I believe that continuing life-long learning (formal or informal) is important. As I foolishly proposed in an earlier blog post (in an attempt to paint myself into a corner), I am going to begin teaching myself the basics of entomology which I will share in a series of articles. By using a blend of material from books, websites (yes, maybe even Wikipedia!!!), blogs and online videos, I hope to have proceeded through a fairly comprehensive introductory entomology course by the summer of 2011.
I reiterate that I have no qualifications to present a course on entomology. Reader beware… I will be relying on a mixture of sources, not all of them up-to-date. Each post will be link-intensive, and links can go bad. I will do my best to use only legitimate sources, but if I fail, please let me know. I will go ahead with this as a personal self-learning project. As such, it may or may not be vetted by those who actually know what they are talking about. Comments, corrections and added insights are expected. If you know of a better source for information for any section, let me know. This will be an honest attempt on my part, there will be no talk of ‘luring’ ants and other phantasms (but perhaps Phasmids?) so you need have no fear of embarrassment.¹
Many courses begin by providing reasons for their existence. My reasons would probably be considered typical by most out there with a penchant for bugs: I want to study insects because they are endlessly fascinating. With a seemingly boundless diversity of forms, lifestyles and behaviours, the insects (and the related land-based arthropods and crustaceans that fall under the wide umbrella of entomology) offer a mind-boggling subject to take an interest in. Besides the general knowledge, I want to know how to properly use dichotomous keys for identification and gain enough background knowledge to help me understand research papers on my personal interests: the behaviour and evolution of insects. Of course, I am hoping the new-found knowledge will help me as a photographer who wants to go beyond chance bug portraits, and perhaps, just maybe, it will help me find a specialization to focus on. (Excuse pun)
I have flitted about the net and perused a few entomology course syllabi, and with a bit of prodding, blending and molding, I have drafted the following (potential) syllabus.
Shall I begin?
Attention ye ranks of weevils! Sound your trumpets snouts rostrums!
Adrian’s Entomology 101 Syllabus
- Entomology? What? Why?
- Who? (A Brief History of Entomology)
- External structure
- Internal structure
- Nervous Systems
- Sensory Perception
- Life cycles
- Systematics and Classification
- Collecting and Preserving
- What Next?
The list is flexible – at this point I have no idea on how each section will proceed, and I may shuffle, extend, add or subtract sections as I go along. Most Intro. to Ento. courses also deal with applied entomology, but I don’t believe that pertains to my approach as an enthusiast and photographer, so it won’t be broached here. On the other hand, if there is anything else I have omitted, or a better way to arrange the sections, please let me know.
And a special note to all blogging entomologists or grad students (should any blunder across this post accidentally) – if you have ever posted information on any of the above sections, please let me know. I will link to you when I get that far. Are you interested in doing a guest post on a section, or any one aspect of a section? My world’s your oyster. If I get in over my head, and say something particularly dim or foolish? Don’t be shy, point it out.
¹Indeed, some entomologists would do well to lurk follow this series – the last thing we need is false information being spread – let’s leave that to the popular media.