Vincent Brian Wigglesworth (1899–1994)


Vincent Brian Wigglesworth (1899–1994) had played a fundamental role in the creation of the modern science of insect physiology. He is best known for making some of the first significant contributions to research in insect endocrinology. Through a series of simple experiments, Wigglesworth was able to demonstrate the existence of the ‘status quo’ juvenile hormones and the molting hormone ecdysone. Later, he made advances in our understanding of the sources and functions of these hormones. His Principles of Insect Physiology was especially influential, serving as the canonical guide to research in the field for nearly 40 years.

Keywords: insect physiology; history of entomology; juvenile hormone; ecdysone; metamorphosis

Figure 1. A portrait of Wigglesworth. Reproduced from under the Creative Commons Attribution License (


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Edwards JS (1994) In memorium: Sir Vincent Brian Wigglesworth (1899–1994). Developmental Biology 166 (2): 361–362.

Haldane JBS, Wigglesworth VB and Woodcrow CE (1924a) The effect of reaction changes on human inorganic metabolism. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 96: 1–14.

Haldane JBS, Wigglesworth VB and Woodcrow CE (1924b) The effect of reaction changes on human inorganic metabolism. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 96: 15–28.

Locke M (1996) Sir Vincent Brian Wigglesworth, CBE 17 April 1899 – 12 February 1994. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 42: 540–553.

Malpighi M (1679) De Gallis (Redfern M, Alexander J, Cameron AJ and Down K, Trans., 2008). London: Ray Society Publications.

Redi F (1668) Experiments on the Generation of Insects (Bigelow MAB, Trans., 1909). London: Kegan and Paul.

Wigglesworth VB (1924a) Studies in ketosis: I. The relation between alkalosis and ketosis. Biochemical Journal 18: 1203–1216.

Wigglesworth VB (1924b) Studies in Ketosis: II. The oxidation of ketone bodies by the isolated liver of the rat. Biochemical Journal 18: 1217–1221.

Wigglesworth VB (1934) Factors controlling moulting and ‘metamorphosis’ in an insect. Nature 133: 725.

Wigglesworth VB (1936) The function of the corpus allatum in the growth and reproduction of Rhodnius prolixus (Hemiptera). Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science 79: 91–121.

Wigglesworth VB (1939) Principles of Insect Physiology. London: Methuen.

Wigglesworth VB (1945) A case of DDT poisoning in man. British Medical Journal 1: 517.

Wigglesworth VB (1946a) Organs of equilibrium in flying insects. Nature 157: 655.

Wigglesworth VB (1946b) DDT and the balance of nature. Atlantic Monthly: 107–113.

Wigglesworth VB (1952) Hormone balance and the control of metamorphosis in Rhodnius prolixus (Hemiptera). Journal of Experimental Biology 29: 620–631.

Wigglesworth VB (1957) The use of osmium in the fixation and staining of tissues. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 147: 185–199.

Wigglesworth VB (1963) Origin of wings in insects. Nature 198: 106.

Wigglesworth VB (1976) The evolution of insect flight. Royal Entomological Society of London, Symposium on Insect Flight 7: 225–269.

Wigglesworth VB (1988) Histological staining of lipids for the light and electron microscope. Biological Review 63: 417–431.

Wigglesworth VB (1991) The distribution of auriferous tracheae for the ovaries of insects. Tissue & Cell 23: 57–65.

Further Reading

Locke M and Smith DS (1981) Insect Biology in The Future: VBW 80. New York: Academic Press, Inc..

Nijhout HF (1998) Insect Hormones. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Riddiford LM (2007) The control of metamorphosis in the kissing bug. Journal of Experimental Biology 210 (18): 3133–3134.

Wigglesworth VB (1959) The Control of Growth and Form. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

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How to Cite close
Gawne, Richard, and Clarke, Jameson(May 2016) Vincent Brian Wigglesworth (1899–1994). In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0026147]