Maggots, Murder and Men, by Zakaria. Erzinçlioglu
The Songs of the Grasshoppers and Crickets of Western Europe, by D.R.Ragge and W.J.Reynolds
The Spiders of Great Britain and Ireland, by Michael J. Roberts
The Hawkmoths of The Western Palaeartic, by A.R. Pittaway
The Dragonflies of Europe, by R.R. Askew
The Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland, by A. M. Emmet and J. Heath (Eds)
Breeding Butterflies and Moths, by Ekkehard Friedrich
British Pyralid Moths: a Guide to their Identification, by Barry Goater
The Dragonflies of Great Britain and Ireland (Second edition), by C. O. Hammond (Revised by R. Merrit)
Grasshoppers and allied Insects of Great Britain and Ireland, by Judith Marshall and E. C. M. Haes
Identification Chart of the British and Irish Dragonflies
Zakaria. Erzinçlioglu's or Dr Zak's (as he is known by the police) fascination with blowflies and their kin was already known to me through his excellent volume for the Naturalist's Handbook Series on Blowflies. I was quite pleased then when Harley books offered me a copy of this volume to review for my website. Forensic entomology is a fascinating, if somewhat gruesome discipline that I am glad somebody else does.
I started this unsure how well it would hold my attention, having already read M. Lee Goff's "A Fly for the Prosecution" I wondered what Dr Zak could say that was new. I needn't have worried, while the basic science is the same in the two books, their presentation and scope are quite different. It may come as a pleasure to those who are interested in crime but not so much in insects that this book does not delve so deeply into the life cycles and ecological successions described by Mr Goff. This book has a far more wide ranging scope and unleashes far more interesting aspects of forensic science than just flies, though obviously, as part of the central theme of the book they are present throughout.
Zakaria. Erzinçlioglu's displays not only his fascination with the lowly flies that are attracted to human corpses, but also an in depth knowledge of the human fly sphere of interaction throughout history. There is a chapter charting the history maggots and medicine, an interesting look at the way flies have affected human history, a chapter on missing persons and some very pertinent comments on the ailing of society in the UK today. Britain may be the strongest major currency on the market at the moment but her soul is not in a good state. Zakaria's convictions concerning the failure of truth to be universally sacred are something I would whole heartedly support.
As someone who has spent some time in the public eye as an entomologist I was also able to sympathise with him in his dealing Delusory parasitosis, people who want you to identify bugs on practically no information and on insulting mail from people who do not agree with things you have written. All this made it a very pleasant read for me, even though my stomach turns reading the gruesome details of rape, murder and paedophilia.
However the book is well written, and grows on you as you get further into it, the varied diet makes it an easier read than Goff's book and its different approach makes it a complementary read rather than a competitor. I suspect anybody with an interest in crime, or perhaps even humanity will find this interesting.Highly recommended
‘The Songs of the Grasshoppers and Crickets of Western Europe’ by David Ragge (Senior author) and Jim Reynolds is destined to become the standard reference work for the study of orthopteran bioacoustic research for many years to come. This book provides a comprehensive review of the songs of European Orthoptera, and these songs are in turn related to the taxonomy of species.
As someone who relies heavily on the songs of British Orthoptera for their initial identification and subsequent location, I have always been aware of the importance of the acoustic ‘fingerprint’ of each species. That said, prior to reading this book, I would not have entertained the idea of reading a text full of oscillograms for pleasure, let alone find myself so completely absorbed by this research that I could not put the book down again! Therein lies the beauty of this work, for it is not simply the culmination of 35 years of sound recording (and the accompanying CD’s containing 352 song excerpts are a superior production), but a detailed and intriguing analysis of the structure, function and scientific application of insect sound.
