Harvard University Press

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The Titles

A Fly for the Prosecution, by M. Lee Goff
The Wisdom of the Hive The Social Physiology of Honey Bee Colonies, by T.D. Seeley
The Pollen Wasps Ecology and natural history of the Masarinae, by Sarah K. Gess.
Insects Through the Seasons, by Gilbert Waldbauer.
The Thermal Warriors, by Bernd Heinrich.

The Reviews

A Fly for the Prosecution

, by M. Lee Goff

ISBN = 0 674 00220 2
Price = £15.50
Published = June 2000
Review written = 29/December/2001
225 pages

The sub-title to this book is "How Insect Evidence Helps Solves Crimes" and this is a succinct summation of what the book is about. The author is Professor of Entomology ant the University of Hawaii. He has been practising 'Forensic Entomology' for at least 15 years before writing this book and therefore brings considerable expertise in both the practical and research sides of this little known science. The book makes fascinating reading providing you are not easily disturbed by the subject matter which naturally involves dead and decaying human bodies. The book also brings into the light some of the more disturbing aspects of humanity in the very nature of the crimes involved. Ofcourse those into crime literature as a genre will be unable to put this book down, otherwise I recommend taking it little at a time.

The authors success in determining the time of death from the insect evidence is phenomenal, awe inspiring even and I was intrigued to see just how formalised this science has become. The first part of the book contains details of the author's introduction to the science and the crime scene. From there in he gradually shows us how it is done as he relates the story of his own growing expertise and acceptance by the police. The 'how' is fascinating and a lovely indication of how ever present arthropods are in our lives. Even months after our death they are still able to effect our place in the world. The number of cases the author has been involved in is impressive. The book is reasonably well written (given that I have been accused of holding excessively high standards in literary style). the author lays out his evidence well and the reader is left in no doubt that forensic entomology is a reliable and useful science, albeit a young one with much to learn.

For students of crime this must be essential reading, for students of entomology it offers an interesting adjunct to the normal course work. Otherwise it promises interesting if somewhat morbid (all the cases are murders) reading. Well worth a read.

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The Thermal Warriors

Strategies of Insect Survival, by Bernd Heinrich
ISBN = 0 674 88340 3
Price = £17.95
Published = 1996
Review written = 21/September/1997
221 pages
11 Colour Plates

Phrases like absolutely amazing and simply incredible spring to mind quite readily after reading this delightful book. I must admit that as both an Amateur naturalist and a professional entomologist I was surprised to discover how little I was aware of the importance of thermoregulation in the lives of some of the higher insects. This book has added a whole new wonderful dimension to my insect watching.

The illusion that all insects are cold blooded is shattered. From moths which raise their thoracic temperature to 40C before they can fly, to honey Bees which live in an environment which is air conditioned to a higher degree of control than most of our homes and offices this book is fascinating. Bernd Heinrich is the guru of insect thermoregulation, but he is also a competent writer, and his enthusiasm for his subject is infectious. This book should be a must on every bodies reading list reguardless of profession. You need know previous entomological experience to read this book but be warned, you will probably be hungry for more by the time you have finished it. Apart from staying hot this book also deals with the problems of staying cool, but perhaps most exiting of all is the revelation of the new ecofriendly methods of pest control that stem from our new understanding of insect thermal limitations and the equally frightening revelation of the efforts the biochemical companies are making to discredit and hush up this new knowledge.

Contains the following chapter headings: From Cold Crawlers to Hot Flyers, Heat Balance, The Flight Motor, Warm-up by Shivering, Warm-up, by Basking, Cooling Off, Form and Function, Conserving Energy, Why do Insects Thermoregulate, Strategies for Survival, Thermal Arms Race, Heat Treatments, Heating and Cooling the Nest, Insects in Man-Made Habitats.
 All in all one of the most fascinating books I have read this year, Highly Recommended.

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Insects Through the Seasons

by Gilbert Waldbauer.

ISBN = 0 674 45488 X
Price = £16.50 Hbk
Published = 1996
Review written = 7/September/1997
289 pages

"Insects Through the Seasons" is a book for insect lovers of all ages. Gilbert Waldbauer is an accomplished scientist with an extensive knowledge of entomology, yet he writes with a fluid and easily readable style that is most pleasant. He possesses that ability to explain things in an simple and straight forward manner that will appeal to readers at all levels of entomological expertise. Though many professional entomologists will be familiar with the contents, as this book is obviously aimed at the novice entomologist of any age.

