A Brief Compendium Of Insect Lore by Eric R. Eaton 

I couldn't wait to read 'Insectpedia - A Brief Compendium Of Insect Lore'  by Eric R. Eaton.  The title alone immediately piqued my interest.  It's part of a Princeton University "Pedia" series, and having an interest not only in all things "bee" but all things "bug and insect" too, I was eager to make space for it on my bookcase. 

I wasn't disappointed!

This engaging and delightful A-Z of the insect world, is packed full of fascinating, and often amusing facts.  On the one hand, the format makes this great little book easy to dip in and out of; on the other, Eaton's wit and enthusiasm for his subject keeps you turning the pages.

Insectpedia by Eric R Eaton front book cover

The scope of this little book is impressive.  This celebration of the insect realm not only provides a 'Who's Who' of entomology past and present, it covers a fascinating sampling of social history too: the origins of the flea circus, Napoleon and Ghengis Khan's maggots, the news commentary of Archy the Cockroach, and how boll weevils "single-snoutedly" brought the US cotton industry to its knees in the 1900s, and much more. 

Archy the Cockroach - illustrations by Amy Jean PorterNobody could be offended by Archie's comment on the current state of affairs - after all, Archie was a cockroach!

Boll weevil - illustrations by Amy Jean PorterBoll weevils brought the US cotton industry to its knees in the 1900s. Nevertheless, there's a monument to the things, and a song about them topped the blues charts!

Eaton doesn't disappoint with the science either.   He explains topics like 'bioluminescence' (glow-in-the-dark) mechanisms in digestible form, 
and neatly clears up a few misunderstandings too (such as the difference between a cocoon and a chrysalis).

Cautionary tales and pro-conservation messages sit neatly alongside each other, as Eaton provides examples of the hazards of monoculture, pesticides, habitat loss, and globalization's porous borders; and concisely and repeatedly explains the important role of insects in the ecosystem.

The real stars of this lovely cloth-bound book are, of course, the insects themselves: from frog-eating beetles and exploding ants, there is much to learn, be surprised and entertained by. 

Indeed, by the time you have finished this book, you'll know what hair-pencils are, may find yourself cringing over the nuptial gifts of male mantids, and then tipping your hat to a biting midge as you tuck into a bar of chocolate.

This book is available from a range of retailers including Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmith, Coles, Princeton Press, Northern Bee Books, and other outlets.

Illustrations by Amy Jean Porter

Hardcover Price: $16.95 / £9.99 

ISBN: 9780691210346. is a member of the Amazon Associates Program.

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John Lewis-Stempel

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John Lewis-Stempel

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leafcutter bee on sweet pea plant sweet peas for bees