Ethics in Entomology
I was previously asked by one of my students, “So Dr., if you collect and preserve those insects from your research, would it be possible that you might also collect any ‘endangered’ species?”. I replied that would be possible if I mindlessly used any invasive (or aggressive) method to collect the specimen. I explained that in my work, many of the specimens were of those sarcosaprophagous insects attracted to baited traps. Therefore, while collecting sample for studies, I also attempted to culture the specimens to learn about their development and life history. At that particular moment, I did not think of any ethical consequences of being an entomologist, apart from knowing few issues such as genetically modifying any insects as biological control agents or uncontrolled use of pesticides. I had this sentiment when I started working in the field doing macro and close up photography of insects. Although my work is mostly on Diptera, I really love to observe insects or arthropods from various groups with my camera lens. Every single shot revealed how beautiful they belong to their specific natural environments with each organism plays dynamic part in our ecosystem. This brings me back to the question, should I unnecessarily collect them or let them live?
Recently, an article in Antenna magazine, a Bulletin by the Royal Entomological Society, highlighted Ethics in Entomology. The article brings the philosophical importance of ethics in entomology from a broader perspective. I agree with Didham et al., that while studying insect, we must also conserve them.