Melbourne University Press

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The Titles

The Insects of Australia, A textbook for Students and Research Workers
Systematic and Applied Entomology, – An Introduction by I D Naumann (Ed)
Backyard Insects, by Paul A. Horne and Denis J. Crawford
Australian Beetles, by John F. Lawrence and E.B.Briton

The Reviews

Systematic and Applied Entomology

, – An Introduction by I D Naumann (Ed)

ISBN = 0 522 845185
Price = $49.95 Aus. dollars
Published = 1994
Review written = 15/February/1999
484 A4 pages
16 Colour plates, 306 text figs

This comprehensive introduction to entomology is based on the “Insects of Australia” – one of, if not the most comprehensive national work on insects in the English language. It is effectively, if not officially, divided into two sections; the first 222 pages are an introduction to the science of entomology after which come 196 pates of the systematic section.

The systematic section is excellent and treats the individual orders more fully than its competitors. The exception being the grylloblattodea which do not occur in Australia and have therefore been left out. There may also be some discrepancy over the decision to use the order Hemiptera rather than splitting off the Homoptera as a distinct order. The key which begins the section is excellent, it deals not only with adults and larval forms but also keys out to Pauropoda, Arachnida, Chilopoda, Diplopoda, Symphyta and Crustacea.

The different chapters are written by different authors so inevitably there is a difference in style between chapters. In general though each contains Anatomy of Adults; Immature Stages; Pupa (where appropriate; Biology of Adults; biology of Immature Stages; Natural Enemies; Economic Significance; Special Features of the Australian Fauna; Classification; References.

The introductory chapters are equally competent and in particular I recommend the chapters on Systematics; Fossil History and Collection and Preservation. This last section is much better than Methods for Collecting, Preserving and Studying Insects and Allied Forms also published in Australia and written by the same author, and could be usefully published on its own, or with the key. The great strength of this book is I think that the contributing authors are only writing on their areas of expertise. No single author is an expert on all aspects of entomology and inevitably this comes across as single author works however profound the authors knowledge.

I would have to say that regardless of its Australian leanings, and partly because of the current strength of the British pound, this is way and above the best value for money entomological text available in the UK. It is also obviously the main test for students in Australia and must be of consideration to students in other countries as well.

All in all an excellent work. Highly recommended.

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ISBN , pages, Pub 1991,

The Insects of Australia

, A textbook for Students and Research Workers by The Entomology Division of the CSIRO

ISBN = 0522 846366
Price = $300 Aus. dollars
Published = 1991
Review written = 15/February/1998
1135 pages in 2 Vols
11 colour plates, 2000 b/w illustrations

When the first edition of “The Insects” of Australia appeared in 1970 it generated international acclaim as a textbook of universal value. This second edition much rewritten, updated and enlarged upon, published in 1991 has followed in its predecessors footsteps and is also acclaimed internationally as a landmark publication in entomology. Though focussed entirely on the fauna of Australia, the general information on insect structure and the ecology of the various orders is valid on a world-wide basis. Australia’s fauna is so large and diverse, estimates go as high as 160,000 species, that even the keys, though they deal on Australian taxa only, are of use to amateurs, in as much as that in most groups they deal with all the major families. Written by over 70 internationally recognised experts there is no doubt that this work stands out on its own in the world of entomological literature.

Within its 1100 + A4 pages is a wealth of information - using the Strepsiptera as an example, in Insects of Australia there is over twice the space dedicated to this small order as in Imms’s General Text Book of Entomology, 3 times as much as in Gilot’s Entomology, and 10 times as much as in Gullan and Cranston’s The Insects.

The first ten chapters (250 pages) make up an introduction to entomology with sections on: Skeletal Anatomy; General Anatomy; General Biology; Systematics, Phylogeny of Hexapods; Fossil History; Biogeograpahy; Biographical History; Insects and Humans in Australia and Australian Insects in Research. The remaining 32 chapters are devoted one to each order, with the Hemiptera being treated as one order, Collenbola, Diptera and Protura have the first 3 chapters through they are referred to as Hexapods only, acknowledging their departure from the class insecta. These systematic chapters are well illustrated, often with SEM photographs as well as b/w illustrations depicting the salient points of anatomy.

All in all this is a major classic work in the entomological field, and for British readers at least it is currently good value for money running out at about £100 plus p+p brought from the right source.

Highly Recommended

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Backyard Insects

, by Paul A. Horne and Denis J. Crawford

ISBN = 0 522 84737 4
Price = $24.95 Aus. dollars
Published = 1996
Review written = 15/February/1998
120 colour plates

Backyard Insects is designed to allow those (Australian residents or visitors) with no previous insect identification skills or experience to gain some idea of what they can find in their own backyard. It makes no pretence to being a complete guide to the estimated 85 000 species of insect living in Australia. It is basically a series of 94 photos of insects and a few of other invertebrates for comparison. Each picture is accompanied by a page of text giving :- Common name; Scientific name; and a selection of details about the life style of the animals in question and the group to which it belongs.

The photos are large and clear (1 per page) making for easy identification of characters. The text is lucid and for the most part commendably accurate. Only the statement that silverfish have not been much studied because they are hard to catch worries me, entomologists can find ways to catch anything if they want to study it. Still perhaps the authors are demonstrating their sense of humour, either way this is a minor complaint about a otherwise good quality production.

All in all this is a very nice little book which well achieves what it sets out to do. If you live, or are planning to live in suburbia in Australia then this book could well get you or an interested child started on the long but pleasant road of the Amateur Entomologist. At a relatively low cost it would make an ideal present for anyone living in Australia with an enquiring mind.


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Australian Beetles

by John F. Lawrence and E.B.Briton

ISBN = 0 522 84519 3
Price = $44.95 AU.
Published = 1994
Review written = 1st/October/1997
192 pages ~A4
64 colour photos
50+ Scanning Electron Micrographs

Beetles are such a huge group that it is difficult to appreciate just how many of them there are. Australia is blessed with some 28.5 thousand species. Just naming them would occupy a larger book than this. The CSIRO have produced, and still are producing, a number of fine monographs on various groups, and these are of great use to those working specifically on the groups concerned. This work however fills an important niche, in that it bridges the gap between a colour guide to the common species and these monographs. It is an excellent introduction to the beetles of Australia. It is also much more than that. Because Australia includes such a diversity of habitats within its borders any key to the families of beetles of Australia will be usable in many other countries as well, 117 of the approximately 125 families of beetles in the world occur in Australia. This will make this book of value to amateur coleopterists and secondary schools throughout the english speaking world.

The first 34 pages of this work make a good introduction to beetles as a group. The next section includes the keys to families, one to larva and one to adults, these keys seem fine as far as I have been able to test them. Unfortunately however the figures that illustrate the keys are distributed freely throughout the book and are therefore not related to the text aspects of the keys at all, this is an archaic practice which is far from user friendly and which is not really acceptable in the modern world. Apart from the keys to families there are keys to subfamilies for Cerambycidae, Scarabaeidae and Staphylinidae and one to tribes for the Carabidae. The book is illustrated with more than 50 fine scanning electron micrographs and 64 colour photographs arranged on 16 plates. The 3rd part of the book consists of mostly of treatments of each family these are illustrated by some 500 b/w illustrations. finally the book includes 16 pages of bibliography and the 15.5 page 3 column index.

Highly Recommended

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