St Lucie Press



The Titles

Insect Potpourri, Adventures in Entomology, by J. Adams (Ed.)
American Insects; A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico, by R. H. Arnett, Jr.
Insects and Plants Parallel Evolution and Adaptations, 2nd Ed. by P. Jolivet.

The Reviews

Insects and Plants

Parallel Evolution and Adaptations, 2nd Ed. by P. Jolivet.

ISBN = 1 877743 09 7
Price = $24.95 USA and £25.00 UK
Published = 1992
Review written = 29/March/1997
190 pages
This is a small book trying to embrace a very large subject, and as such gives the impression of somebody trying to off load a great deal of information in a hurry. There is no doubt that the author is a very knowledgeable man, and if you are looking for a general overview of insect plant interactions, or the sort of student who is looking to read as little as possible then this is the book for you, but beware his definition of 'niche' as it is wrong. I do not know if it is the fault of the author or the translator but I found this book uncomfortable to read, the text does not flow well and the author seems obsessive in his use of 'terminology' (to the sacrifice of understanding) in what is really only an introduction to the topics covered.

It contains chapters on; Diets of living things, Problems of food selection, Control of imported weeds by insects, Carnivorous plants, Myrmecophilous (spelt wrongly in the chapter headings) plants, Fungus gardens, Pollinating insects, The galls, Epizoic symbiosis, Entomological 'manna', Entomochorous plants and coevolution. All in all this is a very informative book that suffers from attempting to pack too much into too few pages. Of obvious attraction to mediocre students.

For those in whom this book stimulates, or who already possess a deeper desire for understanding there are many good books dealing individually with the topics covered in this book, those which are not mentioned in Jolivet's bibliography include; Insects and Flowers by F.G. Barth (1991), The Carnivorous Plants by B.E.R. Juniper, R.J. Robins, and D.M. Joel, (1989) and The Evolutionary Ecology of Ant-Plant Mutualisms, by A.J. Beattie (1985)

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Insect Potpourri, Adventures in Entomology

by J. Adams (Ed.)

ISBN = 1 877743 09 7
Price = $35.95 USA and £25.00 UK
Published = 1992
Review written = 8/March/1997
336 pages
This is a generally quite readable book, it contains 53 essays by as many different authors and as to be expected the quality of individual essays varies considerably. So much so that though some essays made come up thinking yes this book would be worth buying for that alone others made mw wonder why the editors had bothered to include them. Lets start with the good first, R. A. Morse's essay on Africanised Honey Bees is brilliantly lucid, casting a clear light on what is a subject all to often obscured by the muddy inaccuracies of sensationalism. Another excellent contribution is O. Sosa Jr's essay on C. J. Finlay and the discovery of the relationship between Yellow Fever and Mosquitos. The obvious need for its inclusion is magnified by the unfortunate fact that two further essays in the same chapter fail to acknowledge Finlay's efforts correctly, either by putting W. Reed's efforts to the fore of Finlay's or failing to mention Finlay at all, making one wonder what the editor was doing to earn his pay. Also of interest to an entomologist were D.R.Hamel's essay on 'Insects on Stamps' though it was somewhat ruined by the inclusion of a rather superfluous introduction to each of the orders occurring on stamps, and J.W. Mertins' 'Arthropods on the Screen'. On the down side J.H.Trosper's 'Stranger than Fiction' contained to many errors to be enjoyable and J.K.Mauldin's 'Termite and Beetle Research at the Wood Products Insect Research Unit at Gulfport, Mississippi' is little more than a record who was employed, how long they stayed and where they went afterwards. Back on the up side again the book is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of a number Gary Larson's excellent cartoons. All in all this book gives good value for money even if the essays do not really live up to the publishers use of the word 'Adventures'.

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American Insects; A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico

by R. H. Arnett, Jr.

ISBN = 1 877743 19 4
Price = $89.95 USA and £60.00 UK
Published = 1993
Review written = 8/March/1997
850 pages
This massive work of 850 A4 size pages, is more of a table book than a handbook weighing in as it does at just over 2 kilos. Despite this huge size it still it only manages to mention just over 7 600 of the almost 90 000 species claimed for North America It therefore exemplifies the main problem with books of this sort i.e. the subject matter is really too large to be included in a single work. The book contains an immense amount of information, including a short description of all known North American pest species, keys to orders, keys to families and lists of all the genera encountered in North America. It has an extensive and complete index but is I feel rather lacking in references. I can see its main use would be in schools where it will serve as an introduction to insects and a valuable resource on higher level identification. It will also be of some use to other users with little knowledge and a broad interest in entomology such as those working in the field of pest control. However I would expect that most potential users would do better to acquire a less expensive introductory text with a key to orders and then get smaller works dealing with the particular groups they want to look more closely at. My personal experience is that interested amateurs will simply find this book's massive amount of primarily taxonomic information, its independent numbering system and the lack of colour images frustrating because in trying to be everything it is not really anything at all very fully. There are also some personal quirks of the author which might cause confusion i.e. he states categorically that the correct name for the order Diplura is Entotrophi, saying that some people have recently started using the term Diplura in error, yet my records show that the order was being referred to as the Diplura in expert texts at least as long ago as the 1940s, in fact I only have one other text which even mentions the term Entotrophi and that is another American and relatively modern one. Another surprise was to find that the totals in at least 2 columns of table 1.2 on page 8 are incorrect reinforcing the image of a lack of attention to detail. Undoubtedly this book has its place in many libraries as it represents a resource not available in any other single place.

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