Ostensibly the book follows the development of Cecropia moths throughout the year, but as the book progresses the Cecropia moths come to be lost from time to time as Gilbert warms to his subject of entomology as a whole. Really this is a book about the wonder of insects and the amazing things they do in order to survive day to day life in various parts of the world. A picturesque journey into the world of those six legged marvels that we all love. In his wanderings Gilbert brings in just about the whole of entomology and draws on a wide rang of species to illustrate the various themes.

Includes chapters on: First Things, The Most Successful Animals on Earth, Finding and Courting a Mate, After the Courtship's Over, Caring for Offspring, Defense against Predators, The Parasitic Way of Life, Recognising Food, Taking Nourishment, Coping With the Seasons, Silken Cocoons and Winter.

All in all this book would make an excellent present for any young or novice entomologist and should be high on the shopping list of every public library.

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The Pollen Wasps

Ecology and natural history of the Masarinae, by Sarah K. Gess

ISBN = 0 674 68964 X
Price = £33.00 Hbk
Published = 1997
Review written = 23/August/1997
400 pages
25 colour plates

As someone who has particular interest in solitary aculeates it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to reading this book, I was not disappointed. Pollen wasps are a new and exciting experience for me and I suspect they will be for others as well. they do not occur in the UK an are mentioned so briefly, in the books that mention them at all, Barth 1993, Yeo and Proctor 1996 and Gould and Bolton 1996 that I have missed out learning about them until now. For that alone I would recommended this book, that it brings into the light a fascinating and little known group of aculeates. A very unusual thing a solitary wasp that provisions its nest with nectar and pollen instead of other arthropods. The publishing of this book will undoubtedly be a major step forward in their study and conservation.

The 300 or so species of masarine wasp in the world are limited to tropical and or reasonably warm semi-arid parts of the world. Sarah's personal study of the 92 endemic species in Southern Africa make her entirely suitable to write this monograph. In this book she brings to together the last 35 years worth of research on these wonderful animals in a comprehensive and detailed account of what is known of their biology.

The book contains extensive, detailed and well illustrated (with 60 B/W drawings) accounts of both nesting biology and pollination ecology of these highly unusual wasps as well as discussions on their conservation biogeography and evolution. Many of the masarines are either monolectic or highly oligolectic and this work contains two large appendices one detailing flower visits by masarines and the other detailing visitation to similar or related flowers by other aculeates. These two appendices alone will make this work of great value to pollination ecologists.

Chapter headings include; Introduction, Biogeography, Flower associations, Life history, Nesting, Associates, Pollen wasps as potential pollinators, Pollen wasps and land use, Appendix 1. Records of flower visiting masarine wasps, Appendix 2. Plants of the groups associated with masarine wasps in southern Africa together with their non-masarine solitary aculeate wasp and bee visitors, Appendix 3. Described species of masarine wasps.
  Highly Recommended

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The Wisdom of the Hive

The Social Physiology of Honey Bee Colonies, by T.D. Seeley

ISBN = 0 674 95376 2
Price = $49.95
Published = 1995
Review written = 29/March/1997
295 pages

This is an amazing, truly wonderful book, undoubtedly the best piece of entomological literature I have read for some time. Seeley is one of the leading lights of the world of Honey Bee research and in this book he takes the reader on a fantastical journey into both the social world of the honey bee hive and also into world scientific research. In telling the story of how much of his seminal work was done, he succeeds in passing on his amassed insights and discoveries concerning the workings of this always fascinating animal in a highly readable manner. This book contains much that will be of interest to both lay persons, school students, teachers and undergraduates in entomology. You do not need any prior knowledge to get good value out of this book and whoever you are you will go away amazed and filled with wonder at the beauty of the Honey Bee Colony and its inner workings, and perhaps a little appreciation of how good science works.

Includes chapters on; The Honey Bee Colony an introduction, Foraging abilities of a colony, How a colony acquires information about food resources, How a colony act on this information, How a colony adjusts its nectar collecting rate, Regulation of comb construction, Regulation of pollen collection, Regulation of water collection, Overview. It also includes a 7 page glossary. All in all a brilliant book, I can not recommend it too highly, go out and get a copy and read it, you will have great difficulty putting it down.

Highly Recommended

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