Chapter 1. Insects


The ant by itself is small and fragile, seemingly ill-adapted to survive anything. It has two tiny eyes with thousands of ommatidia for low-res wide-angle vision and acute motion detection, plus three small ocelli for detecting the light level and polarization. Human craft is too crude to duplicate this intricate jewel.

Dung beetle

Seemingly ill-suited for its primary occupation, the dung beetle must walk backwards on its front legs with its four rear legs up to roll its ball of dung rapidly from the source pile. This beetle is the model of the scarab amulets of Egypt.


We normally wouldn’t let a bug crawl all over us, but a ladybug was another story, and not really a bug. It doesn’t generally bite and it doesn’t breed in manure, so a child may imagine it to be a fairy’s pet. The seven spots of the species common in Europe are said to symbolize Mary’s seven joys and seven sorrows. Ladybug, ladybug, fly fly away; your house is on fire, your children at play.

Monarch butterfly

Seemingly unrelated to its own caterpillar, the Monarch butterfly is a gift of metamorphosis. Its beautiful and delicate wings lift it aloft on long migrations during which it orients itself by the polarized ultraviolet of the sky. In its dreams it would not be here stuck by a pin and framed on black velvet.


Dragonflies in the Upper Carboniferous had wingspans of thirty inches. These are less scary than dragons. They are predators, but eat only bugs. They guard no hoard, and hover, beautifully, about.