Each topic is dealt with in a comprehensive fashion, such that one is led smoothly and methodically into the heart of the science. The book comprises of the following chapters: Introduction; Acoustic Methods; Sound Production and Reception of European Orthoptera; The Nature and Function of the Songs; The Value of Songs in Taxonomy and Identification; Key to the Singing Orthoptera of Western Europe, based primarily on their Songs; Tettigoniidae (bush-crickets); Gryllidae (crickets) and Gryllotalpidae (mole-crickets); Acrididae (grasshoppers); other Animal Sounds that could be confused with Orthoptera Songs; followed by three Appendices, including a checklist; a Glossary, References and Indexes (one of European vernacular names).
The chapter describing ‘The Value of Songs in Taxonomy and Identification’ makes fascinating reading, and questions the separation of certain species which are extremely similar in both song and morphology. If only Pseudomogoplistes wasn’t apterous! It would also be interesting to see if anyone takes up the challenge of studying the acoustically distinct Decticus verrucivorus populations of Western Europe and Central/Eastern Spain.
Another remarkable feature of this book (and there are many) is a key describing 170 of the singing Orthoptera of Western Europe, based primarily on their song, which has been produced as an aid to their identification. I could go on, and I am the first to admit that as an orthopterist, I may be somewhat biased in my opinion of this book. The fact remains that this book represents an indispensable aid to the application of acoustic studies to ecological, cytogenetic and bioacoustic research, and evolutionary biology, and shows clearly that taxonomists omit bioacoustic research at their peril.
This is now generally recognised as the definitive text on British spiders. Roberts' first edition of this work (3 vols, in 1987) superseded and updated the previous bible for British Arachnologists (Locket and Millidge, 1951, 1953 and 1974). This newer edition with additional Appendix, Addenda and Corrigenda in turn updates and revises that 1987 publishing.
The first volume contains all the text, starting with a series of introductory notes on spider biology and some information on classification and nomenclature as it applies to spiders. Following this is a key to families and the species descriptions including 105 genera and 267 species of Linyphiidae.
When I was first learning what little I know about spiders Lockett and Millidge was the definitive work on British arachnids, and had been for some time. It was always to their well written volumes that I turned for any serious questions concerning identification. There is therefore little higher praise I can give these new volumes than to quote what has already been said of them by the past masters.
"..... the pictures in this book will not easily be surpassed, embodying as they do a meticulous knowledge and an artistic perception. But this is a great deal more than a picture book..... The resulting work is an authoritative text book for identification which it is a privilege to recommend to anyone working on this group." Lockett 1984.
"Intelligent use of the keys and the fine figures provided in this volume for the male palps and the female epigynes should enable all arachnologists, even the merest tyros, to identify the British members of the family without undue difficulty." Millidge 1987. Here he is talking about the Linyphiidae, which was originally published as a separate volume, but his words apply with equal precision to the rest of the families as well.
These books are both a work of art and a work of science and so bring together the highest possible achievements of a human being. Their presence in the libraries of all our academic and major public libraries is a must in order that their great value to the science of arachnology in the British Isles be allowed to bear fruit abundantly.
There is something special about Hawkmoths. They are one of the groups of insects I most commonly get asked questions about through the web site. They are also by far the commonest lepidoptera for sale as live pupae at entomological shows in the UK. They are of course mostly large and attractive, but some species, such as the Death's Head have that rare ability to transcend the barriers of invertebrate/bug-hood and to be seen as real animals.
This book is and introduction to the 57 species and 28 subspecies of Sphigidae that are currently recognised as occurring in the Western Palaeartic. Pittaway is a well travelled lepidopterist with a passion for sphingids. This work carries pleasantly the imprint of his years of personal research and fascination with this subject. It starts with a brief introduction explaining the geographic limitations of the Western Palaeartic and the nature of the distribution maps used. This is followed by a short chapter on the history of the study of the Sphingidae. From here it moves on to a series of more substantial chapters defining the morphology and ecology of Sphingids and relating this to to there geographical distribution.
Chapter 7 introduces the topic of classification which includes a useful table of all known natural and artificially induced species hybrids. There then follows 7 pages of photos of Hawkmoth habitats, adults and larva.
