Biographical / Historical
George Salt was born on 12 December 1903 in Loughborough, and moved with his family to Calgary, Alberta,Canada, when he was seven. He graduated in science from the University of Alberta at Edmonton in 1924. Having collected insects since he was eleven, he became an entomologist, working for a PhD at Harvard. His thesis was on the parasitism of bees and wasps by an insect called Stylops. After his graduation in 1933, his first post-doctoral job was for the United Fruit Company in Colombia where he discovered a biological method for controlling the devastating banana-beetle.
After a further period at Harvard, he decided to return to England and joined the Institute of Entomology at Farnham Royal, Buckinghamshire. He discovered parasites for wheat-pests widespread in Canada, but he wanted to get back to basic research and moved to Cambridge. In 1933, he was elected a Fellow of King’s College and became a University Lecturer in the Zoology Department in 1937. During the Second World War, he worked at Cambridge for the Ministry of Agriculture on the control of wire worms. He became Lay Dean of King’s 1939-45, and from 1945-51 he was a Tutor for Advanced Students. He took a period of leave in East Africa in 1948-49 to collect an analyse insects. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1956.
In 1939, he married Joyce Laing (1910-2002, Newnham College 1928-36, Fellow 1937-40). They had two sons, Michael and Peter. George Salt died on 17 February 2003.
Although first and foremost an entomologist, George Salt was concerned with the interplay between insect parasites and their hosts, and he described himself as an ecologist. He developed successful methods for controlling pests by introducing other insects that parasitised them. He was also interested in calligraphy, and the history of scripts. He created many illuminated books and his skill as an artist is shown in his notebooks, which are exquisitely illustrated.