A Walk around the Pond: Insects in and over the Water

A Walk around the Pond: Insects in and over the Water

by Gilbert Waldbauer
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Sy Montgomery
With breathtaking wonders on every page, A Walk around the Pond will change forever how we think of some of our commonest insects--and indeed, how we think about the almost unimaginably strange and thrilling planet we also, too often, take for granted. This book belongs on every naturalist's bookshelf.
Sidney W. Dunkle
This book is a good deal more than just 'a walk around the pond.' Even readers who have studied aquatic insects for many years will find much that is new and interesting in these pages. The book is a total immersion in the lives of these amazing insects and the creatures, including ourselves, who interact with them.
Booklist - Nancy Bent
Aquatic and semiaquatic insects far outnumber the other organisms that share their freshwater habitat, yet most of us are unaware of them. Waldbauer, a retired professor of entomology, hopes to rectify this ignorance as he explores the always interesting lives of aquatic insects. In the same conversational style that he has used in previous works, he presents the fascinating array of adaptations, the diverse forms, and the myriad ways of life of these water dwellers...While telling of the hidden lives of these insects, Waldbauer also reveals evolutionary and ecological details, moving the book beyond the 'gee whiz' level. Readers will be inspired to take a closer look at their favorite pond or stream.
Science News
In North America alone, there are more than 10,000 aquatic and semiaquatic insect species that live parts of their lives in fresh water. How did they evolve to survive both on land and in water? Waldbauer, professor emeritus of entomology at the University of lllinois, attempts to explain the feat while providing a who's who of these remarkable insects, including mayflies, dragonflies, true bugs, beetles, and mosquitoes.
Times Literary Supplement - Gaden S. Robinson
Well balanced and well written...A good read for the committed naturalist anywhere in the world. It also provides excellent source material for life-science students wishing to enrich their entomological knowledge, and contains an extensive bibliography and excellent index...A Walk around the Pond is a masterly treatise from the hand of an enthusiast.
General and Applied Entomology - Dr. Garry Levot
Almost a story, A Walk Around the Pond: Insects in and over the Water is an easy read with many interesting facts about the interaction of insects with the aquatic environment interspersed with anecdotes from the author's professional and personal experiences. For readers wanting a bit more, the book ends with a bibliography broken up into the chapter headings for easy reference.
Discovery - Rex Kenner
In his latest book, Gilbert Waldbauer deals in his usual easy-to-read, informative style with my favorite group of insects, those that spend at least part of their lives in water...He clearly has a special interest and immense knowledge of this varied group.
Library Journal
Though the title implies it, this book is not a quaint romp around the pond; it is an entertaining yet highly accurate and informative account of the lives of aquatic insects. Familiar as they are, their lives take bizarre turns unknown to most laypeople. In 11 engaging chapters, Waldbauer (entomology, emeritus, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; What Good Are Bugs?) conducts a broad survey of aquatic insects, from giant water bugs that lay their eggs on their mates' backs to minute parasitic wasps that swim with their wings and lay their eggs on other aquatic insects. He discusses the origin and evolution of insects, which preceded the dinosaurs by 200 million years; tours aquatic insect habitats, from streams to pitcher plants; describes the ingenious methods by which aquatic insects breathe, eat, move, and reproduce; details their varied defense and survival mechanisms; and explains why predators and parasites are important. This book is sure to fascinate not only interested lay readers but also entomologists. Recommended for high school level and up.-Annette Aiello, Smithsonian Tropical Research Inst., Panama Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674027657
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
04/15/2008
Pages:
312
Sales rank:
1,126,491
Product dimensions:
(w) x 7.75(h) x (d)

What People are saying about this

This book is a good deal more than just 'a walk around the pond.' Even readers who have studied aquatic insects for many years will find much that is new and interesting in these pages. The book is a total immersion in the lives of these amazing insects and the creatures, including ourselves, who interact with them.
Sy Montgomery
With breathtaking wonders on every page, A Walk around the Pond will change forever how we think of some of our commonest insects--and indeed, how we think about the almost unimaginably strange and thrilling planet we also, too often, take for granted. This book belongs on every naturalist's bookshelf. --(Sy Montgomery, columnist and author of The Curious Naturalist)
Sidney W. Dunkle
This book is a good deal more than just 'a walk around the pond.' Even readers who have studied aquatic insects for many years will find much that is new and interesting in these pages. The book is a total immersion in the lives of these amazing insects and the creatures, including ourselves, who interact with them. --(Sidney W. Dunkle, author of Dragonflies through Binoculars)

Meet the Author

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

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