The Flowering of Ecology presents an English translation of Maria Sibylla Merian’s 1679 ‘caterpillar’ book, Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandelung und sonderbare Blumen–Nahrung. Her processes in making the book and an analysis of its scientific content are presented in a historical context. Merian raised insects for five decades, recording the food plants, behavior and ecology of roughly 300 species. Her most influential invention was an 'ecological' composition in which the metamorphic cycles of insects (usually moths and butterflies) were arrayed around plants that served as food for the caterpillars. Kay Etheridge analyzes the 1679 caterpillar book from the viewpoint of a biologist, arguing that Merian’s study of insect interactions with plants, the first of its kind, was a formative contribution to natural history.
Kay Etheridge Ph.D. (1986), University of Florida, is a Professor of Biology at Gettysburg College. She has published articles and book chapters on physiological ecology and on the influence of images in the history of biology.
It is hard to choose between superlatives with which to characterize this modestly sized but highly significant volume. Focusing on one of best-known names in the history of natural history at the turn of the eighteenth century, Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717), it demonstrates that even the esteem in which she has been held fails to recognize the extent of her originality.
Arthur MacGregor, Archives of Natural History 49.1 (2022): 224
"Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students and faculty. General readers."
--A. L. Jacobsen (California State University, Bakersfield ), June 2022 issue of CHOICE
"[...] after years of distortion, in the past few decades, her real contributions to entomology have started to come into view. The Flowering of Ecology: Maria Sibylla Merian’s Caterpillar Book by Kay Etheridge, with translations by Michael Ritterson, is a significant contribution to this effort." --Kim Todd (University of Minnesota), EMW Vol. 16 No. 2 • Spring 2022, 351-353
Foreword Brian Ogilvie
Preface Acknowledgments List of Illustrations
part 1: The Flowering of Ecology
1 Before the Transformation Introduction
Art and Science Intertwined
Still Life Painting
Finding God in Nature
Natural History of Insects in Printed Works
Publishing Illustrated Natural History Books
Studies of Metamorphosis
2 A Life Investigated Growing up in Frankfurt am Main
Early Fascination with Insects
Marriage and the Move to Nuremberg
The Flower Books
Beginnings of the Raupen Books
3 Described and Painted from Life Fieldwork: The Basis of Merian’s Empirical Studies
Merian’s Study Journal
Merian’s Other Sources of Information
Illustrating the Raupen Book
Composing the Images
Making the Plates
Composing the Text of Her Book
Financing, Printing and Marketing the Raupen Book
4 For the Benefit of Naturalists The Rupsen Books
The Last Caterpillar Book
Later Editions and Their Lasting Effects
Recognition and Reception by Near Contemporaries
Merian’s Influence on Natural History
Merian’s Reputation as a Naturalist
part 2: Plates, Translation and Commentary
Maria Sibylla Merian’s Caterpillar Book
Appendix: Translation of Selected Entries from Maria Sibylla Merian’s Study Journal Bibliography Index
All interested in Maria Sibylla Merian, early entomological studies, the history of natural history and the integration of images and text in early modern works of biology.