cover image Insects Through the Seasons

Insects Through the Seasons

Gilbert Waldbauer. Harvard University Press, $27.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-674-45488-0

Their numbers are staggering--about 900,000 species--75% of all known species of animals, and they have been successful for 400 million years. Insects are indispensable members of almost all ecosystems, says the author, professor emeritus of entomology at the University of Illinois. Taking the cecropia moth as a central character, Waldbauer follows it through the seasons, from egg to larva, pupa and adult. We learn about insect courtship and mating, strategies for avoiding predators and defense against them, camouflage and mimicry and reciprocal relationships between plants and insects. The author discusses the importance of insects as pollinators and scavengers; on the subject of silkworms, he points out that the silk moth has been in cultivation for so long that it can no longer survive in nature. This book is a lively, well-written introduction to an endlessly fascinating side of natural history. Illustrations. (Mar.)