Pondering the question of insects and origins
Ogden Nash taught us most of what we need to know about centipedes when he wrote about the one that was happy until a toad asked, “Which leg goes after which when you run?” Whereupon the centipede pitched into a ditch, paralyzed by confusion. Recently, thanks to J. L. Cloudsley-Thompson’s review of Secret Weapons, by Thomas Eisner, Maria Eisner and Melody Siegler (Times Literary Supplement, April 28), more light has been shed on the “defenses of insects, spiders, scorpions, and other many-legged creatures.” The first impulse of this new expert on insects is to speculate about the origins of their diversity, given the options of evolution, intelligent design and creation.

We should care about these creatures, there being so many of them. “More species of beetle are known to science than of all other animals (including insects other than beetles) put together.” There are 3,700 known species of cockroaches alone, and they will outlive us all.


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