I am an enthusiastic collector of words of all kinds, and also a keen reader of the magazine British Wildlife, a serious publication, but one without serious academic pretensions. So you can read quite learned articles about identifying a particular class of beetles, or about conservation techniques, or about the species affected by global warming. Or, as in the last issue, you can read about "the folk-names of invertebrates"!
This is a wonderful treasure trove of ancient words, most obsolete or of at least extremely restricted usage, but some still common - and many deserving of resuscitation! The 'mallygolder' for example is a Cornish word for a jellyfish, and the 'dumbledore' is a dialect word for a bumblebee. And as you cross the country (England, I mean) from Devon to the Thames valley and up to the north, the woodlouse changes from ' zow-pig' to 'chisel-pig' and then to 'slater'; and if instead of travelling in space, we travelled in time, they would be called 'chisleps' or 'esselchans'. Other names for the same creature include 'bibble bug', 'cheesy-bob' and 'pissibed'. What a lexicon for a small and unregarded crustacean.
The earwig is another with many names - many of them stubbornly clinging to the ridiculous notion that they entered the human ear and casued serious damage, a belief reflected in medical textbooks for many years. They are 'forkie-tails' in Scotland, or 'gallochs', which means the same in Gaelic. And in Elizabethan England, it was dreaded under the name of 'twitch-ballock' from its predilection for the warmth and humidity of the codpiece.
I could go on - dragonflies are 'devil's darning needles', and the garden snail is the 'hodmandod', and starfish were 'cassock'cats' or 'devil's hands', but the last insect I want to focus on is the charming flying beetle we all known as ladybirds - 'Our Lady's Bird', the bird of the Virgin Mary. The venereal term, or group name, is also wonderful - 'a loveliness' of ladybirds. But they were also called 'clock-ladies' from the belief that they flew from your finger in the direction of the hour (with 12 at due north) - and no-one knows why they have to fly home, 'because your house is burning down and your children gone'.