Book Buzz: From butterflies to bees

Perhaps you are as surprised as I was that it was possible to compile a list of new book titles about bugs that were actually worth reading. Well never think never. This week Book Buzz proposes a handful of reads on the interesting topic of insects. From butterflies to bees and insect antics to bug browsers check out these cool bug books available at your neighborhood library. 

Happy reading!

The Dangerous World of Butterflies

The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists

By Peter Laufer, PhD

595.78907 La

Laufer chronicles his adventures within the butterfly industry and butterfly underground in this absorbing book that explores the crossroads where humans and butterflies meet. He examines the allure of the insect and its role in history and across cultures in mythology and art. Then he unexpectedly segues to organized crime, ecological devastation, species depletion, the integrity of museum collections and chaos theory.

Insect Museum

Describing 114 Species of Insects and Other Arthropods, Including their Natural History and Environment

By Sonia Dourlot

595.7 Do

Discover butterflies, dragonflies, beetles, spiders and centipedes in a striking and original way. Large format photographs help readers appreciate the aesthetics of each tiny creature’s form and color. Like a trip to the museum, with each insect you learn the origins, common names, scientific names, significance of each bug, details of its distribution and habitat, its natural history, and details on the habits it developed to survive and reproduce. For more beautiful bugs, check out the wonderful 500 Insects: A Visual Reference by Stephen A. Marshall or Insects, Spiders and other Terrestrial Arthropods by George C. McGavern.

The Leafcutter Ants

Civilization by Instinct

By Bert Holldobler and Edward O. Wilson

595.796 Ho

With a text suitable for both lay and scientific audiences, this book provides an unforgettable tour of Earth’s most evolved animal societies. Each colony of leafcutters contains as many as five million workers, the daughters of a single queen that can live over a decade. A gigantic nest can stretch thirty feet across, rise five feet above the ground and consist of hundreds of chambers that reach twenty-five feet below the ground surface. For more on ants try Ant Encounters: Interaction Networks and Colony Behavior by Deborah M. Gordon or Alien Empire: An Exploration of the Lives of Insects by Christopher O’Toole.

The Songs of Insects

By Lang Elliott and Wil Hershberger

YA 595.7159 El

Enter this unique doorway to enjoyment of the insect concerts and solos that dominate the summer and autumn soundscape. The book covers seventy-seven common species of crickets, katydids, locusts and cicadas and includes information on the natural history of insects, identification tips and an appreciation of insect song. The accompanying CD features high-quality audio recordings of the songs of all the species in the book.

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

By Elizabeth Tova Bailey

594.38 Ba

Bailey demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature in this inspiring and intimate story of her encounter with a Neohelix albolabris-a common woodland snail (a bug, but not an insect). While an illness keeps her bedridden, Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence on her nightstand.  She discovers the solace and sense of wonder that this mysterious creature brings and comes to a greater understanding of her own confined place in the world.

Sweetness and Light

The Mysterious History of the Honeybee

By Hattie Ellis

595.799 El

The bee and its products have been harnessed by doctors, philosophers, scientists, politicians, artists, writers, and architects throughout the ages as both metaphor and material.  From the Stone Age to the contemporary cutting edge and from Nepalese honey hunters to urban hives on the rooftops of New York City Ellis weaves history, science and traveler’s tales into the story of bees and honey. Honey is much more than just a food, and bees are more than mere insects. For information on beekeeping try The New Complete Guide to Beekeeping by Roger A. Morse or The Backyard Beekeeper by Kim Flottum.

What Bit Me?

Identifying Hawaii’s Stinging and Biting Insects and Their Kin

By Gordon M. Nishida and Joann M. Tenorio

H615.942 Ni

This reference covers stinging and biting insects, spiders, mites, ticks, and their relatives commonly encountered by humans and pets in Hawaii.  It explains the history, life cycle, structure and the venoms and toxins known for each pest species. It includes tips on recognizing what has bitten or stung you, distinguishing nuisances from those that are potentially dangerous and how to treat the wounds safely. The authors have also written What’s Bugging Me? Identifying and Controlling Household Pests in Hawaii. You may also be interested in Hawaiian Insects and Their Kin by Francis G. Howarth or Hawaii’s Butterflies and Moths by Dean Jamieson and Jim Denny.

• Carolyn Larson, head librarian at Lihu‘e Public Library, brings you the buzz on new, popular and good books available at your neighborhood library. Book annotations are culled from online publishers’ descriptions and published reviews.


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