Book Review: The Complete Insect.

Laptop Crash.

Hello Everyone. You liked last week’s blog, so I did a bit more research to share some interesting information on drones. However, the laptop threw a wobbly on the weekend and crashed. Now, I’ve lost all my data, including email account and addresses, which is more than frustrating and I’m waiting to hear news from the repair shop today. Hopefully, they can retrieve the data and make me happy again, not least because 2,000 words destined for a Northern Bee Books publication is amongst them.

I’m going on tour on Thursday and hope to interview a bee farmer in the South of Scotland.

Feel-good Factor.

Meanwhile, I want to share the review of one of the most amazing books that I’ve read lately. I’m privileged to be invited by Princeton University Press to review certain books on a regular basis. It is hard work but I get to keep the books which is great for me and I’ve got a library of some weight on the shelves surrounding my desk. If you lived nearby, I would lend them to you.

I don’t know how it works for you but when I am outside connecting with nature, I get profound feelings of peace and tranquility. Real feel-good endorphin releasing moments; they are great. Well, looking at the photographs of The Complete Insect does almost the same thing and it is relaxing to open the pages on a wet day when you don’t feel like going outside.

Book Review.

Title: The Complete Insect

Editor: David A. Grimaldi

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Year Published: August 2023

Hardback: Coffee table-sized book, 368 pages

ISBN: 978-0-691-24310-8

Cost: £30. Available from Northern Bee Books and other good bookstores.

The Complete Insect is an astounding book because it is a scientific publication yet is relevant to readers of all ages and abilities who are engaged in the study of insects, and in the pursuit of pure pleasure.

Among this book’s 368 pages, there are over 350 magnificent photographs, organised within six chapters. There is a contents page and foreword by Drs Phil De Vries, and Carla Penz. Readers will find a useful glossary, index, and recommended further reading list.

This beautiful piece of work is a collaboration between several distinguished entomologists. Dr David Grimaldi has written the introductory first chapter, and the last chapter which is dedicated to the impacts of humans and the environment on insects. In the second chapter, Dr Steven Davies writes about the structure and function of insects in exquisite detail. In Chapters 3 and 4, Dr Jessica Fox explains the evolutionary development of wings and flight, Dr Isabelle Vea covers the fascinating subject of insect development, metamorphosis, and growth which we discover is so different across the orders. In Chapter 5, Dr Michael Engels, world authority on bees and insect diversity, leads the reader on an adventure through insect natural history giving an outline of insect evolution and development from when the first insects crawled onto dry land from the ocean.

Given that there are 26 living orders of insects with over 380, 000 species in over 1,000 families, it is both remarkable and reassuring that several thousand new species of insects are discovered, named, and described each year. We learn about extinction rates and how the number of species increases when it is higher than the extinction rate. If you have ever wondered how an animal made up of the same main functional parts of head, thorax, and abdomen can vary so much, all will be revealed in Chapter 2. You will find the answers there and learn about the role that homeobox genes play. The first insect wings might only have functioned to protect the legs and spiracles, but we learn how and why evolution made insect flight possible, and we can also better understand insect diversity and behaviour.

Modern technology and recent advance in microscopy and macrophotography have helped enormously in making this breathtakingly beautiful book unique. On one hand, the scientific detail is aimed at students, but the book is laid out in such a way as to appeal to everyone wanting to know more about insects. Information is given in bite-sized chunks under clear headings so that it is an ideal reference book for students and for readers wanting specific information to help them understand a particular insect that they may have just discovered in their back garden.

Considering the importance of insects in our fast-changing world in which securing food and protecting the environment is paramount for the survival of future generations, this book has arrived at a good time. The Complete Insect will make a useful addition to college and school libraries, and beekeeping association bookshelves. Children will be encouraged to explore this book with parents, grandparents, aunties, and uncles who will equally relish this book. The photographs will transport the reader to a special place whether it be one of deep relaxation, wonder and awe, adventure, or simply pure happiness.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Complete Insect.”

  1. I really appreciate learning about this book, Ann, so I thank you for describing it in your blog. The chapter authors that you mention are among the top entomologists worldwide, and it sounds like Princeton U Press has done a fine job of producing this book. Good to know!

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