The award-winning journalist Lisa Margonelli, national bestselling author of Oil on the Brain: Petroleum's Long, Strange Trip to Your Tank, investigates the environmental and economic impact termites inflict on human societies in this fascinating examination of one of nature's most misunderstood insects.Are we more like termites than we ever imagined? In Underbug, the award-winning journalist Lisa Margonelli introduces us to the enigmatic creatures that collectively outweigh human beings ten to one and consume $40 billion worth of valuable stuff annually--and yet, in Margonelli's telling, seem weirdly familiar. Over the course of a decade-long obsession with the little bugs, Margonelli pokes around termite mounds and high-tech research facilities, closely watching biologists, roboticists, and geneticists. Her globe-trotting journey veers into uncharted territory, from evolutionary theory to Edwardian science literature to the military industrial complex. What begins as a natural history of the termite becomes a personal exploration of the unnatural future we're building, with darker observations on power, technology, historical trauma, and the limits of human cognition. Whether in Namibia or Cambridge, Arizona or Australia, Margonelli turns up astounding facts and raises provocative questions. Is a termite an individual or a unit of a superorganism? Can we harness the termite's properties to change the world? If we build termite-like swarming robots, will they inevitably destroy us? Is it possible to think without having a mind? Underbug burrows into these questions and many others--unearthing disquieting answers about the world's most underrated insect and what it means to be human.
FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GREAT NATURE WRITERS SUCH AS E.O. WILSON AND CHARMING MEMOIRS LIKE GERALD DURRELL'S MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS, THIS FASCINATING BOOK WILL ALTER THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT BUMBLEBEES.
Dave Goulson became obsessed with wildlife as a small boy growing up in rural Shropshire, starting with an increasingly exotic menagerie of pets. When his interest turned to the anatomical, there were even some ill-fated experiments with taxidermy. But bees are where Goulson's true passion lies--the humble bumblebee in particular.
Once commonly found in the marshes of Kent, the English short-haired bumblebee went extinct in the United Kingdom, but by a twist of fate still exists in the wilds of New Zealand, the descendants of a few pairs shipped over in the nineteenth century. Dave Goulson's passionate quest to reintroduce it to its native land is one of the highlights of a book that includes original research into the habits of these mysterious creatures, history's relationship with the bumblebee, and advice on how to protect the bumblebee for future generations.
One of the United Kingdom's most respected conservationists and the founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Goulson combines lighthearted tales of a child's growing passion for nature with a deep insight into the crucial importance of the bumblebee. He details the minutiae of life in the nest, sharing fascinating research into the effects intensive farming has had on our bee population and the potential dangers if we are to continue down this path.
Learn to identify the butterflies you see, and find out what to plant in your garden so they visit you at home
Butterflies are likely the most popular insects in the entire insect class. With their large, brightly colored wings and beneficial pollinator roles in the ecosystem, it's no wonder they have such a big fan base amongst their human observers. But for anyone who's ever wondered which exact butterfly it is that they're admiring, there's a new resource with all the answers: the Butterflies Backyard Guide.
Replete with more than fifty of the most common butterflies in North America, the book is a fully illustrated guide that makes it easy to identify these fragile winged insects. Each butterfly in the book is presented on a two-page spread with images and facts about the butterfly, as well as tips for what gardeners can plant in order to attract that particular butterfly to visit their backyards. Other information provided for each butterfly includes: size, lifespan, habitat, diet, range, predators, and reproduction. Butterflies Backyard Guide is organized by major butterfly type, so readers can easily flip open the guide and zero in on the facts about the specific butterfly they're identifying.
Keep this guide close at hand for a quick analysis of the iridescent butterflies you see floating from flower to flower. You'll be pointing out Monarchs, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, and Common Buckeyes before you know it.
"Creepy, beautiful, icky and amazing." --Penny Le Couteur, author of Napoleon's Button
Insects have been shaping our ecological world and plant life for over 400 million years. In fact, our world is essentially run by bugs--there are 1.4 billion for every human on the planet. In Bugged, journalist David MacNeal takes us on an off-beat scientific journey that weaves together history, travel, and culture in order to define our relationship with these mini-monsters.
MacNeal introduces a cast of bug-lovers--from a woman facilitating tarantula sex and an exterminator nursing bedbugs (on his own blood), to a kingpin of the black market insect trade and a "maggotologist"--who obsess over the crucial role insects play in our everyday lives.
