"It can never be too strongly impressed upon a mind anxious for the acquisition of knowledge, that the commonest things by which we are surrounded are deserving of minute and careful attention. The most profound investigations of Philosophy are necessarily connected with the ordinary circumstances of our being, and of the world in which our every-day life is spent. With regard to our own existence, the pulsation of the heart, the act of respiration, the voluntary movement of our limbs, the condition of sleep, are among the most ordinary operations of our nature; and yet how long were the wisest of men struggling with dark and bewildering speculations before they could offer anything like a satisfactory solution of these phenomena, and how far are we still from an accurate and complete knowledge of them! The science of Meteorology, which attempts to explain to us the philosophy of matters constantly before our eyes, as dew, mist, and rain, is dependent for its illustrations upon a knowledge of the most complicated facts, such as the influence of heat and electricity upon the air; and this knowledge is at present so imperfect, that even these common occurrences of the weather, which men have been observing and reasoning upon for ages, are by no means satisfactorily explained, or reduced to the precision that every science should aspire to. Yet, however difficult it may be entirely to comprehend the phenomena we daily witness, everything in nature is full of instruction. (...)
This train of reasoning is peculiarly applicable to the economy of insects. They constitute a very large and interesting part of the animal kingdom. They are everywhere about us. The spider weaves his curious web in our houses; the caterpillar constructs his silken cell in our gardens; the wasp that hovers over our food has a nest not far removed from us, which she has assisted to build with the nicest art; the beetle that crawls across our path is also an ingenious and laborious mechanic, and has some curious instincts to exhibit to those who will feel an interest in watching his movements; and the moth that eats into our clothes has something to plead for our pity, for he came, like us, naked into the world, and he has destroyed our garments, not in malice or wantonness, but that he may clothe himself with the same wool which we have stripped from the sheep. An observation of the habits of these little creatures is full of valuable lessons, which the abundance of the examples has no tendency to diminish."
RENNIE, James. Insect Architecture. London: Bell and Daldy, 1869.