Chapter 8 begins the taxonomic section in earnest with a species checklist. The bulk of the book, pages 79-165, is the systematic accounts. These are not only to species but also for each recognised subspecies. Information is given as to the common name in a variety of languages, type locality, adult description and variations, adult biology, flight-times, early stages, parasitoids, breeding and distribution. A distribution map is included for each species but not for individual subspecies.
After this comes the first appendix which is actually a small chapter on rearing Hawkmoths, followed by three other appendices. The 2nd is a list of host plants, the 3rd a gazetteer and the 4th a glossary. The work finally ends with 9 pages of references and 3 indices (host plants, systematic and subject). In between the glossary and the indices are the remaining plates, the first 4 of which depict larvae of 40 species and 5 subspecies. The final 9 depict 110 set specimens of the 57 species and many of the subspecies covered in the systematic section of the work.
All in all another very attractive book from the Harley stable.
Dragonflies are a noticeable aspect of most fresh water environments and are now accepted by many people outside of the entomological community as being valuable and worthy of conservation. Dr Askew is a professional entomologist with an international reputation and long term personal interest in the Odonata.
This is the first and most competent book to be published in English covering all the Odonata of Europe. Like all the great books within the world of entomological literature this is a work of love as well as scholarship. Dr Askew's dedication to dragonflies, their ecology and conservation as well as to the more difficult task of communicating his hard won knowledge to others make this book a treasure to possess.
The book starts with a 48 page introduction to the biology and ecology of Damsels in general. It includes sections on distribution as well as morphology and life history. The systematic section, which occupies the bulk of the work, deals with first adults and then with the larva. It includes keys to family, genera and in most cases species for both adults and larva of the 114 species currently recognised as breeding within the confines of Europe.
Though the keys are adequately illustrated with B/W line drawings they are greatly assisted in the task of facilitating identification by the excellent 29 colour plates depicting both male and female of nearly all the species covered.
All in all an excellently useful book which it is a great pleasure to own.
This is by far the most comprehensive and up-to-date work on the Butterflies of Britain and Ireland. In 370 pages it describes all 111 species of butterfly on the British list. This list includes all those species which are deemed to have arrived on our shores under their own, weather assisted or not, efforts or by accident of carriage; it does not include records originating as a result of escapees from butterfly farms.
The 24 colour plates illustrate 559 specimens, allowing for plenty of coverage abs, as well as the normal dorso-ventral male-female pairings. However this is not primarily an identification guide though it contains keys to species with illustrations of genitalia where necessary. What makes this book so valuable is the huge amount of information that is presented for each species. All the breeding and regularly migrant species are treated two 2 or more nearly A4 pages of text. Even less common visitors like the American Painted Lady Cynthia virginiensis with 17 records in 150 years are treated in considerable detail, while even once only strays like The Zebra Colobura dirce have their colours revealed.
Information is supplied on: Type Locality; Description of Imago; Variation; Life History = ovum-larva-pupa-imago; Distribution; History; Vernacular name (and Early History). Personally I found this last section very interesting as much of the information in it was new to me. Distribution is supplied both as a text description and a distribution map.
Contains the following chapters: The vernacular names and early history of British butterflies; Re-establishment of insect populations with special reference to butterflies; Check List; Introduction to Butterflies; Hesperiidae; Papilionidae; Pieridae; Lycaenidae; Nymphalidae; References; Glossary; The Plates; Index to authors of Systematic Section; General Index; Index of Host Plants.
All in all a very nice book which will be of particular use to schools.
This is another amazingly useful book from the Harley stable. There is something uniquely enjoyable and perhaps addictive about breeding out butterflies and moths. From the nervous waiting for the eggs to hatch through the amazement of larval life and the wonder of pupation to the unbridled joy of the adult emergence it is a wonderful educational experience. This book, at the exceedingly low price of £11.95 (Pbk), makes it possible for anyone to enjoy these pleasures and should be a treasured object in every library particularly schools.
