Walk near woods or water on any spring or summer night and you will hear a bewildering (and sometimes deafening) chorus of frog, toad, and insect calls. How are these calls produced? What messages are encoded within the sounds, and how do their intended recipients receive and decode these signals? How does acoustic communication affect and reflect behavioral and evolutionary factors such as sexual selection and predator avoidance?
H. Carl Gerhardt and Franz Huber address these questions among many others, drawing on research from bioacoustics, behavior, neurobiology, and evolutionary biology to present the first integrated approach to the study of acoustic communication in insects and anurans. They highlight both the common solutions that these very different groups have evolved to shared challenges, such as small size, ectothermy (cold-bloodedness), and noisy environments, as well as the divergences that reflect the many differences in evolutionary history between the groups. Throughout the book Gerhardt and Huber also provide helpful suggestions for future research.
Influential American architect Philip Johnson once mused, “All architecture is shelter; all great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.” But with just a small swap of a key word, Johnson could well have been describing animal nests. Birds and insects are nature’s premier architects, using a dizzying array of talents to build functional homes in which to live, reproduce, and care for their young. Recycling sticks, branches, grass, and mud to construct their shelters, they are undoubtedly the originators of “green architecture.”
A visual celebration of these natural feats of engineering and ingenuity, Architecture by Birds and Insects allows readers a peek inside a wide range of nests, offering a rare opportunity to get a sense of the materials and methods used to build them. Here, we see the kinds of places where nests are built—for instance, the house wren has been known to occupy cow skulls, flower pots, tin cans, and the pockets of hanging laundry, while the uglynest caterpillar prefers rose bushes and cherry trees. Inspired by the vast nest collection at the Field Museum, which features specimens gathered throughout North and South America, Peggy Macnamara’s paintings are enhanced by text written by museum curators. This narrative provides a foundation in natural history for each painting, as well as fascinating anecdotes about the nests and their builders.
Like so many natural treasures, nests are easy to ignore. But Macnamara’s gorgeous paintings will undoubtedly change that. Architecture by Birds and Insects at last gives the tiniest engineers their rightful moment in the spotlight, and in so doing increases awareness and encourages the protection of birds, insects, and their habitats. Readers will never look at a Frank Gehry design, or a treetop nest, the same way again.
Tiny ruby-throated hummingbirds weighing less than a nickel fly from the upper Midwest to Costa Rica every fall, crossing the six-hundred-mile Gulf of Mexico without a single stop. One of the many creatures that commute on the Mississippi Flyway as part of an annual migration, they pass along Chicago’s lakefront and through midwestern backyards on a path used by their species for millennia. This magnificent migrational dance takes place every year in Chicagoland, yet it is often missed by the region’s two-legged residents. The Art of Migration uncovers these extraordinary patterns that play out over the seasons. Readers are introduced to over two hundred of the birds and insects that traverse regions from the edge of Lake Superior to Lake Michigan and to the rivers that flow into the Mississippi.
As the only artist in residence at the Field Museum, Peggy Macnamara has a unique vantage point for studying these patterns and capturing their distinctive traits. Her magnificent watercolor illustrations capture flocks, movement, and species-specific details. The illustrations are accompanied by text from museum staff and include details such as natural histories, notable features for identification, behavior, and how species have adapted to environmental changes. The book follows a gentle seasonal sequence and includes chapters on studying migration, artist’s notes on illustrating wildlife, and tips on the best ways to watch for birds and insects in the Chicago area.
A perfect balance of science and art, The Art of Migration will prompt us to marvel anew at the remarkable spectacle going on around us.
The Butterflies of Iowa
Dennis W. Schlicht University of Iowa Press, 2007 Library of Congress QL551.I8S35 2007 | Dewey Decimal 595.78909777
This beautiful and comprehensive guide, many years in the making, is a manual for identifying the butterflies of Iowa as well as 90 percent of the butterflies in the Plains states.
It begins by providing information on the natural communities of Iowa, paying special attention to butterfly habitat and distribution. Next come chapters on the history of lepidopteran research in Iowa and on creating butterfly gardens, followed by an intriguing series of questions and issues relevant to the study of butterflies in the state.
