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The Titles

The Biology of Terrestrial Molluscs, by G.M.Baker (Ed.)
The Biology of Wetas, King Crickets and their Allies, by Lawrence H. Field (Ed.)
A Dictionary of Entomology, by G. Gordh and D. H. Headrick
Hymenoptera and Biodiversity, by John La Salle, Ian D Gould (Eds)
Thrips as Crop Pests, by T. Lewis, Ed.
Thysanoptra: An Identification Guide (2nd edition), by W. A Maund and G Kibbly
Termites: Biology and Pest Management, by M. J. Pearce
The Bionomics of Grasshoppers, Katydids and Their Kin , by S. K. Gangwere, M. C. Muralirangan and Meera Muralirangan (Eds)
Aquatic Insects, by D. D. Williams and B. W. Feltmate
IIE Guides to Insects of Importance to Man 3. Coleoptera, by R. G. Booth, M. L. Cox and R.B. Madge

The Reviews

The Biology of Terrestrial Molluscs

by G.M.Baker (Ed.)

ISBN = 0851 99 318 4 (Hbk)
Published = 2001, and updated since
Review written = 22th March 2002
560 pages
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Few people, even among biology students, appreciate the diversity, successfulness and beauty of molluscs. Many people appreciate them as pests of agriculture. In many ways this is to their benefit, as it is without doubt the threat of financial loss to these often voracious plant predators, that has paid for much of the research that supports this volume. The fact that a number of mollusc species are vectors in the transmission of human diseases has of course helped focus human attention on them. The result is, that in comparison with other invertebrate groups, we know a reasonable amount now about the biology of these fascinating animals.

In 14 well written chapters this book presents the latest in our understanding of terrestrial mollusc biology. The book contains a good range of subjects and should be of considerable use to both research scientists and undergraduates of both zoology and ecology. The book starts of with an introduction to the group through the wandering variables of modern computer aided analyses of cladistic phylogenies. From here it moves well into morphology with excellent chapters on the body wall, radula structure and the digestive tract. Chapter 6 is a quick diversion into ecology with a look at food choice and feeding behaviour that follows on well from the previous two chapters.

The following this is a return to morphology and physiology. First in a look at the structure and function of terrestrial mollusc haemolymph followed by 3 chapters that cover the gametogenesis, reproduction and the reproductive system and growth and development. From here in the book becomes steadily more ecologically oriented with highly enjoyable chapters on life history strategies, behavioural ecology and soil ecotoxicology.

For a multi-author book this volume is surprisingly well integrated and reads very well. I personally prefer a single reference section because I find that while I usually remember the facts and the author cited I have to return to the book later to look up the full citation if I wish to use it, and it is simpler to find it in a single reference section than in one lost in the middle of the volume somewhere.

The book also contains a useful list of acronyms and a fully functioning index, something that is not always so evident. All in all this is an excellent book that I expect will be well regarded by all who come to use it.

Highly Recommended. 

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The Biology of Wetas, King Crickets and their Allies

by Lawrence H. Field (Ed.)

ISBN = 0851 99 408 3
Price = £95.00
Published = 2001
Review written = 20th August 2001
540 pages

This is an academic text aimed at university level students and research workers working in this particular field.

The Stenopelmatoidea contains a number of relic groups of Orthoptera, most particularly Jerusalem Crickets, King Crickets and Wetas. This book is the only comprehensive work to deal with this group as a whole. Wetas have captured the hearts of many people in New Zealand, where the fact that some of the largest insects in the world were in danger of extinction because of the activities of introduced mammals and logging companies has helped stimulate a small flow of finances for research on these otherwise economically unimportant insects. Therefore it is the Weta that dominate this volume because, while serious research on them has at least started, for the Jerusalem and King Crickets it still remains minimal.

These are without doubt fascinating animals and I found this very enjoyable to read. The chapters are well written, highly informative and do not suffer much from the usual repetitious overlaps that occur in mulit-author works. some of the chapters are wonderfully detailed, such as those on development and physiology, though as an ecologist it was the ecology chapters I enjoyed the most. The chapter headings below give a good indication of the scope of the book, though it is a fairly safe bet to say that as of the date of publication, if it isn't in this book then it is probably not known. If there is a problem with this book it is the price, 95 UK pounds is a hefty sum and I fear it will reduce the audience this book will reach.

