You Can Blame Insects for Daylight Savings Time

It’s that time of year again. When the outrage and tired eyes of March 9th will finally be repaid. Yep, it’s Daylight Savings Time, but the good one – the one where you get the extra hour.

So why are we hopping around on time, swinging hours across months? Because of insects.

George V. Hudson, an entomologist from New Zealand, first proposed the idea of Daylight saving time in 1895. Saying he’s an entomologist is like saying George Washington was a soldier – it’s true but it doesn’t get the whole picture. Hudson compiled the largest collection of insects in New Zealand, which is now housed in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and when in school was routinely bullied for his love of the little crawlers. He wrote his first of many manuscripts on insects when he was 13. He was also an adventurer, mainly because he wanted to see more bugs, and was part of a scientific expedition to the subantarctic islands where he spent 10 days on Auckland Island. Thankfully he found sixty-one species of insects on the trip.

Hudson’s shift-work job meant that time was very important, and he became more aware of how important daylight hours were. His flexible schedule allowed him to collect bugs in his leisure time. But that wasn’t enough. This man loved insects so much; he wanted to literally change time so he could see them more often. And you thought rom-coms were romantic.

So on October 16, 1895 he gave Wellington Philosophical Society a paper about, you guessed it, daylight savings or in this case seasonal time adjustment. But like his days back in school, he was ridiculed for his odd inclination (seriously, the kids ‘never ceased to ridicule’ him). Many scientists laughed at him for the idea, but eventually the proposal gained traction in Christchurch, New Zealand, prompting him to write yet another paper on the subject. And the rest is history.

DST spread first to Germany and Austria-Hungary, where it’s called Sommerzeit or ‘summer hours.’ They mainly used it as a way to save coal during WWI. A Londoner also conceived of it because didn’t want to stop golfing at dusk (seriously). While some explanations are odd and some aren’t, I think we can all agree it’s pretty annoying. We get it. Guys love their insects and golf. But enough to change time so you can do it more often? Bit of an asshole move.