The second part contains accounts, organized by family, for the 118 species known to occur in Iowa. Each account includes the common and scientific names for each species, its Opler and Warren number, its status in Iowa, adult flight times and number of broods per season, distinguishing features, distribution and habitat, and natural history information such as behavior and food plant preferences. As a special feature of each account, the authors have included questions that illuminate the research and conservation challenges for each species.
In the third section, the illustrations, grouped for easier comparison among species, include color photographs of all the adult forms that occur in Iowa. Male and female as well as top and bottom views are shown for most species. The distribution maps indicate in which of Iowa’s ninety-nine counties specimens have been collected; flight times for each species are shown by marking the date of collection for each verified specimen on a yearly calendar.
The book ends with a checklist, collection information specific to the photographs, a glossary, references, and an index. The authors’ meticulous attention to detail, stimulating questions for students and researchers, concern for habitat preservation, and joyful appreciation of the natural world make it a valuable and inspiring volume.
Thanks to its size and geographic position, Texas is home to nearly 30,000 species of insects, likely making its insect population the most diverse in the nation. Ranging from eastern and western to temperate and tropical species, this vast array of insects can be difficult to identify. In Common Insects of Texas and Surrounding States, John and Kendra Abbott have created the state's most comprehensive field guide to help readers recognize and understand these fascinating creatures.
Containing 1,300 species and more than 2,700 photographs, this guide offers a wealth of information about the characteristics and behaviors of Texas's insects. Each chapter introduces an order with a discussion of general natural history and a description of other qualities helpful in distinguishing its various species, while every species' entry provides a state map showing where it is most likely to be found, a key displaying its seasonal distribution, information about its habitat, and corresponding photos. Featuring colored tabs for quick reference, a glossary, and information about other arthropods, this guide is the perfect companion for anyone wanting to identify and learn more about the many insects of Texas.
Throughout the Middle Ages, enormously popular bestiaries presented people with descriptions of rare and unusual animals, typically paired with a moral or religious lesson. In The Earwig's Tail, entomologist May Berenbaum and illustrator Jay Hosler draw on the powerful cultural symbols of these antiquated books to create a beautiful and witty bestiary of the insect world.
For Love of Insects
Thomas Eisner Harvard University Press, 2005 Library of Congress QL463.E38 2003 | Dewey Decimal 595.7
Imagine beetles ejecting defensive sprays as hot as boiling water; female moths holding their mates for ransom; caterpillars disguising themselves as flowers by fastening petals to their bodies; termites emitting a viscous glue to rally fellow soldiers--and you will have entered an insect world once beyond imagining, a world observed and described down to its tiniest astonishing detail by Thomas Eisner. The story of a lifetime of such minute explorations, For Love of Insects celebrates the small creatures that have emerged triumphant on the planet, the beneficiaries of extraordinary evolutionary inventiveness and unparalleled reproductive capacity.
To understand the success of insects is to appreciate our own shortcomings, Eisner tells us, but never has a reckoning been such a pleasure. Recounting exploits and discoveries in his lab at Cornell and in the field in Uruguay, Australia, Panama, Europe, and North America, Eisner time and again demonstrates how inquiry into the survival strategies of an insect leads to clarifications beyond the expected; insects are revealed as masters of achievement, forms of life worthy of study and respect from even the most recalcitrant entomophobe. Filled with descriptions of his ingenious experiments and illustrated with photographs unmatched for their combination of scientific content and delicate beauty, Eisner's book makes readers participants in the grand adventure of discovery on a scale infinitesimally small, and infinitely surprising.
Illinois Insects and Spiders
Paintings by Peggy Macnamara University of Chicago Press, 2005 Library of Congress QL475.I3M33 2005 | Dewey Decimal 595.709773
Recent estimates put the world's insect population at more than forty million species. Here in Illinois, the numbers are equally awesome: seventeen thousand species call the state home, among them four thousand types of flies; fifteen hundred types of grasshoppers, cicadas, and aphids; five thousand types of beetles; two hundred types of ants, wasps, and bees; and two thousand types of butterflies and moths. With so much entomological diversity here in the Midwest, Illinois residents needn't look further than their own backyards to discover the rich and secret world of insects and spiders.
