Wax or wane? Insect perspectives on human environmental interactions

Rhyncolus ater - insects

Rhyncolus ater - insectsWax or wane? Insect perspectives on human environmental interactions

Eileen Reilly

Past Times, Changing Fortunes: University College Dublin Library, August (2011)


Interactions between humans and the environment over many millennia have been complex. These interactions take place against a backdrop of natural change, particularly driven by climate, but humans have undoubtedly had a profound effect on the ecosystems in which they live and which they share with insects. With the passing of the UN International Year of Biodiversity (2010), it is perhaps appropriate to examine some of these interactions over the last few millennia, using examples from archaeological research.

The following themes will be considered:

  • woodland change—illustrated by the loss of key elements of our woodland insect fauna;
  • development of human habitation—illustrated by the temporary flourishing of certain beetles owing to the building materials chosen and the methods of waste disposal employed both on and off site;
  • settlement activity and landscape change—illustrated by increases in ‘signature’ beetle faunas of animal husbandry, open landscapes, industrial and domestic activities;
  • trade links and food storage—illustrated by the arrival of new insects, associated with new foodstuffs and new ways of managing food resources.

Click here to read this article from Past Times, Changing Fortunes


Sign up for our weekly email newsletter!