This English translation, and upgrading, of Ekkehard Freidrich's original German work is the only is currently the only book of its scope and competence on the market. As well as the original notes on rearing European Macrolepidoptera this work includes much additional material: most of the notes on Geometridae by Jim Reid; a completely new section on the Microlepidoptera by Maitland Emmet and a rewriting of the section on artificial diets by Brian O. C. Gardiner.
The book commences with a set of concise general instructions on breeding and rearing equipment and techniques (48 pages). The second part of the book is a series of detailed instructions at the level of species or genera, where the species within the genera are similar in requirements, for over 1000 species. The information includes notes on care of eggs, larvae, and pupae as well as comments on conservation. The book ends with a small bibliography, a list of useful addresses, an index of plant species and an index of insect species.
This is an amazingly useful book, and though it is possible for the beginner to find species that are not covered, i.e. Biston betularia, a little intelligence and a degree of reading the general instructions and those to related species will ensure that the amateur can now rear just about any British Moth, providing he can acquire the eggs or identify the larvae.
Harley Books are an unusual entity in the publishing world for many reasons, but one which endears them to me as much as their choice of works is the long print runs they give their books. A number of their publications have been around for ten years or more now and are still growing strong. This is excellent value for young naturalists who are often surprised to find the books used by their mentors still available.
The 200+ Pyralid moths found in th UK are a splinter group of that large unnatural division of the Lepidoptera known as the 'Microlepidoptera' and equating to those moths not found in Skinner. Many Pyralids are not really that small, are quite attractive and can be found in quite large numbers in the right habitat. This book has been, since its publication, the only source for their identification outside of the original scattered papers.
The species accounts supply useful information on ID, including races and forms, as well as advice on distinguishing between similar species. It also supplies information on life-history strategies, flight times, larval feeding habits and geographic distribution. In some cases, where they are necessary for identification, genitalia are illustrated. There are 8 colour plates of set specimens and one (the frontispiece) showing representatives of the principal subfamilies photographed in the wild.
Barry Goater is an active and well respected British lepidopterist and a former vice-president of the Societas Europaea Lepidopterologica. He has several other essential lepidoptera publications to his name, (author of "Butterflies and Moths of Hampshire" and part author of "An Identification Guide to British Pug Moths"). This book fills what would otherwise be a major gap in the British Lepidoptera literature and is an essential piece of equipment for all serious lepidopterists and naturalists in this country.
This is perhaps the best known book on Odonata in the UK. When the first edition was published in 1977 it provided the British amateur naturalist with an affordable with which she could competently identify all the British species both as adults and as larvae (the exception to this being the distinguishing between Sympetrum striolatum and Sympetrum nigrescens). The result of these large clear illustrations and competent text was a massive boost for the Dragonfly recording scheme and as the book went out of print in a few years the new data resulting from this influx of records and the continuing interest in British Odonata warranted the publishing of second edition.
This second edition was published in 1983, and then again with a few modifications in 1985. It is beyond doubt a classic of its genre and is as much to be valued for its beauty as for its scientific accuracy and utility. As a result of the recording stimulated by the first edition and additional 75 000 records have been added to the recording scheme's database and the distribution maps have been up dated as has the name S. scotica to S. danae. This obviously results in an increase in the number of the 10K squares covered and many species show an increased distribution. Changes in distribution as indicated by additional dots are easier to accept than those indicated by loss of dots, inferring either discovery of that the earlier data was erroneous or loss of data. This occurs in a number of cases in comparisons between the 1st and 2nd editions, in most cases the more recent (records to 1990) "Atlas of dragonflies of Britain an Ireland" confirms the changes indicated in the second edition but here in some cases even further omissions are observable, it would be interesting if future atlases could explain why earlier records have been left out.
