animals, including insects, were supposed to possess human qualities, even a soul, they were held accountable for their misdeeds and were subject to divine control and excommunication.
Involvements of insects in other major world religions (Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism) have been relatively unexplored by entomologists. The spider sitting in the center of the web is a spinner of illusion and reminds Hindus of maya, the supernatural force behind the creation of the transient world. Hindu holy writings also teach that ants are divine, the first born of the world, ritually the anthill represents the earth.
Entomological references in folklore (legends, beliefs, fairy tales) abound, but they are generally ensconced in the anthropological literature and are therefore not easily located by the entomologist. There are no general reviews or collections of insect-based folktales, although a few limited treatises are available.
Many classical myths, legends, and beliefs are related to insects. The Roman goddess Psyche is portrayed with wings and represents rebirth and metamorphosis to a higher state. Butterflies and chrysalis are found in earlier Minoan iconography (“Ring of Nestor”), but the question of the age and origin of the symbolism is unsettled. Lilith, Adam’s first wife and begetter of flies and demons, originated in Assyria-Babylon and makes her way into Mohammedan and Jewish books. In a variant of the story of the aging of Tithonus, consort of Eos, he is turned into a cicada. Early natural historians told about the ant-lion (“myrmicoleon”), a giant ant that resembled a dog with lion’s feet and dug for gold; it is portrayed in early bestiaries, sometimes in mongrel form with partial human anatomy. Other hybrids are the “scorpion men” (human torso-legs/scorpion abdomen-tail) from second millennium Mesopotamia and neighboring times and places.
Other myths originated in European countries and were carried by emigrants to colonies in America and other continents as folktales of almost infinite variety. An exemplary and widespread folkloric theme is “telling the bees” when a death occurs in a beekeeper’s family. The insects are believed to respond sympathetically by attending the funeral or absconding.
One arachnid, the scorpion, comprises the eighth of the normal twelve signs of the Zodiac (“Scorpio”). A second, the spider, is considered by some astrologers to represent the thirteenth sign (“Arachne”) that became lost.
Folklore and superstitions involving insects are perhaps more prevalent in indigenous or traditional cultures than among industrialized societies. Every group has its repertoire, with common themes running across cultural lines. Many creation myths involve insects: The Hopis explained the origin of the world by the actions of the Spider Grandmother; According to the Yagua Indians of Peru the Amazon River was created by the wood-eating insects; and fire came from a mythical campfire ignited by fireflies, according to the Jicarilla Apaches of New Mexico.
Involvement of insects in magic and witchcraft is surprisingly infrequent considering the venomous and metamorphic powers of so many types. A few species are thought to be deadly poisonous, such that even the slightest contact with them can cause instant or lingering, agonizing death (e.g. Fulgora in tropical America). One such species described by the earlier explorers of the New World remains unidentified. A variety of interesting prophylaxes and remedies are employed against these imaginary assassins. A few species have supposed or real hallucinogenic or aphrodesiacal powers if ingested, which give them a place in folk ritual.
Insects and their products, especially honey from the many species of wild and domestic bees, are employed often in folk healing. The word “medicine” owes its origin to honey; the first syllable has the same root as “mead,” an alcoholic beverage made from honeycomb, which was often consumed as an elixir. Cockroaches, lice, bedbugs (“wall lice”), beetles, and galls have also been used as medicines. As treatment for scorpion stings, village curanderos in the mountains of western Mexico tie a dead scorpion to the finger that has just been stung.
RECREATION AND CURIOSITIES
Insects are the butt of many a joke or cartoon. Several kinds are kept as unusual, or educational pets. Some are kept for their pleasant sounds. Toys are modeled after insects, such as the familiar snapping “cricket” noisemakers and all manner of mechanical bugs. Other playthings may actually incorporate living insects, including Mexican jumping beans or “fly-powered” airplanes. Insects have inspired diversionary pursuits, particularly in the Orient, where kites, bull-roarers, and other noisemakers of entomological engineering are common. In the martial arts, the stealth, strength, and speed of preying mantids form the basis of one system of kung fu. Cricket and spider fighting are pastimes long practiced in Far Eastern countries. In the West, “flea circuses” were once widely attended; now they are somewhat hard to find.