Marrying art and entomology, Illinois Insects and Spiders is a unique introduction to local biodiversity. Artist Peggy Macnamara celebrates the state's burgeoning insect and spider populations with twenty-seven color plates of beautiful renderings of numerous species, organized both taxonomically and thematically. The insects on each plate are depicted true to scale in relation to one another and are displayed approximately ten times larger than life size. Accompanying each plate are lively captions-written by Field Museum curators and collection managers-that identify the species and reveal their interesting behaviors and unique habitats.
Illinois Insects and Spiders encourages readers to explore the biodiversity at their feet-in the shiny beetles on the ground-and in the air-in the glint of a lightning bug in summer. More than a traditional field guide, Illinois Insects and Spiders is the rare book that combines lush artwork with the science of natural history, bringing both closer to the general reader.
When John Alcock replaced the Bermuda grass in his suburban Arizona lawn with gravel, cacti, and fairy dusters, he was doing more than creating desert landscaping. He seeded his property with flowers to entice certain insects and even added a few cowpies to attract termites, creating a personal laboratory for ecological studies. His observations of life in his own front yard provided him with the fieldnotes for this unusual book. In a Desert Garden draws readers into the strange and fascinating world of plants and animals native to Arizona's Sonoran Desert.
As Alcock studies the plants in his yard, he shares thoughts on planting, weeding, and pruning that any gardener will appreciate. And when commenting on the mating rituals of spiders and beetles or marveling at the camouflage of grasshoppers and caterpillars, he uses humor and insight to detail the lives of the insects that live in his patch of desert. Celebrating the virtues of even aphids and mosquitoes, Alcock draws the reader into the intricacies of desert life to reveal the complex interactions found in this unique ecosystem. In a Desert Garden combines meticulous science with contemplations of nature and reminds us that a world of wonder lies just outside our own doors.
Why would a grown man chase hornets with a thermometer, paint whirligig beetles bright red, or track elephants through the night to fill trash bags with their prodigious droppings? Some might say—to advance science. Bernd Heinrich says—because it’s fun.
Heinrich, author of the much acclaimed Bumblebee Economics, has been playing in the wilds of one continent or another all his life. In the process, he has become one of the world’s foremost physiological ecologists. With In a Patch of Fireweed, he will undoubtedly become one of our foremost writers of popular science.
Part autobiography, part case study in the ways of field biology, In a Patch of Fireweed is an endlessly fascinating account of a scientist’s life and work. For the author, it is an opportunity to report not just his results but the curiosity, humor, error, passion, and competitiveness that feed into the process of discovery. For the reader, it is simply a delight, a rare chance to share the perceptions of an unusual mind fully in tune with the inner workings of nature. Before his years of research in the woodlands and deserts of North America, the New Guinea highlands, and the plains of East Africa, Heinrich had a sense of the wild that few people in this century can know. He tells the whole story, from his refugee childhood hidden in a German forest, eating mice fried in boar fat, to his ongoing research in the woods surrounding his cabin in Maine.
Since the early nineteenth century, when entomologists first popularized the unique biological and behavioral characteristics of insects, technological innovators and theorists have proposed insects as templates for a wide range of technologies. In Insect Media, Jussi Parikka analyzes how insect forms of social organization-swarms, hives, webs, and distributed intelligence-have been used to structure modern media technologies and the network society, providing a radical new perspective on the interconnection of biology and technology.
Through close engagement with the pioneering work of insect ethologists, including Jakob von Uexküll and Karl von Frisch, posthumanist philosophers, media theorists, and contemporary filmmakers and artists, Parikka develops an insect theory of media, one that conceptualizes modern media as more than the products of individual human actors, social interests, or technological determinants. They are, rather, profoundly nonhuman phenomena that both draw on and mimic the alien lifeworlds of insects.
Deftly moving from the life sciences to digital technology, from popular culture to avant-garde art and architecture, and from philosophy to cybernetics and game theory, Parikka provides innovative conceptual tools for exploring the phenomena of network society and culture. Challenging anthropocentric approaches to contemporary science and culture, Insect Media reveals the possibilities that insects and other nonhuman animals offer for rethinking media, the conflation of biology and technology, and our understanding of, and interaction with, contemporary digital culture.
