The Titles

Your First Stick Insect , by David Alderton
Your First Millipede and Cockroach, by Nick Baker

The Reviews

Your First Stick Insect

by David Alderton

ISBN = 1 852 79079 2
Price = £1.45 UK Pounds
Published = Dec. 1998
Review written = 27/Sep/1998
34 pages
29 colour photos

Though obviously not as detailed as the larger "Rearing and Studying Stick and Leaf Insects" which I started with this book is much cheaper and has the noticeable advantage of being full of glossy colour photos. The author starts with an introduction to stick -insects and their biology. This includes a mention of the fact that there are some New Zealand species now naturalised in Cornwall and Devon in the UK. The author seems a little misinformed on this as there are three species involved not two as he suggests. The next section moves on to supply details on the care and origin of some of the more commonly kept species. The information is accurate and acceptable though I was surprised that the defensive spray of Pink Wings Sipyloidea sipylus did not get mention as though it is not unpleasant (to me at least) it is surprising. I was also a little worried about the instruction to "..(see page 00) after the first mention of parthenogenicity. as the page numbering system used by TFH-Kingdom counts the front cover as page 1 the instructions would seem to be impossible to follow. I was also surprised to note the absence of Aretaon assperrimus The Small Spiney Stick Insect as this is a relatively common species in culture these days and a good species for beginners. To finish up the error list a typo on page 26 "nymphs of this species cannot drown in their water.." should read "..can drown.." as this will make sense of the following precautions and is anyway the truth of the matter.

After the species reports there are special sections on housing, feeding, eggs and health. There is also at the end a welcome reference to the PSG which is useful. Despite the few errors I mentioned above this is a competent and well produced work which I am sure will be enjoyed by many people. I was pleasantly surprised to see a photo of an insect bred by myself, the Oreophoetes peruanus gynandromorph shown on page 17 was one I raised a number of years ago and sent to Paul Brock as he has a special interest in gynandromorphs.

Highly Recommended

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Your First Millipede and Cockroach

by Nick Baker

ISBN = 1 852 79082-2
Price = £1.45 UK Pounds
Published = Dec. 1997
Review written = 20/Feb/1998
34 pages
22 colour photos

Nick Baker is the new star presenter of programs like "Watch Out" and "The Animal Zone" and he may well be familiar to the British public in that guise. He has however been keeping invertebrates himself for many years and even as a child he raised many insects and other arthropods so he has a good perspective on what a young person needs to know about things like Cockroaches and Millipedes. The book itself is excellent as a first guide, Nick's innate enthusiasm for all things small and living shines through on every page. Starting with an introduction to the two groups it gently leads you through all you need to know to be a successful keeper of these small wonders.

I particularly like this book for two reasons. Firstly it gives good pictorial coverage of several minor points that are often missed out in these sorts of guides, these include photos of a milk chocolate white newly moulted individual, of a female with an extruded ootheca and one of a female with young. Secondly it includes millipedes. I have been breeding millipedes for a number of years now and am a big fan of them as pets. It is a great pleasure to see a booklet like this published making so much information about them readily available for the beginner. All is not heaven though, unfortunately Nick or the Publishers have some of the facts on the "Compleat Cockroach" slightly wrong. The title of the book is "The Compleat Cockroach" and not "The Complete Cockroach" and it was published in 1996 not 1966.

All in all this is an excellent little book and a real bargain at £1.45 UK pounds, ideal, even essential, as a present for any child contemplating these delightful creatures as pets.
Highly Recommended

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