Through the Revolving Door: The Fisher Library Blog

IA Book of the Week: Remarkable Insects

Date posted: Mon, Jan. 11, 2021

Each week the Fisher Library highlights an item from one of its many collections on the Internet Archive, which is open to anyone to explore. This week, Rachael takes a look at a book featuring some creepy crawly friends from our Biodiversity Collection.

With the holidays well behind us as we enter the long month of January, we can all agree that Spring will be a welcome visitor. Spring is a tricky time of year; it often keeps us in waiting for its true arrival. What signifies the end of Winter? Perhaps it is the warming temperature or the disappearance of snow. For others, it is the arrival of certain birds or, for the purposes of this week’s feature, the return of the insects.

This week’s book of focus is “Remarkable Insects,” published in 1842 by the Religious Tract Society of London. This 170 page book features illustrations, information, and poetry about our many legged friends. Following the beautifully illustrated frontispiece seen above, a table of contents can be found where each section of the book is divided by insect. After each insect is named there is a list containing the contents of each chapter. The insects included in the book are the honey bee, fly, ant, spider, and the gall insect.


“Who does not know the honey bee? Far and wide is its range; and it was as familiar and interesting to those in ancient as it is in modern times.” The beginning of the first chapter on the honey bee reiterates its commonality and importance. The author goes on to say that philosophers of all ages have given them much attention. This chapter discusses each member of the hive: the queen, the drones, and the worker bees. The chapters focus on the bee’s anatomy, the jobs of the different kinds of bees, the hive, and what the bees produce. Subsequent chapters on different insects follow a similar pattern but also include information specific to that insect.

As well, being that this book is produced by the Religious Tract Society of London, Christian rhetoric and mentions of God are found frequently throughout.

“Nature is but a name for an effect,

Whose cause is God,

And in all his works he should receive the honour that is due to his name.”

The Religious Tract Society of London was founded in 1799 and was the original name for a major British publisher of books of Christian Literature aimed at children, women, and the poor. In 1935 they merged with the Christian Literature Society. Christian overtones continue to be found throughout the book, including in the chapter on the spider. This chapter begins with a statement addressing the fear that many have of the creature. “It is unhappily not uncommon for the young, and even for those of mature years, to be repelled by the sight of various natural objects.” The author goes on to reiterate that despite the spider’s ability to disgust those who come across it that “it is one of the wonderful works of God.”

Whether you are an insect enthusiast or prefer to keep your distance, there is no doubt that insects play an important role in nature. Keep your eyes open in the coming months for the return of the bees, spiders, and flies. It could mean that Spring is just around the corner.

-Rachael Fraser, TAlint Student