Several apocryphal tales about insects, better called “humbugs,” have cropped up. There are fictitious species such as winged spiders; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tick, “Ixoedes maloni,” which lives in the “Lost World”; iron-eating “railroad or cannon worms”; and even alleged new species contrived from imagination, such as Stecker’s “Gibbicellum sudeticum”. Real bugs are thought to be behind some “flying saucer” sightings. False fossil insects are common, especially in amber but also from fabricated stone.
Ethnoentomology, i.e. applications of insect life in so-called primitive (traditional, aboriginal, or non-industrialized) societies may be regarded as a special branch of cultural entomology. It has taken its place alongside ethnobotany and as part of ethnozoology. It is discussed here only curiously.
Many present day Amerind groups have adopted insects as totem figures and as a source of animistic explanations in their religions and cosmologies. This is especially true or groups inhabiting tropical areas, probably because of the richness of insects in their surroundings. The ethnoentomologies of the Warao of the Orinoco Delta and the Gorotire Kayapó of Amazonia have been investigated more than others. Other studies have been carried out with indigenous tribes in Zambia, Maoris in New Zealand, and Kalahari Bushmen. Among the North American Indians, the ethnoentomologies of the Navajo and the Hopi have been best documented, although other groups have received some attention. The iconography of the Aztecs of Mexico is liberally sprinkled with insects. Insect artifacts and remains have been used as topographic and chronologic indicators in other ethnological works as well.
SPECIES OF SPECIAL CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE
Several types of insect have acquired special cultural importance, often for multiple reasons. Orthopteroids (“grigs”), including mantids, have a wider variety of meanings than any other insects. Locusts command special recognition because of the destructive force of their plagues. Butterflies and moths have at least 74 symbolic meanings in Western art, according to Gagliardi. They were also very important to ancient cultures in Mexico. Bees are nearly culturally ubiquitous, having evoked a considerable number of superstitions and symbolic applications. Others with a particular place in the humanities are dung scarabs (see Religion and Folklore, above) and cicada. Amulets in the form of cicadas were placed on the tongues of the dead in China, to induce resurrection by sympathetic magic. Fleas, fireflies, flies generally, myiasis-producing flies, ectoparasites, dragonflies, spiders, and scorpions, all carry exceptional meanings in human culture.
Several erroneous beliefs, superstitions, and myths have evolved from the mimicry existing between the drone fly (Eristalis tenax) and the honeybee. Most curious is the “bugonia” myth, which is an ancient belief that honeybees may arise from animal carcasses, especially dead oxen or cattle. The development of these bee-resembling flies on putrefying flesh must be the basis of the story.
As a conspicuous part of our environment, insects along with plants, other animals, and geological features have captured our imaginations and become incorporated into our thinking from earliest times. Almost no aspect of our culture is untouched by these creatures. Their cultural importance relative to that of other life forms is not known, because comparative study has not yet been conducted. It is clear that culture is another sphere in which their adaptability has compensated for the basically alien arthropod form and comportment. In spite of a hard external skeleton, extra appendages, and robot-like instincts, arthropods still sufficiently parallel humans in structure and behavior to serve as models of friends, enemies, and teachers.
There are various explanations for the significance of insects in human culture. Their meaning most often rests on their symbolic value. Because of some outstanding part of their appearance or behavior, many species are well-established symbols, some with multifarious meanings. These meanings are sometimes contradictory depending on the society in which they appear (e.g. cricket in the house may signify either good luck or impending doom). The insect itself or its products may also provide a model (decorative art), a device (toy), or a tool (murder weapon in a detective story).
This review has only touched the surface of a vast and complex subject. Unfortunately, under present space limitations it has been possible merely to skip across the more important points, and give only a few examples and primary references. The latter should be consulted for further reading, and the reader is urged to explore the classics, history, poetry and prose, museums of art, archaeology, anthropology, and all around us for more evidence of the insects in our lives.
I am indebted to Jay Bisno, Steven R. Kutcher, and Roy R. Snelling for contributing references and examples to this review and for making valuable suggestions for its betterment. My special thanks go to Dr. D. Keith McE. Kevan for sharing his vast knowledge on the subject and for making many important corrections to my preliminary manuscript.