Chapter headings are:- 1)The Higher Classification, Phylogeny and Evolution of the Superfamily Stenopelmatoidea; 2)Habitats and Biogeography of New Zealand's Deinacridine and Tusked Weta Species; 3)North and Central American Jerusalem Crickets (Orthoptera: Stenopelmatidae): Taxonomy, Distribution, Life Cycle, Ecology and Related Biology of the American Species; 4)South African King Crickets (Anostostomatidae); 5)Australian King Crickets: Distribution, Habitats and Biology (Orthoptera: Anostostomatidae); 6)The Gryllacrididae: An Overview of the World Fauna with Emphasis on Australian Examples; 7)The Evolutionary History of Tree Weta: A Genetic Approach; 8)Morphology and Anatomy of New Zealand Wetas; 9)Morphometric Analysis of Hemideina spp. in New Zealand; 10)Sexual Selection and Secondary Sexual Characters of Wetas and King Crickets; 11)Anatomy, Development and Behaviour of the Chilean Red Cricket, Cratomelus armatus B1; 12)The Ecology of Some Large Weta Species in New Zealand; 13)The Gallery-related Ecology of New Zealand Tree Wetas, Hemideina femorata and Hemideina crassidens (Orthoptera, Anostostomatidae); 14)Parasites of Anostostomatid Insects; 15)Stridulatory Mechanisms and Associated Behaviour in New Zealand Wetas; 16)Defence Behaviour; 17)Mating Behaviour; 18)Aggression Behaviour in New Zealand Tree Wetas; 19)Communication and Reproductive Behaviour in North American Jerusalem Crickets (Stenopelmatus); Appendix 19a)Effect of Temperature on Drumming Rates of Jerusalem Crickets (Stenopelmatus: Stenopelmatidae: Orthoptera); 20)The Reproductive Biology and Eggs of New Zealand Anostostomatidae; 21)Post Embryonic Development and Related Changes; 22)Sensory Physiology; 23)Neuromuscular Physiology and Motor Control; 24)Circadian Rhythms in Tree Wetas, Hemideina thoracica; 25)Haemolymph Physiology; 26)Conservation of Threatened Species of Weta (Orthoptera: Anastostomatidae) in New Zealand.

Highly Recommended

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A Dictionary of entomology

by JG. Gordh and D. H. Headrick

ISBN = 0 85199 291 9
Price = £75.00
Published = 2001, revised 2003                    
Review written = 10th May 2001
1032 pages
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Considering that most of biology is entomology and that most of entomology is etymology this book was destined from its inception to be a valuable resource for all biologists.

It is a massive work containing 43,000 definitions of 28,000 terms, names and phrases in over 1000 pages. It includes as well as the obvious entomological words the names of many deceased entomologists with the publication details of their biographies or obituaries. It also claims to list all insect names down to subfamily level, though I haven't the ability to check this and its is probably out of date already, taxonomy being like that. Many words are given their origin but not all, amongst those I tested it with were ichneumon from the Greek for 'tracker' but it does not tell you this or give any hint as to the origin of the word ichneumon.

Though it is obviously highly comprehensive and very competent, better than anything else I currently own, not a difficult test, it is not perfect. In a brief survey I was able to find definitions I was not happy with. A "Myrmecochore" is described as "An oily seed which attracts ants that transport it". This leave a lot to the imagination and doesn't really explain the important part that the seed is oily adaptively so that ants will transport it. I would also have liked to see some reference here to elaiosomes and the fact that the seeds are generally not eaten. Though Myrmecochory is listed as "Dispersal of seeds (myrmecochores) by ants" again there is no link to elaiosomes which are fairly fundamental to the process. Finally myrmecophytes, "Higher plants that live in obligatory, mutualistic relationships with ants." is not listed at all.

