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Nov 26

Insects in the Affairs of Men (1939/40 article)

Posted on November 26, 2019 at 2:32 PM by Bill Sowers


Insects in the Affairs of Men
by H.B. Hungerford, Department of Entomology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

A humorous but instructive article on the place of insects in the history of our planet and their relationship with human kind. Written by H. B. Hungerford, this gem is found in the 32nd Biennial Report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture. Dr. Hungerford definitely has a gift for expressive writing! he starts the article out with this paragraph that would most likely keep the curious reader wanting to know more:

"When the curtains of the past are drawn aside and we are permitted to view for the first time the drama of insect life, it is to find in the upper carboniferous rock (270,000,000 years old) a world teeming with an unbelievable wealth of insects. It was an age of giant insects. There were primitive dragonflies with a wingspread of more than two feet and one huge insect measuring twenty-eight inches from one wing’s tip to the other. The abundant population and the many kinds indicate that even then, insects must have been developing upon the earth for millions of years! The giants disappeared, but their fellows content with smaller size dominate the world today."

Certainly not a dry textbook approach there!

I thought the best part of the article was a tribute to the hardy cockroach:

"If there is anything to a long line of ancestry, the cockroach has a right to be proud. He can tap his son on the shoulder and say,“ Son, see that lump of coal? Well, sir, when that lump of coal was a tree in the rain forest of 270,000,000 years ago, your ancestors were the aristocracy of their day,” and son cockroach can swell with the pride of past achievements and forget his mean position in the world today, just as some men of the street can now boast of ancestors that made a Mayflower entry into the New World."

When the Thanksgiving feast has been put away and after the final football is thrown on the TV this will be a great read before you drift off into an uneasy slumber dreaming of huge insects which once roamed the earth! No, wait! Maybe another piece of pumpkin pie to quell such thoughts.

You can read this article online at the State Library of Kansas' KGI Online Library here:

(The article starts halfway down the first page)