Just like bugs, this book is global in its scope, diversity, and intrigue. Hands-on with pet beetles in Japan, releasing lab-raised mosquitoes in Brazil, beekeeping on a Greek island, or using urine and antlers as means of ancient pest control, MacNeal's quest appeals to the squeamish and brave alike. Demonstrating insects' amazingly complex mechanics, he strings together varied interactions we humans have with them, like extermination, epidemics, and biomimicry. And, when the journey comes to an end, MacNeal examines their commercial role in our world in an effort to help us ultimately cherish (and maybe even eat) bugs.
A mesmerizing memoir of extraordinary brilliance by an entomologist, The Fly Trap chronicles Fredrik Sjoberg's life collecting hoverflies on a remote island in Sweden. Warm and humorous, self-deprecating and contemplative, and a major best seller in its native country, The Fly Trap is a meditation on the unexpected beauty of small things and an exploration of the history of entomology itself. What drives the obsessive curiosity of collectors to catalog their finds? What is the importance of the hoverfly? As confounded by his unusual vocation as anyone, Sjoberg reflects on a range of ideas--the passage of time, art, lost loves--drawing on sources as disparate as D. H. Lawrence and the fascinating and nearly forgotten naturalist Rene Edmond Malaise. From the wilderness of Kamchatka to the loneliness of the Swedish isle he calls home, Sjoberg revels in the wonder of the natural world and leaves behind a trail of memorable images and stories.
Spiders, objects of eternal human fascination, are found in many places: on the ground, in the air, and even under water. Leslie Brunetta and Catherine Craig have teamed up to produce a substantive yet entertaining book for anyone who has ever wondered, as a spider rappelled out of reach on a line of silk, "How do they do that?"
The orb web, that iconic wheel-shaped web most of us associate with spiders, contains at least four different silk proteins, each performing a different function and all meshing together to create a fly-catching machine that has amazed and inspired humans through the ages. Brunetta and Craig tell the intriguing story of how spiders evolved over 400 million years to add new silks and new uses for silk to their survival "toolkit" and, in the telling, take readers far beyond the orb. The authors describe the trials and triumphs of spiders as they use silk to negotiate an ever-changing environment, and they show how natural selection acts at the genetic level and as individuals struggle for survival.
During the Inaugural Meeting of the European Association of Acarol- ogists (EURAAC), held in Amsterdam in 1987, it was decided that the holding of a Symposium at regular intervals should be a major objective. With this in view, it was agreed that Professor Reinhart Schuster, the senior editor, be invited to accept the Presidency of the Association and, arising from that Office, to organize the first Symposium in Austria in 1988. There was strong support for a main theme focused on a particular aspect of acarology. From these discussions there emerged the proposal that emphasis be placed on aspects of reproduction, development and life-history strategies of the Acari. These were topics in the forefront of the discipline with exciting developments of interest not only to acarologists but to a wider audience because of the light they cast on fundamental processes in physiology, ecology and evolutionary biology. The object then was to invite a small number of key workers to present extended papers related to the main theme. There were seven of these all of which appear in the book. The remaining 51 contributions were offered papers a number of which fit within the framework of the Symposium theme.
This book considers research on insect acoustic behaviour from two divergent approaches to insect behaviour. The first approach involves the current rediscovery of sexual selection and involves the testing of many hypotheses concerning the relative importance of different behavioural strategies to the fitness of the individual. The other approach considers the role of specific neurones within the insect's auditory system. This book aims to integrate these aspects of evolutionary biology and neurophysiology.
In 1906 Castle, Carpenter, Clarke, Mast, and Barrows published a paper entitled "The effects of inbreeding, cross-breeding, and selection upon the fertility and variability of Drosophila." This article, 55 pages long and published in the Proceedings of the Amer- ican Academy, described experiments performed with Drosophila ampe- lophila Lov, "a small dipterous insect known under various popular names such as the little fruit fly, pomace fly, vinegar fly, wine fly, and pickled fruit fly." This study, which was begun in 1901 and published in 1906, was the first published experimental study using Drosophila, subsequently known as Drosophila melanogaster Meigen. Of course, Drosophila was known before the experiments of Cas- tles's group. The small flies swarming around grapes and wine pots have surely been known as long as wine has been produced. The honor of what was the first known misclassification of the fruit flies goes to Fabricius who named them Musca funebris in 1787. It was the Swedish dipterist, C.F. Fallen, who in 1823 changed the name of funebris to Drosophila funebris which was heralding the beginning of the genus Drosophila. Present-day Drosophila research was started just 80 years ago and first published only 75 years ago. Even though the history of Drosophila research is short, the impact and volume of study on Drosophila has been tremendous during the last decades.