Having had my say, which only really proves that if you try hard you can find some faults in a 1,000 page book, almost inevitable I would say, I should express my feeling that the dictionary is very up-to-date and will be extremely useful to both students and researchers, particularly those in fields that only partially overlap with entomology. Every library deserves to have its own copy.
Highly Recommended

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Hymenoptera and Biodiversity

by John La Salle, Ian D Gould (eds)

ISBN = 0851 98 830 X
Price = £58.50
Published = 1993
Review written = December 1998
348 pages

The hymeoptera are gradually becoming accepted by non-entomologists as important aspects of the environment. Social insects have always been noticed by mankind because their group nests enlarge their presence in the world, making them more real than any individual insect. However, it is pleasant to see that over the last decade or so solitary bees and to a lesser extent solitary wasps are being given greater respect for their role in maintaining the life of our planet. It is not unexpected then, that this work is dominated by the aculeata and ultimately by the apidae.

Though the word “Hymenoptera” implies the whole order, and though the bulk of hymeoptera are parasitica in this work as in so many others they fail to achieve, or be given, proportional representation. The book consists of 15 chapters (see below) of which the first 2 and the last 4 are general considerations relating to the whole order. Of the remaining 9, 3 deal with bees, 1 with bees and wasps, 1 with ants and 4 with parasitica. Given the overall focus of entomological attention however, this is not a bad result and shows some effort to redress the imbalance existing towards the parasitica on the editors behalves.

Generally speaking the papers are well written, though no attempt has been made to step outside of the 'scientific paper' format with which scientists are most familiar, and into the dingy and dangerous world of literature. Papers like Spatial Patterns in the Description and Richness of the Hymenoptera by Gaston, K.J. and Intraspecific Biodiversity in Hymenoptera: Implication for Conservation and Biological Control by Unruh, T.R., and Messing, R.H. are of value to all and will of use to many students of conservation biology in particular. I personally was pleased to read Gamez and Gould’s paper on Costa Rica. I had previously been unaware of the extent of these initiatives and like the authors I would hold Costa Rica up to the world as and example on conservation matters.

Undoubtedly, the worst paper in the book is Measuring Biodiversity for Choosing Conservation Areas. Though the topic of how to decide where to spend our limited conservation resources, i.e. ultimately what to save and what not to, is undoubtedly a hot one. Williams et. al. have not made any inroads into it in this paper. As is all to often been the case in recent years biologists/ecologists here show themselves to be woolly minded ineffectual thinkers. This paper starts by presenting a series of unsupported steps leading to a castle in the air which would only appear real from within a world view as represented by the authors image of themselves as philosophers. I am considering adding a serious critigue of this paper to my site but time may not allow. For the present be warned to think about this paper before you accept it. Look carefully at the undiscussed and unjustified claims, such as that any two insects are more worthy of conservation if they are widely separated taxonomically. The concept of biodiversity already has a meaning which if anything needs to be clarified not obfuscationally confused with the concept of 'conservation value' a much more subjective and completely different idea.

Contains Chapters on:- Hymenoptera their Diversity and their Impact on the Diversity of Other Organisms; Intraspecific Biodiversity in the Hymenoptera: Implications for Conservation and Biological control; Threats to the diversity of Solitary Bees in a Neotropical Dry Forest in Central America; Effects of Increasing Land Utilisation on Species Representation and Diversity of Aculeate Wasps and Bees in the Semi-arid areas of Southern Africa; Comparison of the Aboreal ant Mosaic in Ghana, Brazil, Papua NewGuinea and Australia - its Structure and Influenceon arthropod Diversity; Bees, Pollination Systems and Plant Diversity; Diversity of Native Bees and Agroecosystems; Parasitic Hymenoptera, Biological Control and Biodiversity; Parasitoid Webs; Refuges, host Population Dynamics and the Genesis of Parasitoid Diversity; The Role and Enhancement of Parasitic Hymenoptera Biodiversity in agroecosystems; Spatial Patterns in the Description and Richness of the Hymenoptera; What does Tropical society Want from the Taxonomist; Measuring Biodiversity for Choosing Conservation areas; Costa Rica: an Innovative Approach to the Study of Tropical Biodiversity. Appendix:- Higher Categories of Hymenoptera, Index.

All in all though this is an excellent book, well worth its plave in any library.
Highly Recommended.

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Thrips as Crop Pests

by T. Lewis, Ed.

