Hunger is universal among animals. It has been more thoroughly studied in the black blowfly than virtually any other creature except, possibly, man and the white rat. This book is an exploration of what we mean when we say that an animal is “hungry”; it analyzes the ethological concepts of motivation and drive as tested in extensive and elegant experiments on blowflies. The fly, then, is incidental; concepts and experimental techniques for evaluating them are the main subject.
With a clarity and wit rarely found in scientific prose, the author tells the story of all the research that has been carried out with the blowfly. In so doing, he traces the development of ideas and methods employed in experimental physiology. He illustrates an approach to the study of animal behavior that is based upon analysis of underlying mechanisms.
And yet, there is much to learn about flies from this book. It is the most complete book on blowfly physiology, exclusive of endocrinology; thus entomologists will find it indispensable. Sensory physiologists will discover that it details all the classic and contemporary work on the chemical senses of insects. Behavioral biologists will want it as an analytical case history of feeding behavior. Physiological psychologists will encounter a discussion of familiar problems—solved by quite a different evolutionary approach than the rat’s. And the general reader interested in animals will find a readable and entertaining view of one of the most challenging branches of biology. With this book, the blowfly joins the herring gull as one of the most accessible and understandable—and even likeable—of animal species.