Insects not "lower animals"?

Neil Jones Neil at
Wed Sep 10 04:01:06 EDT 1997

In message <970906115444_1649458113 at> Pavulaan at writes:
> Stop me if I am wrong, but somehow I always believed man was superior to all
> lower animals (all animals but man).  Who invented things?  Travelled into
> space?  Studied math, physics, chemistry, philosophy?  Who pondered WHY we
> are here?  Certainly not insects.  As for a godlike man: we're there!  It's
> called genetic engtineering.  I think the above clearly separates us from our
> "lower friends".  

This notion is a dangerous one. Man being a god-like being also implies that
man is also infalible and omniscient. History shows us that we make mistakes
with technology and that we are unable to foresee the consequences of our
actions. Chemicals like DDT and CFCs are examples of these. As for Genetic
Engineering it hasn't been around long enough for many mistakes to occur, but
occur they will. One example of the kind of unforseen problems caused by
genetic experimentation is the creation of the africanised honey bee.
A vicious strain of bees that have caused quite a few deaths.

The other problem with this technology beccoming more common place and
easy to use is that of control. Just imagine the monsters a teenage genetic
hacker might create. I just noticed a most appropriate quote as someones
signature on a butterfly posting. "The difference between stupidity and
genius is that genius has its limits." Mankind is not as clever as it sometimes
thinks it is.

> Perhaps lower life forms need not evolve any "higher", or cannot evolve into
> niches already occupied!  If they could, what would that do to the food
> chain?  But where does this arguement stop?  If insects were equally evolved
> as man, then what about protozoans, viruses?  If we follow this course, we
> will soon be seeing a protozoan-rights movement!

I am not making an animal rights arguement. My concern is with the conservation
of rare animals. Those animals happen to be insects. My arguement is is that
it is just as important to conserve the El Segundo Blue as the Giant Panda 

I am not argueing that it is wrong to kill insects for valid scientific reasons.
> Sorry to say, the notion that lower life forms are equal to humans is
> fundamentally dangerous to the advancement of mankind.  This is the notion
> that drives the far-left, hard-core animal rights movement.  This does not
> mean we have to eliminate lower life forms, sure we can and should leave room
> for them.  But to equate man with insects....
> I must be missing something.
> Harry Pavulaan

You are missing something. If we can and should leave room for them then we need
to persuade people that this needs to be done. Therefore it is necessary to
persuade people that they are proper animals as worthy of conservation as any

For example I regularly find myself argueing for the conservation of an
internationally recognised threatened species of butterfly a kind of checkerspot
which we British confusingly call the Marsh Fritillary Eurodryas = Euphydryas
 Our planning system can lead to the appointment of an inspector
to decide on an issue rather like a judge would. On one occasion we were
fighting to save an internationally important site. The large metapopulation
core site for an important area. A strip mine was proposed. E. aurinia requires
a particular kind of Molinia caerulia grassland called "Rhos Pasture",
(RH-OH-SS) after a Welsh word for a kind of Heathland. The mining company had
restored a similar site, not to Rhos Pasture, but a sparse grassland similar
to that found on spoil tips. In deciding to let the mine go ahead the inspector
decided that the restored site was good for butterflies because it had large
numbers of a common spoil tip species on it. The species concerned being
The Grayling Hiparchia semele. If he had realised that insects were as complex
and highly evolved as any other animal he would have known that he was wrong
to make that judgement. You could not for example justify destroying
Giant Panda habitat to make way for Rabbit grazing.

None of this has anything to do with the "far-left" of politics. It has to do
with advancing the knowledge of the masses within society that there are other
species that are complex, interesting, and worthy of study, that should not
be made extinct. I am not argueing that it is always wrong to kill E. aurinia.
A good friend of mine, a professional emtomologist who would not call himself
a collector (and we have many like this in the UK) recently wanted to do
some work on genetic variability in E. aurinia. I helped him to find
suitable places to get the material he needed. Of course this required him
to kill some.

I argue that in order to conserve habitats it is necessary to encourage respect
for the animals that live there whether these are insects or mammals.

Neil Jones- Neil at "The beauty and genius of a work of art
may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a
vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer; but when the last
individual of a race of living things breathes no more another heaven and
another earth must pass before such a one can be again." William Beebe

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