ISBN = 0851 991785
Price = £75.00 Aprox.
Published = 1997
Review written = December 1998
740 pages
12 colour plates

Of the 5000 or so species of thrips in the world only a relative few are pests. Yet the economic damage done by these few can be quite extensive. Partly because their feeding often defaces fruit causing ugly blotches which prevent it from being sold in the ever fussier first world. Partly also because they can cause a serious reduction in production and in some cases spread debilitating viral diseases.

Over the last 2.5 decades, since the publication of Lewis’s “Thrips, Their Biology, Ecology and Economic Importance”, the last major work on the group, a huge amount of work has been done on the Thysanoptera. This work is therefore a timely updating of the current state of our knowledge of this interesting group of insects.

Designed to work as a text on ecology and pest control, there is very little taxonomic or classificatory information included. For this see “Thysanoptra: An Identification Guide (2nd edition), by T. Lewis, Ed.“ also by CAB International, a recent highly complementary work.

The book is so constructed as to be of value to workers of varying degrees of entomological and thrysanopteran experience. It starts with a general introduction to thrips and then moves into a series of well written chapters on the important aspects of their biology. The 18 chapters follow a logical order and contain a huge amount of useful information both of thrips basic biology and on modern techniques for their control. The last 100 pages deal entirely with control, explaining firstly a purely chemical approach before going on to discuss IPM techniques in relation to field, tree and glasshouse crops in individual detail.

The book ends with 3 useful appendices on Thrips their hosts and the damage done, as well as an index. Surprisingly for a text of this nature the book also contains 12 colour plates depicting a great variety of thrip caused damage. The only think I did not like about this book was the fact that the references are at the end of each chapters, an editorial quirk it shares with a number of other multi-author works but which renders the bibliography much more difficult to use. Undoubtedly this is an essential reference work for all those involved with thrips as pests and the crops they use. It will also be a very useful addition to any college or university library which features studies in entomology or agriculture.

Contains the following chapters: Pest Thrips in Perspective; Structure, Growth and Development; Host Selection, Communcation and Reproductive Behaviour; Feeding; Flight and Dispersal; Biological Diversity; Distribution, Abundance and Population Dynamics; Predation by Insects and Mites; Interactions with Hymenopterous Parasitoids and Parasitic Nematodes; Fungal Pathogens of Thrips; Field and Laboratory Techniques; Culturing Thrips and Parasitoids; Feeding and Oviposition Injuries to Plants; Thrips as Vectors of Plant Pathogens; Chemical control; Intergrated Pest Management (IPM) in Field Crops; Intergrated Pest Management (IPM) in Tree Crops; Intergrated Pest Management (IPM) in Glasshouses
Highly Recommended.

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Thysanoptra: An Identification Guide (2nd edition)

by W. A Maund and G Kibbly

ISBN = 0851992110
Price = £19.95
Published = 1998
Review written = December 1998
A4 Ring Bound 70 pages
numerous B/W illustrations

Thrips are small, often unobserved insects, most of which are harmless, or even a positive benefit to the environment as pollinators. However, a small percentage are pests, damaging crops and transmitting viral diseases. For horticulturists, entomologists and farmers world-wide to be able to deal appropriately with these pest species when they occur it is necessary that they be able to identify them easily. This rewriting and updating of the 1989 “CIE Guide to Insects of Importance to Man 2” supplies the information needed to allow for this identification.

Starting with a brief introduction to the biology of thrips and their preparation for identification this booklet progresses rapidly to the main body of the work which is a key to Family, subfamily and Genus followed by a series of reports on each genus. The keys are pictorial with additional text, they are clear and easy to use, although a good quality microscope will be needed throughout.

The species reports are basic information on distribution and pest status of species. For 4 genera (Caliothirps, Franklinnella, Sartothrips and Thrips) which contain the majority of the pest species, a further key to the pest species is supplied. Useful information is also supplied regarding the existance and quality of other keys where appropriate.

All in all a book aimed primarily at those working where thrips will need to be identified but will also be useful in colleges and Universities. A useful and competent updating of a standard and much used work.
Highly Recommended.

