cover image Insectpedia: A Brief Compendium of Insect Lore

Insectpedia: A Brief Compendium of Insect Lore

Eric R. Eaton. Princeton Univ, $16.95 (200p) ISBN 978-0-691-21034-6

“It is impossible to have even a passing interest in the insect world and ever be bored,” writes naturalist Eaton (Wasps) in this eclectic roundup of bug miscellany. Hoping to “ignite an appreciation of insects and those who study them,” Eaton offers more than a hundred entries covering evolutionary patterns, historical vignettes, entomologist bios, ecological concerns, and other matters of insectoid interest. Some findings are rather bizarre: tiny larvae of beaded lacewings, for example, search for termites and kill them via “fatal flatulence,” while male western Australian jewel beetles (also known as beer bottle beetles) were once so enamored with discarded bottles of beer “that had the same texture and patterns of reflected light as a female beetle” that they often died of exhaustion and dehydration after attempting to mate endlessly with bottles. (The species was saved after breweries changed their bottles.) Eaton’s writing is crisp, informative, and at times humorous, and he does a great job of demonstrating insects’ important role on the planet, as they pollinate plants, control pests, and serve as a food source for fish and wildlife. This is worth a look for budding entomologists. (Mar.)