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Insects Through The Seasons

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Overview


They appeared on earth 400 million years ago, long before the first reptile, bird, or mammal. They make up about 75 percent of the 1.2 million currently known species of animals. As many as 30,000 of them coexist and interact in one square yard of the top inch of a forest's soil. The unparalleled success of insects is the story told in this highly entertaining book. How do these often tiny but indefatigable creatures do it? Gilbert Waldbauer pursues this question from hot springs and Himalayan slopes to roadsides and forests, scrutinizing insect life in its many manifestations. Insects through the Seasons will educate and charm the expert, the passionate amateur, and the merely curious about our most populous and tenacious neighbors.
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Editorial Reviews

Philadelphia Inquirer

[Waldbauer's] style is lively and light, and he manages to explain scientific evidence behind the ideas he presents without lapsing into jargon. His passages describing insect life can be poetic...The book delivers a sophisticated view of ecology, evolution and animal behavior...Sure, Insects through the Seasons has more sex and violence than prime-time TV, but this is the real birds and the bees, and Waldbauer tells it like it is.
— Faye Flam

New Scientist

Insects through the Seasons...is a joyous romp through amazing-but-true natural history stories of what makes insects tick...Waldbauer's clear prose is full of fascinating detail, and it is a pleasure to read. His enthusiasm for his subject comes through loud and clear, a vital ingredient for interesting readers in what he has to say...Even for the professional entomologist, there is plenty that may well be new. There are vignettes here to delight any reader, including a great deal from Waldbauer's research naturally.
— Francis Gilbert

BBC Wildlife

Insects through the Seasons is chock-a-block with insect facts, anecdotes and good, old-fashioned natural history...There are chapters on courtship, caring for offspring and finding food, which Waldbauer manages to keep fresh by resisting the use of well-trodden examples. There are also more unusual chapters on, for example, insects' use of silk and the problems faced (and solved) by parasitic insects. Throughout, Waldbauer places his insects in the wider context of the natural world as a whole...[An] inspirational book.
— Stuart Blackman

Washington Times
Mr. Waldbauer...knows his bugs and is a masterful storyteller as well. His protagonist is the cecropia moth, common nocturnal insect of the Midwest. He follows it through its life cycle, digressing frequently...The many stories of the 'most successful animals on earth' are fascinating...Mr. Waldbauer's entertaining tales of insect behavior gracefully illustrate contemporary evolutionary biology theory...Without insects or with a drastic decrease in their activity, the world as we know it would cease. Mr. Waldbauer's story of the gentle cecropia moth goes far toward explaining why.
Booklist
A natural-history treasury, this elegantly illustrated volume traces the life cycles of numerous insect species by describing their methods of courtship, mating, raising young, self-defense, recognizing and eating food, and surviving seasonal changes.
Nature

Gilbert Waldbauer is one of those few lucky people paid to pursue their hobby. Reading Insects Through the Seasons, one discovers why he finds entomology endlessly fascinating...And as if his words, a blend of science and sentiment, were not enough to bring the subject to life, a cecropia moth flies across the bottom corner of the book as one flicks the pages. Here readers will discover strange stories and fantastic facts about the lives of insects and the many ways in which millions of years of evolution have equipped these organisms, arguably the most successful on our planet.
— George C. McGavin

Key Reporter

These excellent books [Gilbert Waldbauer's Insects through the Seasons and Bernd Heinrich's Thermal Warriors] are best read fully and carefully, and in the order just listed. Each summarizes a wealth of intriguing information about a group often and justifiably characterized as the most successful of living creatures. Waldbauer, in the more general of the two books, has hit on the clever scheme of following insect life through the changing demands of seasonal changes, thus giving structure to a wealth of information. Heinrich, by contrast, provides a dazzling account of a particular and little-known aspect of insect life—thermoregulation.
— Russell Stevens, Phi Beta Kappa