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Termites: Biology and Pest Management

by M. J. Pearce

ISBN = 0 85199 130 0
Price = £35.00 (Hbk)
Published = December 1997
Review written = 13/May/1998
132 pages
32 Colour plates

Termites do not currently occur in the UK (baring one small infestation in Barnstaple, Devon) but having lived for 18 years in Australia I am well aware of their potential for destruction. However termites are much more than pests, as mike Pearce expresses in this book. There are about 2000 species world wide and only about 50 are serious pests to mankind. Termites are unique animals, not only in their feeding ecology, but also in their possession of a eusocial life cycle which is dominated by a King as well as a Queen and in which both males and females serve as workers.

This book starts right at the beginning with the question. What is a termite? Then having introduced you to what makes a termite different from all other insects it goes on to explain termites caste differentiation, evolution and classification. Chapter 2 discusses distribution with emphasis on pest species, including information on the factors which have the greatest effect on distribution. Chapter 3 gets you more into the nitty-gritty of termite biology and behaviour and includes sections on; communication, feeding, foraging and defence. I would have liked to have seen some more information on the gut-symbionts of the higher termites i.e. the non-protozoan ones but this is not really a complaint.

Chapter 4 deals with nest construction and form. chapter 5 is 'Termite Ecology' which discusses soil and vegetation preferences, termites as environmental benefactors, predators, parasites and environmental interactions. Chapter 6 is on termites as pests and here the book focuses down to those few species which annoy mankind. Looking at which species occur where and in what circumstances they are pests. Chapter 7 follows on from this with a discussion of control methods, which though it starts off describing the use of the now frowned upon organochlorines goes on to discuss more modern control methods including not only newer chemicals but baits, physical barriers and the use of biological pest control agents. I was very pleased to see included a mention of the most environmentally friendly method, 'Heat Treatment' for infected houses.

Finally their are 4 appendices, giving detailed summaries of various ecological and laboratory techniques; collection and identification; culture methods; monitoring methods and laboratory tests. The references are handily divided 3 sections General, Taxonomic and Biology and Control. All in all this is an excellently written book, which as a general introduction to termites can be read by anyone with an interest in these fascinating if sometimes destructive insects. a must for school and college libraries around the world.
Highly Recommended.

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The Bionomics of Grasshoppers, Katydids and Their Kin.

by S.K.Gangwere, M.C.Muralirangan and Meera Muralirangan (Eds)

ISBN = 0 85199 141 6
Price = £85.00 (Hbk), $150.00US (Hbk)
Published = March 1997
Review written = 13/March/1998
Review written by Peter G Sutton
358 pages

"The Bionomics of Grasshoppers, Katydids and their Kin" provides a valuable contribution to the study of economically important orthopteroids, and represents an essential piece of literature for entomologists involved in the protection of crops from Orthopteran pest species. Unlike previous works, (the Editors have acknowledged the invaluable standards provided by Uvarov [1966, 1977], and Chapman and Journ [1990]), which have confined themselves solely to the biology of grasshoppers and plague locusts, this work addresses the problems associated with crop destruction by katydids and crickets, and discusses the beneficial contribution of mantises. One of the striking aspects of this book is the grand scale on which each individual topic of research is conducted. Written by authorities from the USA, Canada, Israel, India, UK, Spain, Russia and South Africa, each subject encompasses, as far as possible, all areas of study from historical aspects to the most recent developments.

The term 'Bionomics' has been used to describe 'the broad, comparative biological, behavioural and evolutionary approach' with which this book was written. Initial chapters deal with the systematics of Orthoptera, including the unenviable task of classifying the various Orders. I can only agree with V.R.Vickery that 'many of the subordinate subfamilies, tribes, and especially subtribes and 'groups' could be dispensed with without seriously affecting classification.' The differences between genera in families should be accepted without sub-grouping ad infinitum.

The subject of Orthopteran distribution is dealt with by way of several chapters discussing the fossil history and phylogeny of Orthopteroid insects, their ecology, population dynamics and ecogeographical distribution (apologies for over-simplification), and Orthopteran biology relative to landscape change. I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with J.A.Lockwood, in his emphasis that 'future research must recognise the central problem of scale across all ecological dimensions (3D-space, time, complexity and clarity) to prevent erroneous interpretation of ecological processes.

