Insects Through the Seasons

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...

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Cambridge, MA 1996 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. New Hard Cover print: DEN Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. Audience: General/trade.

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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

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)
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 of courtship, mating, raising young, self-defense, recognizing food, eating, and getting through the seasons' changes--not to mention parasitizing each other and other animals--are phenomenally various and gratifyingly intriguing. In passing, Waldbauer inserts plenty of the history of humanity's interactions with specific insects, such as the silkworm and the monarch butterfly, which adds to the fascination of his traversal of the insect seasons. 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.
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: 9780674454880
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1996
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.17 (w) x 9.51 (h) x 1.07 (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 1
The Most Successful Animals on Earth 11
Finding and Courting a Mate 25
After the Courtship's Over 53
Caring for Offspring 77
Defense against Predators 107
The Parasitic Way of Life 142
Recognizing Food 171
Taking Nourishment 194
Coping with the Seasons 216
Silken Cocoons 237
Winter 254
Selected Readings 265
Acknowledgments 278
Index 279
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