Stunning photographic guide to bugs, from the beautiful to the bizarre and every bug in between
Smithsonian Handbook of Interesting Insects presents striking photographic profiles of insects, each one specially selected from the 34 million specimens found in one of the oldest and most important entomology collection in the world, held by London's Natural History Museum. The book showcases more than one hundred significant bug species, including the ruby-tailed wasp, the garden tiger moth, the jewel beetle, the flying stick insect, the orchid bee, and many others.
Magnificent full-color photographs show the bugs in detail, so that readers can learn to distinguish, for example, the translucent abdomen of the great pied hoverfly from the yellow or orange markings on a giant scoliid wasp. Each detailed and dazzling photograph is accompanied by a caption describing the bug's lifestyle, distribution, size, and key characteristics. An insightful introduction also explores the different orders and families found in the insect classes and an explanation of how they have evolved. Based on the most up-to-date science and accessibly written, the book will appeal to scientists and amateur science readers alike.
About the Author
BLANCA HUERTAS is the Senior Curator of Lepidoptera at the Natural History Museum, London. GAVIN BROAD is the Principal Curator of Insects at the Natural History Museum, London.
"Curators from the Natural History Museum in London present a fascinating gallery of insects in this richly photographed work. [...] It is rewarding just to peer at the handsome photographs and to discover, for instance, that the Goliath beetle resembles an Art Nouveau brooch, or that the leaf beetle is downright cute. The text accompanying each photograph is rarely longer than five sentences and offers facts about, among other topics, distribution (the ubiquitous stink bug is “almost cosmopolitan” in its dispersion around the world) and size (the Atlas moth sports a 10-inch to 12-inch wingspan), as well as humor (lantern bugs are “supposed to taste like bacon, ” according to aficionados in Madagascar). [...] this book of little creatures will be a welcome arrival for amateur entomologists."
Broad (Natural History Museum, London) draws on the collections of his home institution for the featured insects. Between the single-page introduction and the final page of the book are vignettes of some 100 insect species, each one represented by a stunning photograph of the adult form. Text on each facing page provides the common and scientific names, distribution, and size along with pithy yet authoritative remarks, thoughtfully edited to provide an interesting profile unique to that species. The two-page layout devoted to each species allows for succinct presentation that is distinctive for every species included. The arrangement of species appears eclectic: whether influenced by pure whimsy, the status of contributing author(s), or the overall design of the volume remains obscure. This nevertheless provides for a surprise with every turn of the page. The book's intent is to celebrate the existence of the intriguing and attractive insects with whom we share this planet, broadening readers' understanding of nature. This approach will surely whet the appetite of the budding naturalist, while also informing general readers unfamiliar with particular species. The book would be delightful to find on a coffee table or in a waiting room, as a source of edifying facts for consumption in just a few minutes.
--M. K. Harris, emeritus, Texas A&M University
Summing Up: Recommended. All readers.