A section on the habits and behaviour of Orthopterans includes feeding behaviour, acoustic communication, oviposition and mating strategies. The biological study is continued with a section on physiology and genetics. It must be noted that it is not the aim of this book to perform a study of these subjects per se, there is already a wealth of modern literature available. Rather, the emphasis is on regulatory aspects of physiology and genetics, and this section includes a study of the endocrinology of reproduction, molecular evolutionary genetics in Orthopteroid insects, and a study of the use of chromosome markers to monitor the differentiation of individuals, populations and species of Orthoptera.

All of the former areas of research contribute directly to the final and (arguably) the most important section of this book; the control and conservation of Orthoptera. P.W.Riegert, A.B.Ewen and J.A.Lockwood give a fascinating account of the 'History of Chemical Control of Grasshoppers and Locusts'. Further chapters introduce modern strategies of chemical and biological pest control, including a review of the current focus on phytochemical control, and the use of pathogens (including fungi), and parasitoids and predators as agents of biological control. This section is concluded with M.J.Samways' refreshing argument for the conservation of Orthoptera.

The task undertaken by the Editors in compiling such a book was daunting, and inevitably there are a few (insignificant) errors. e.g. Metrioptera roesellii is/was not that rare in Britain (even before the population explosion of recent years), and a picture labelled as Decticus verrucivorus is clearly Tettigonia cantans, but these are mere nit-pickings in a fine piece of work. This book is informative, thought provoking and pragmatic. In view of the magnitude of the task undertaken, the results are wholly commendable and this book does credit to the editors and contributing authors.
Highly Recommended.

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Aquatic Insects

by D.D.Williams and B.W. Feltmate

ISBN = 0 85198 678 1
Price = £28.00 (pbk)
Published = 1992
Review written = 28/Feb/1997
358 pages

Aquatic entomology has really found its ecological feet in the last 25 years, and is currently at the forefront of much testing of modern ecological theories. This book synthesises the work up to 1991 and is a very complete introduction to the subject of aquatic entomology. It has already been well reviewed in the past and I have found it both informationally competent and well written, it has a good index and is well referenced.

Chapter subjects include; 1) an introduction to insects. 2) A series of introductions to all the orders of insects that have aquatic representatives. 3) Keys to a) nymphs larvae and aquatic adults and b) pupae. 4) Habitats and communities. 5) Life history strategies. 6) Morphological and physiological adaptations. 7) Population biology. 8) Trophic relations. 9) Predation effects.

Further to this it contains sections on experimental design, sampling techniques and relationships with man. All in all this is a very well rounded book which it is a pleasure both to read and to work with. It will undoubtedly be of considerable use to secondary schools, colleges and universities as well as to fresh water fishermen and amature ecologists around the English speaking world.
Highly Recommended

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IIE guides to insects of importance to man 3. Coleoptera

by R.G. Booth, M.L. Cox and R.B. Madge

ISBN = 0 85198 782 6
Price = £35.00 (pbk)
Published = 1990
Review written = 28/Feb/1997
384 pages

This is primarily a taxonomic work, ring bound for ease of use near the microscope, and in A4 format. It is well written in clear concise English with consideration for those not already familiar with beetles evident in its structure. The diagrams are all clear and well labelled, including the diagrams in the keys. This and the 16 page glossary make this that rare thing the 'user friendly taxonomic work'. It does not claim to be able to identify for you every pest or friendly beetle to species level, but will in most cases allow you to key them out to family and in some cases there are additional keys to subfamily and genera.

It also contains a considerable amount of information about the families general traits and a large number of species reports for the more common species. It is important to realise that this book contains information not just on pest species but also on species of importance as biological control agents.

The main work is divided into two main sections, the 1st is concerned with adult beetles and the 2nd with the larval forms, though this section does not actually contain any keys each family is extensively illustrated facilitating easy identification. Each family section contains references to further works and in the larval section these are all collected in a paragraph entitled 'Keyworks', these are also listed in a 50 page bibliography at the end of the book. It also contains in the introduction a section on collecting, preserving and mounting beetles making it very complete work. This is an excellently useful work.

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