Philadelphia Inquirer - Faye Flam
[Waldbauer's] style is lively and light, and he manages to explain scientific evidence behind the ideas he presents without lapsing into jargon. His passages describing insect life can be poetic...The book delivers a sophisticated view of ecology, evolution and animal behavior...Sure, Insects through the Seasons has more sex and violence than prime-time TV, but this is the real birds and the bees, and Waldbauer tells it like it is.
New Scientist - Francis Gilbert
Insects through the Seasons...is a joyous romp through amazing-but-true natural history stories of what makes insects tick...Waldbauer's clear prose is full of fascinating detail, and it is a pleasure to read. His enthusiasm for his subject comes through loud and clear, a vital ingredient for interesting readers in what he has to say...Even for the professional entomologist, there is plenty that may well be new. There are vignettes here to delight any reader, including a great deal from Waldbauer's research naturally.
BBC Wildlife - Stuart Blackman
Insects through the Seasons is chock-a-block with insect facts, anecdotes and good, old-fashioned natural history...There are chapters on courtship, caring for offspring and finding food, which Waldbauer manages to keep fresh by resisting the use of well-trodden examples. There are also more unusual chapters on, for example, insects' use of silk and the problems faced (and solved) by parasitic insects. Throughout, Waldbauer places his insects in the wider context of the natural world as a whole...[An] inspirational book.
Nature - George C. McGavin
Gilbert Waldbauer is one of those few lucky people paid to pursue their hobby. Reading Insects Through the Seasons, one discovers why he finds entomology endlessly fascinating...And as if his words, a blend of science and sentiment, were not enough to bring the subject to life, a cecropia moth flies across the bottom corner of the book as one flicks the pages. Here readers will discover strange stories and fantastic facts about the lives of insects and the many ways in which millions of years of evolution have equipped these organisms, arguably the most successful on our planet.
Key Reporter - Russell Stevens
These excellent books [Gilbert Waldbauer's Insects through the Seasons and Bernd Heinrich's Thermal Warriors] are best read fully and carefully, and in the order just listed. Each summarizes a wealth of intriguing information about a group often and justifiably characterized as the most successful of living creatures. Waldbauer, in the more general of the two books, has hit on the clever scheme of following insect life through the changing demands of seasonal changes, thus giving structure to a wealth of information. Heinrich, by contrast, provides a dazzling account of a particular and little-known aspect of insect life--thermoregulation.
Booklist - Ray Olson
Tracing an animal's life through the seasons is a common strategy for the single-species monograph, but it is a mere marker for this book. Waldbauer uses the yearly cycle of the cecropia moth as a base to which he periodically returns while presenting an impressive array of the tactics the moth's fellow insects and arthropod relatives use to live and thrive. Those methods...are phenomenally various and gratifyingly intriguing...A real natural history treasury, this is an elegant volume, too, thanks to the many excellent line drawings that entertainingly include a flip-book of a cecropia in flight on the lower right-hand-page corners.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Their numbers are staggering-about 900,000 species-75% of all known species of animals, and they have been successful for 400 million years. Insects are indispensable members of almost all ecosystems, says the author, professor emeritus of entomology at the University of Illinois. Taking the cecropia moth as a central character, Waldbauer follows it through the seasons, from egg to larva, pupa and adult. We learn about insect courtship and mating, strategies for avoiding predators and defense against them, camouflage and mimicry and reciprocal relationships between plants and insects. The author discusses the importance of insects as pollinators and scavengers; on the subject of silkworms, he points out that the silk moth has been in cultivation for so long that it can no longer survive in nature. This book is a lively, well-written introduction to an endlessly fascinating side of natural history. Illustrations. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Waldbauer (emeritus entomology, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) sets out to trace the life cycle of insects chronologically through the year, with particular focus on the showy cecropia moth. While factual and informative, his book flits from species to species and season to season with less cohesion than he may have intended. Line drawings by Amy Wright are not as illuminating as the color photographs found in other books about insects, nor is Waldbauer's writing particularly absorbing. A secondary purchase for larger popular collections.-Laurie Tynan, Montgomery Cty.-Norristown P.L., Pa.
Booknews
Waldbauer (entomology, U. of Illinois) reveals his own passion for insects making the volume a highly readable and enjoyable journey into this complex, buzzing world. Insects appeared on earth 400 million years ago--long before humans--and will probably endure as long as life is possible. The author shows the reader why following the mating, eating, and evolutionary patterns of insects world wide. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
Waldbauer (Entomology/Univ. of Illinois) loves bugs, and he wants you to love them, too. Or at least to be fascinated enough to stop and look before squashing them underfoot.

This thoroughly gratifying survey of that most successful animal group (now 400 million years old) is given both temporal and Darwinian perspectives. Starting with the optimistic swarm of spring, Waldbauer paints the landscape of each season, filling it with every manner of creature (though insects take center stage) and describing their evolutionary talents: how they find mates, how they find food, how they avoid being found as food for others. He never has to stretch for the fantastic or sensational example, for the insect world is one long, strange parade of curiosities: critters with ears on their legs, teeth on their genitals, the smell of carbona on their breath. Waldbauer gives the scoop on the tricks of a dead leaf butterfly, cracks the code of the cricket's chirp, tends bar for a boozing moth, shares the satin bowerbird's obsession with the color blue. In the process, he puts the entire ecological picture into context—the integrated community of interdependent organisms, in which we humans have no reason to feel superior. Without the pollinating and scavenging talents of our multilegged friends, we never would have made it here in the first place. And Waldbauer never skirts the rarefied stuff, giving the exceedingly complex notion of natural selection, for example, the elasticity it deserves and rarely gets, somehow putting it across with the clarity of an easy reader.

Waldbauer's wisdom is served up like a tantalizing tray of hors d'oeuvres, none of which will likely be declined.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674454897
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 2/11/1998
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 308
  • Product dimensions: 0.64 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Gilbert Waldbauer is Professor Emeritus of Entomology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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Table of Contents

Preface

First Things

The Most Successful Animals on Earth

Finding and Courting a Mate

After the Courtship's Over

Caring for Offspring

Defense against Predators

The Parasitic Way of Life

Recognizing Food

Taking Nourishment

Coping with the Seasons

Silken Cocoons

Winter

Selected Readings

Acknowledgments

Index

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