Small blue butterfly (Cupido minimus)

Hyde Hall, 15 August 2006


On these pages you can see how my interest in insects developed. This is an unusual hobby to be paired with my main preoccupation with language, culture and the mind, but it does fit obliquely. The only other animals on this planet to have a sophisticated communication system that permits non-immediate reference are the bees (notably the honey bee, Apis mellifera); and the only other animals to have a sophisticated social structure involving individual specialisms, complex built structures for group occupation, and a willingness to sacrifice self for the group, are the hymenoptera (ants, bees and wasps) and the isoptera (termites).


If we want to understand some of the strange things that humans do in the name of group living then looking at our closest relatives, the other apes, is only marginally helpful. In terms of the peculiar Darwinian fitness of Homo sapiens, we can learn more about the origins of our sociality from species where fitness is uncomplicated by culture; and we can thus show that our culture is not an overlay on our evolutionary history but an intrinsic part of it.


As for the spiders ... Well, they’re just cute!