I get a kick out of people when they find out I am an entomologist. Often the reaction is, “Ew, you play with bugs?!?” Yes. I do. And it is awesome. Of the copious reasons why I am enamored with entomology, a few have reinforced themselves this week.
Arthropods comprise the majority of the known animal kingdom. Mammals comprise around 1% of all described species. One percent! (I’m not knocking mammals, they are cute and fuzzy and all that stuff.) Named species of beetles, just one order of insects, comprises nearly a quarter of described species. As Haldane said, “the Creator has an inordinate fondness for beetles” when asked to reflect on what science had taught him. Considering the magnitude of the diversity of insects, is like trying to wrap your brain around how many earths would fit in the sun or how many calories really are in that Chipotle burrito.
Entomology has new species being discovered, described, and named nearly every day. In 2009, there were almost 20,000 new animal species identified of which half were insects. In 2011 there were almost 10,000 new species of insects described. Just this year, Entomology Today has posted over fifteen articles about newly discovered insects that include over 35 new species and an entirely new FAMILY of insects.
This week, I have seen a number of articles on new species.
- Three new species of flies from Colombia.
- Eight new species of spiders in China and Vietnam.
- Four new species of spider in southern Africa.
- Four new species of bees in Australia.
- Fifteen new species of water beetles from the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands.
- Five new species of flies from China.
Phenomenal. And that’s just what I have seen come across in a bunch of news feeds, I am sure I have missed a few other announcements. That also doesn’t include some species that have been in museum collections that have been
recently described. So the myriad quantity of new species is one of the many things I love about entomology. There is always some new tantalizing entomological wonder to discover, new alluring fact to learn, new tempting data to share. While the creator may have an inordinate fondness for beetles, I have an exceeding inquisitiveness for entomology. It is infectious and it is irresistible (I sure think so). So share this entomological awesomeness and bring joy and scientific wonder to someone you know!