Natalie Gregorius: On “becoming an insect”

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts from Whitties studying on Whitman’s Crossroads: Pollination Biology in Sweden program this summer with Professor Heidi Dobson. Natalie Gregorius ’19  plans to major in biology-environmental studies.

Stepping outside is stepping into another world at Station Linné. You are no longer in a human dominated world, but a world that belongs to the buzzing of pollinating bumble bees, the stretching of opening flowers, and the talking of birds. We constantly view the world from our perspective and make assumptions about the lives of these organisms. After two weeks of studying pollination biology, this common perspective we have has changed to that of the organisms, revealing their intricate and essential roles within our ecosystems. One of the most important pieces of advice I have gained thus far at Station Linné is to “become the insect” (a quote from our professor, Heidi). By becoming the insects that we have observed, collected, and identified, I am able to slip into the incredible world of pollination where flowers emit odors to attract visitors and worker honeybees cooperate to raise their entire colony. We owe a lot to these organisms that participate in the continuation of plant species, more than I knew before emerging myself into their lives.

I think that there is a lot to learn from the study of pollination biology, especially in terms of how organisms interact and relate to each other. It is amazing how a relationship between a flower growing from the minerals and chemical compounds in the soil can respond and influence a pollinator that originates in a completely different way. Our world is full of unusual relationships and collaborations that we can learn from and apply to our own human world.

We have three more weeks of waking up to the sun at 4 am, wandering through meadows of flowers, putting insects into glass vials to identify, biking the dirt roads of Skogsby, and learning about the astonishing world of pollination. I look forward to all these moments and will miss this beautiful island with its small wonders hidden everywhere.


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