Eric C. Brown University of Minnesota Press, 2006 Library of Congress PN56.I63I57 2006 | Dewey Decimal 809.9336257
Insects are everywhere. There are millions of species sharing the world with humans and other animals. Though literally woven into the fabric of human affairs, insects are considered alien from the human world. Animal studies and rights have become a fecund field, but for the most part scant attention has been paid to the relationship between insects and humans. Insect Poetics redresses that imbalance by welcoming insects into the world of letters and cultural debate.
In Insect Poetics, the first book to comprehensively explore the cultural and textual meanings of bugs, editor Eric Brown argues that insects are humanity’s “other.” In order to be experienced, the insect world must be mediated by art or technology (as in the case of an ant farm or Kafka’s Metamorphoses) while humans observe, detached and fascinated.
In eighteen original essays, this book illuminates the ways in which our human intellectual and cultural models have been influenced by the natural history of insects. Through critical readings contributors address such topics as performing insects in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, the cockroach in the contemporary American novel, the butterfly’s “voyage out” in Virginia Woolf, and images of insect eating in literature and popular culture. In surprising ways, contributors tease out the particularities of insects as cultural signifiers and propose ways of thinking about “insectivity,” suggesting fertile cross-pollinations between entomology and the arts, between insects and the humanities.
Contributors: May Berenbaum, Yves Cambefort, Marion W. Copeland, Nicky Coutts, Bertrand Gervais, Sarah Gordon, Cristopher Hollingsworth, Heather Johnson, Richard J. Leskosky, Tony McGowan, Erika Mae Olbricht, Marc Olivier, Roy Rosenstein, Rachel Sarsfield, Charlotte Sleigh, Andre Stipanovic.
Eric C. Brown is assistant professor of English at the University of Maine at Farmington. He has written previously about insects and eschatology in Edmund Spenser’s Muiopotmos.
The insects are the world's most amazing animals and comprise over eighty-five percent of the known animal species. Insects of the Great Lakes Region is the first comprehensive guide to document the rich and diverse insect fauna of the Great Lakes region. In Insects of the Great Lakes Region, educators, insect enthusiasts, and the general public will find high-quality, well-presented, easy-to-understand information with over 250 illustrations of the insects found in yards, gardens, fields, and forests. Among the topics discussed are the geological, biological, and entomological history of the Great Lakes region, the distributional patterns of insects in the Great Lakes region, and insect classification and identification. Appendixes guide the reader to entomological organizations, entomological periodicals, public insect collections, regulations on collecting insects from public lands in the Great Lakes region, as well as rare, threatened, and endangered insects. This guide shows the amateur entomologist everything he needs to know, from where to collect milkweed bugs to how often to feed his pet tarantula.
Gary Dunn is Executive Director and Editor, Young Entomologists' Society, Inc., International Headquarters, Lansing, Michigan.
In this classic of natural history, National Medal of Science winner May Berenbaum weaves a web of spellbinding portraits that acquaints readers with the multitudes sharing our world and, alas, our kitchen. Go small or go home as Berenbaum reveals:
Why the "Jesus bug" can walk on water
How the katydid’s nighttime noise inspired romantic poetry
The trapping prowess of the hungry antlion
That disgusting thing chiggers do to eat your skin
A witty and educational guide that’s as accessible as the container of flour you should have closed more tightly, Ninety-nine Gnats, Nits, and Nibblers is the fascinating story of our million closest neighbors.
What lives in a reindeer’s nose? Glad you asked. In this sequel to Ninety-nine Gnats, Nits, and Nibblers, National Medal of Science winner May Berenbaum offers another classic compendium of creepy-crawly cameos. Read up on our myriad arthropodan indignities and allies as Berenbaum reveals:
Why the rove beetle gives mind-altering drugs to ants
How the snail-killing fly enjoys its escargot
Why Piophila casei doesn’t care when you eat its larvae
What strange fate awaits a honey ant worker engorged with nectar
As lively as a fly in the buttermilk, Ninety-nine More Maggots, Mites, and Munchers is a who’s who and what’s THAT? guide to Lilliputian life-forms both familiar and obscure.
