cover image How Not to Be Eaten: The Insects Fight Back%E2%80%A8

How Not to Be Eaten: The Insects Fight Back%E2%80%A8

Gilbert Waldbauer. Univ. of California, $27.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-520-26912-5

In his newest (after Fireflies, Honey, and Silk), Waldbauer delves into the nitty-gritty survival techniques of Nature's less-cuddly creatures. He introduces readers to the basics of insect life in language for the layman, describing the myriad ways in which insects have evolved to evade predators, whether by way of disguises, mimicry, or "Hiding in Plain Sight." Waldbauer presents other intriguing bug survival tactics that seem almost unbelievable: a "species of bombardier beetle%E2%80%A6[blasts] a noxious spray at the temperature of boiling water%E2%80%A6from the tip of its abdomen directly in the toad's mouth." Interesting%E2%80%94and occasionally disturbing%E2%80%94information is given about what are all-too-often household pests: the familiar "American cockroach...can tell light from dark even if the eyes on their heads have been covered with black paint." Though Waldbauer writes about critters many readers would rather ignore, he deftly crafts a pleasurable and fascinating page-turner. But despite the fact that the collective weight of Earth's insects is greater than that of "all the other animals%E2%80%A6combined," Waldbauer assures us that the earth will not be overrun by the crafty bugs of this book, for the predators have evolved too, and those that can read know that to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Illus. (Feb.)