I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say, or write, that insects aren’t animals.
When one of my daughters was ten years old, she came home one day with the story that her teacher had told the class that insects weren’t animals. She spoke up, declared that insects were animals, and got a lecture in return.
My daughter knew she was right. She and I had discussed the issue. She told me about it to let me know what had happened, not to get support from me. I praised her and I was proud of her. Unfortunately, I didn’t also do what I should have done. I’ve never care much about what other people think, unless what they think is getting in my way, so it didn’t occur to me then.
What I should have done is send her back to school the next day with this quote from entomologist Howard Ensign Evans’ book about insects, Life on a Little Known Planet:
When I say “organism,” ….. I refer to any kind of living thing. An “animal” is an organism capable of moving about and living (directly or indirectly) at the expense of plants, which are largely sedentary and possess the green pigment chlorophyll, which represents the link of all living things with the ultimate source of energy, sunlight. The use of the word “animal” to mean “mammal,” that is, a backboned animal that possesses hair and suckles its young, is simply not correct. An animal is any living thing that is not a plant.
That is from page 27 of the 1968 E.P. Dutton edition. Evans goes on to say that arthropods, that is, insects and spiders together, form the largest group of animal species.
And so, to those who want to persist with this strange notion that insects are not animals – and I know there are more of you now than ever – please take note: you’re dead wrong.