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Insects in culture


The roles of insects in culture span different aspects of human life, whether analysed academically or more generally.

Academically, the interaction of insects and society has been treated in part as cultural entomology, dealing mostly with "advanced" societies, and in part as ethnoentomology, dealing mostly with "primitive" societies, though the distinction is weak and not based on theory. Both academic disciplines explore the parallels, connections and influence of insects on human populations, and vice versa. They are rooted in anthropology and natural history, as well as entomology, the study of insects. Other cultural uses of insects, such as biomimicry, do not necessarily lie within these academic disciplines.

More generally, people make a wide range of uses of insects, both practical and symbolic.

Practical uses include as food (entomophagy), in medicine, for the valuable textile silk, for dyestuffs such as carmine, in science, where the fruit fly is an important model organism in genetics, and in warfare, where insects were successfully used in the Second World War to spread disease in enemy populations. One insect, the honey bee, provides honey, pollen, royal jelly, propolis and an anti-inflammatory peptide, melittin; its larvae too are eaten in some societies. Medical uses of insects include maggot therapy for wound debridement. Over a thousand protein families have been identified in the saliva of blood-feeding insects; these may provide useful drugs such as anticoagulants, vasodilators, antihistamines and anaesthetics.



  • Hogue, James N. (2003). "Cultural Entomology". In Vincent H. Resh, Ring T. Cardé. Encyclopedia of Insects. Academic Press. pp. 273–281. ISBN . 
  • Marren, Peter; Mabey, Richard (2010). Bugs Britannica. Chatto & Windus. ISBN . 
  • Meyer-Rochow, V. B.; et al. (2008). "More feared than revered: Insects and their impact on human societies (with specific data on the importance of entomophagy in a Laotian setting". Entomologie Heute. 20: 3–25. 
  • Morris, Brian (2006) [2004]. Cultural Entomology. Insects and Human Life. Berg. pp. 181–216. ISBN . 
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Wikipedia

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