The Insect Appreciation Digest, by F. Tom Turpin
With the subtitle “Everything you ought to know about insects (that your parents didn’t teach you)” this entertaining little book is very much in harmony with what I have been trying to do with “The Wonderful World of Insects”. In a series of easily readable chapters it takes you through a general introduction to insects, their lives and biology and how they interact with us human beings. Enlivened by the cartoon character Bug Scout, and including numerous b/w illustrations this is a “must have” book for all American schools. Though it has an obviously American flavour teachers and students outside America will also find in it an invaluable first resource to entomology.
It starts off with an introduction to the study of insects, including who studies them. Unfortunately the Pie Chart and the text do not agree on the number of known insects, there being a difference of 200 thousands in their maths. Apart form this however the book is scientifically accurate and this poor start should not put you off, just ignore the figures in the Pie Chart. This first chapter includes sections on collecting, preserving and identifying insects that make it particularly valuable as a school resource.
Chapter two is an introduction to the insects themselves, including all the essential information on morphology and life cycles. It then gives us some cameos of various insects and/or insect groups. Chapter 3 is concerned with insect biology/ecology and deals with subjects such as reproduction, feeding, overwintering, migration etc. Following this is a longer chapter on insects as part of the human environment which mostly focuses on pests and their control but has sections on entomophobia , forensic entomology and insect commercial products such as honey.
Chapter 5 was by far the most interesting to me personally and contains a large number of references to insects (and spiders) in art, literature and folklore.
The book ends with an appendix of E-series insects, a hit list of the most common and damaging pests. All in all I would perhaps have liked to have seen the beneficial side of insects stressed a bit more but otherwise this is an excellent fun and educational read, a serious benefit to all school libraries.
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