Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 76.djvu/213

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MARCH, 1910

By Professor JOHN B. SMITH, Sc.D.


WHEN your president first wrote me, suggesting that I should deliver the popular lecture required by the constitution of this society, he also suggested a subject: "What entomology has done for the world, and its future." The subject is an attractive one; but it required little consideration to decide that within the time at my disposal for preparation and presentation it was impossible for me to do justice to it. The mere compilation of what has been accomplished would require all the time, and I am distinctly doubtful concerning my ability as a prophet. There are no records of any successful ones in my family history and I have never observed any suggestive symptoms in my own case. I therefore secured a compromise on a much less ambitious topic, and find that quite large enough, for, until systematically set down, the importance of insects in their relation to man, direct and indirect, is scarcely appreciated. It is only within the last decade that our conceptions in this matter have become at all clear, and among the public at large extreme haziness is still the dominant condition.

And it was not even easy to determine just what constitutes an entomologist under our present-day methods of specialization, for 'while not so long ago any person interested in the study of insects at all might be called an entomologist, there are now many students of insects who know nothing at all about them as a whole, but a very great deal about some small, almost or quite invisible part of a single species or group.

  1. Popular lecture delivered at Boston, December 30, 1909, before the Entomological Society of America, its friends and guests.