Jean-Henri Fabre is well known
for his popularization of insect natural history, especially
in the ten volumes of Souvenirs Entomoligiques. Although
a reclusive amateur, with no scientific training, he was an
acute observer of insect behavior. He combined his observations
(most made in his own backyard) with a humanistic writing style
that made his books popular, at least later in his life; during
most of his life, the successive volumes of Souvenirs Entomologiques
attracted only mild attention. Fabre was 84 when the last volume
appeared, and soon afterward he was "discovered."
He was elected to numerous scientific societies, provided a
government pension, and even the President of France came to
In volumes 5 and 6 of the Souvenirs, Fabre detailed
the behavior and life history of local species of Copris,
Scarabaeus (Scarabaeinae), and Geotrupes (Geotrupidae).
In volume 8 he followed the life history of species of Cetonia,
Oxythrea, and Protaetia (Cetoniinae).
Gonzalo Halffter and Eric Matthews noted that the importance
of Fabre's works cannot be overemphasized because, quite apart
from their popularizing influence, he alone set up the standards
of observational patience and accuracy that subsequent workers
were then obligated to match.
Fabre, A. 1921. The Life of Jean Henri Fabre. Dodd,
Mead, and Co., New York.
Favret, C. 1999. Jean-Henri Fabre: his life experiences and
predisposition against Darwinism. American Entomologist 45:
Pasteur, G. 1994. Jean Henri Fabre. Scientific American 271:74.8.