In this landmark volume, an international group of scientists has synthesized their collective expertise and insight into a newly unified vision of insect societies and what they can reveal about how sociality has arisen as an evolutionary strategy.
Jürgen Gadau and Jennifer Fewell have assembled leading researchers from the fields of molecular biology, evolutionary genetics, neurophysiology, behavioral ecology, and evolutionary theory to reexamine the question of sociality in insects. Recent advances in social complexity theory and the sequencing of the honeybee genome ensure that this book will be valued by anyone working on sociality in insects. At the same time, the theoretical ideas presented will be of broad-ranging significance to those interested in social evolution and complex systems.
Dinosaurs, however toothy, did not rule the earth—and neither do humans. But what were and are the true potentates of our planet? Insects, says Scott Richard Shaw—millions and millions of insect species. Starting in the shallow oceans of ancient Earth and ending in the far reaches of outer space—where, Shaw proposes, insect-like aliens may have achieved similar preeminence—Planet of the Bugs spins a sweeping account of insects’ evolution from humble arthropod ancestors into the bugs we know and love (or fear and hate) today.
Leaving no stone unturned, Shaw explores how evolutionary innovations such as small body size, wings, metamorphosis, and parasitic behavior have enabled insects to disperse widely, occupy increasingly narrow niches, and survive global catastrophes in their rise to dominance. Through buggy tales by turns bizarre and comical—from caddisflies that construct portable houses or weave silken aquatic nets to trap floating debris, to parasitic wasp larvae that develop in the blood of host insects and, by storing waste products in their rear ends, are able to postpone defecation until after they emerge—he not only unearths how changes in our planet’s geology, flora, and fauna contributed to insects’ success, but also how, in return, insects came to shape terrestrial ecosystems and amplify biodiversity. Indeed, in his visits to hyperdiverse rain forests to highlight the current insect extinction crisis, Shaw reaffirms just how crucial these tiny beings are to planetary health and human survival.
In this age of honeybee die-offs and bedbugs hitching rides in the spines of library books, Planet of the Bugs charms with humor, affection, and insight into the world’s six-legged creatures, revealing an essential importance that resonates across time and space.
"Cris Hollingsworth's waggle dance after scouting the rangiest field of literature--Virgil and Homer down to Milton and Swift, on to Plath and Byatt$151;leads you to where the nectar hides. . . . He wisely roams, extracting an anthology of poetry, prose, psychology, history&151;most of all, perception--that tops the bee's knees." --Paul West, author of The Secret Life of Words
"Hollingsworth's wide-ranging exploration of the image of the hive is impressive. Poetics of the Hive and its panoply of references cannot fail to enrich university classrooms, especially those devoted to both the visual arts and literature." --Dore Ashton, author of A Fable of Modern Art
"Cris Hollingsworth's Poetics of the Hive . . . is complex, even daring in argument; I'm even more impressed by [his] skill at an increasingly rare critical art, the educing of argument from careful, often brilliant analytical reading of literary texts." --Thomas R. Edwards, executive editor of Raritan: A Quarterly Review
A study to delight the passionate reader, Poetics of the Hive tells the story of the evolution of the insect metaphor from antiquity to the multicultural present. An experiment in the &147;evolutionary biology&148; of artistic form, Poetics of the Hive freshly examines classic works of literature, offering a view of poetic creation that complicates our ideas of the past and its formative role in modern consciousness and world literature.
In the first part of this lyrical synthesis of rhetoric, visual and postmodern theory, and cognitive science, Cristopher Hollingsworth reveals the structure behind his metaphor, redefining it as an aesthetically and philosophically potent tableau that he calls the Hive. He traces the Hive's evolution in epic poetry from Homer to Milton, which establishes antithetical but complementary images of angelic and demonic bees that Swift, Mandeville, and Keats use variously to debate classical versus emerging ideas of the individual's relationship to society. But the Hive becomes fully psychologized, Hollingsworth argues, only when its use by Conrad and Wells to explore Europe's colonial imagination of the Other is transformed by Kafka and Sartre into competing symbols of the modern self's existential condition.
Cristopher Hollingsworth is an assistant professor of English at St. John's University, Staten Island.
