Backyard Biology

Nature stories from my backyard and beyond

Pick of the Month

Population of an Old Pear Tree

Friday, October 9, 2009

WHEN certain blue spirits begin to flit about me, I depart from my study to go and read, in what I am allowed, even by my clerical uncle, to call my book of devotions.
The devotions I mean are not in my bookcase. No publisher, if he ever thought of such a thing, could bring them out. They are a page of the book of Nature, opened in the country, under blue sky, displayed at all seasons. Everyone has looked at that book, but few of us understand it in any degree, and the man who could read it all would be the wisest in the world.
In short, my book is a meadow lying not far from the town where I was born. A substantial farmer gets two crops of hay off it, and is well satisfied.
I go there to do nothing, and am still better satisfied, and we are not at all in each other's way.

This delightful little book written by Ernest Van Bruyssel in the late 1800’s takes the reader on a magical journey visiting the inhabitants on an around an old pear tree. Van Bruyssel describes the life he sees from the perspective of one of the tree’s denizens. With his awareness shrunk down to the size of an insect, he becomes intimately familiar with and describes to the reader the countless tales of power, greed, courage and stupidity that make up the insect world. Not content to observe the lives of insects, he constantly point out to the reader that these characteristics he finds in the insects of the pear tree are the very same characteristics that can be found in humans.Pear Tree book image

The insights to human nature as learned through the insect world are fascinating and the natural history presented is truly amazing. Once you read this book, you will never look at a tree in the same way.

While reprints of this book can be purchased from Amazon, you can also download an electronic copy from the Internet Archive at



store link