Each species illustration is accompanied by a species description as well as notes on habitat, flight period and distribution. the book includes a key to adults, a checklist, a brief introduction to Odonata biology, an excellent and well illustrated key to larvae and of course Gardner's excellent oversized colour illustrations of the adults. Nearly all the plates include a number of additionally enlarged insets of diagnostically important features. The index is considerably improved on the first edition and the colour plates are better in that they are sharper and clearer. However the B/W illustrations in the introductory text have lost some of the quality and do not look as good as those in the first edition.
All in all this is a very attractive and competent work and should be of interest to odonatists everywhere though I feel it will be of particular interest to British schools.
This is a wonderful book runner up for Natural World Book of the Year 1988, it is a model of its genera and the definitive bible for orthopteroid insects in the UK and Ireland. Though there are only 52 species of orthopteroid insects in the area covered, which makes producing a definitive work in one volume possible, the authors of this work, have nevertheless excelled themselves.
The first part of the work is a 65-page introduction to the work in general and the insects it covers, partly written by the doyen of British orthoptera David R. Ragge. This amounts to a small book on orthopteroid insect biology and contains all the information you could wish it to. Part 2 is the taxonomic section and includes keys to species for all the groups treated. There is then an account of each species containing information on life history data, habitat preferences, distribution and status as well as a county level distribution map. The information in the various sections is quite complete and extremely useful.
Part 3 is specifically concerned with habitats and looks at such aspects as roadside verges, coastal grasslands and sand dunes etc as habitats for orthopteroid insects. This is a welcome addition to the information provided in the species accounts and helps give one a picture of orthopteroid communities. It also contains a section on orthopteroid insects as habitat indicators. Part 4 is really a separate book in its own right, being an ' Atlas of the Orthopteroids of Britain and Ireland' . It consists of a series of 10Km distribution maps printed at half-page size showing pre- and post- 1960 distributions as well as post-1980 for some Red Data Book species. This is followed by 5 useful appendices: Offshore Island Records; Vice-county records; Outstanding sites for British Orthoptera; List of Localities, Gazetteer and County Maps and Welsh, Scottish and Irish names. Finally the work finishes with the references and the colour plates by Denys Ovenden. These plates really accentuate the high quality of this book; they are excellent, in fact they are worth buying the book for of themselves.
Section headings include:- Nomenclature and Classification; Pronunciation of Scientific Names, Common Names; Historical Account of the Study of Orthoptera; The distribution and History of British Orthoptera; Orthopteroid Morphology; Life History and Development; Song and Courtship; Predators, Parasites and Diseases; Locating and Collecting Orthoptera; Rearing and Culturing Orthopteroid Insects in Captivity; Preservation of Orthoptera; Recording Orthoptera Sounds; Photographing Orthoptera and Glossary.
All in all this is a highly competent work and should be of interest to orthopterists all across the globe as well as within the designated area of interest.
Published in conjunction with the British Dragonfly Society this wall chart is based on Hammond's "Dragonflies of Great Britain and Ireland", using the drawings of A. E. Gardner. The drawings are all oversized, the Damsels being X2.7 and the Dragons X1.35 life size. Many species are illustrated in lateral aspect as well as dorsal i.e. Ishnura elegans, Ishnura pumilo, Aeshna mixta, Somatochlora arctica, Sympetrum sanguineum and Sympetrum striolatum among others. In a number of cases various forms are also illustrated, including homeochrome and heterochrome forms (i.e. Enallagma cyathigerum) as well as a number of named varieties. Platycnemis pennipes is illustrated as a immature form and Libellula dipressa is shown additionally as an old pruinose female and (wings only) in its praenubila and quadrimaculata forms. This is a very complete illustration of the relevent species, my only concern is that the species name S.scotica is still being used in preference to the more modernly accepted S. danae.
The oversized images make this and excellent chart for schools and colleges and will undoubtedly make easier the identity of pond visitors. Being both delightful and educational this wall chart will pleasantly decorate the room of any Odonata fan.