Mostly tiny, infinitely delicate, and short-lived, insects and their relatives—arthropods—nonetheless outnumber all their fellow creatures on earth. How lowly arthropods achieved this unlikely preeminence is a story deftly and colorfully told in this follow-up to the award-winning For Love of Insects. Part handbook, part field guide, part photo album, Secret Weapons chronicles the diverse and often astonishing defensive strategies that have allowed insects, spiders, scorpions, and other many-legged creatures not just to survive, but to thrive.
In 69 chapters, each brilliantly illustrated with photographs culled from Thomas Eisner’s legendary collection, we meet a largely North American cast of arthropods—as well as a few of their kin from Australia, Europe, and Asia—and observe at firsthand the nature and extent of the defenses that lie at the root of their evolutionary success. Here are the cockroaches and termites, the carpenter ants and honeybees, and all the miniature creatures in between, deploying their sprays and venom, froth and feces, camouflage and sticky coatings. And along with a marvelous bug’s-eye view of how these secret weapons actually work, here is a close-up look at the science behind them, from taxonomy to chemical formulas, as well as an appendix with instructions for studying chemical defenses at home.
Whether dipped into here and there or read cover-to-cover, Secret Weapons will prove invaluable to hands-on researchers and amateur naturalists alike, and will captivate any reader for whom nature is a source of wonder.
A water strider darts across a pond, its feet dimpling the surface tension; a giant water bug dives below, carrying his mate’s eggs on his back; hidden among plant roots on the silty bottom, a dragonfly larva stalks unwary minnows. Barely skimming the surface, in the air above the pond, swarm mayflies with diaphanous wings. Take this walk around the pond with Gilbert Waldbauer and discover the most amazingly diverse inhabitants of the freshwater world.
In his hallmark companionable style, Waldbauer introduces us to the aquatic insects that have colonized ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers, especially those in North America. Along the way we learn about the diverse forms these arthropods take, as well as their remarkable modes of life—how they have radiated into every imaginable niche in the water environment, and how they cope with the challenges such an environment poses to respiration, vision, thermoregulation, and reproduction. We encounter the caddis fly larva building its protective case and camouflaging it with stream detritus; green darner dragonflies mating midair in an acrobatic wheel formation; ants that have adapted to the tiny water environment within a pitcher plant; and insects whose adaptations to the aquatic lifestyle are furnishing biomaterials engineers with ideas for future applications in industry and consumer goods.
While learning about the evolution, natural history, and ecology of these insects, readers also discover more than a little about the scientists who study them.
This book, the first to catalogue ecologically important insects by their roles, gives us an enlightening look at how insects work in ecosystems--what they do, how they live, and how they make life as we know it possible. Waldbauer combines anecdotes from entomological history with insights into the intimate workings of the natural world, describing the intriguing and sometimes amazing behavior of these tiny creatures. As entertaining as it is informative, this charmingly illustrated volume captures the full sweep of insects' integral place in the web of life.
As we follow the path of a giant water bug or peer over the wing of a gypsy moth, we glimpse our world anew, at once shrunk and magnified. Owing to their size alone, insects’ experience of the world is radically different from ours. Air to them is as viscous as water to us. The predicament of size, along with the dizzying diversity of insects and their status as arguably the most successful organisms on earth, have inspired passion and eloquence in some of the world’s most innovative scientists. A World of Insects showcases classic works on insect behavior, physiology, and ecology published over half a century by Harvard University Press.
James Costa, Vincent Dethier, Thomas Eisner, Lee Goff, Bernd Heinrich, Bert Hölldobler, Kenneth Roeder, Andrew Ross, Thomas Seeley, Karl von Frisch, Gilbert Waldbauer, E. O. Wilson, and Mark Winston—each writer, in his unique voice, paints a close-up portrait of the ways insects explore their environment, outmaneuver their enemies, mate, and care for kin.
Selected by two world-class entomologists, these essays offer compelling descriptions of insect cooperation and warfare, the search for ancient insect DNA in amber, and the energy economics of hot-blooded insects. They also discuss the impact—for good and ill—of insects on our food supply, their role in crime scene investigation, and the popular fascination with pheromones, killer bees, and fire ants. Each entry begins with commentary on the authors, their topics, and the latest research in the field.