Book review: "Extraordinary Insects"

Not a reference or a field guide, but a “general interest” book that I am finding very enjoyable. Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson’s book (ISBN: 9780008316358, list price £14.99) dips into the many facets of insect life: most of the topics I was already familiar with, but the details can be fascinating. F’rinstance, there are Robber Flies (Asilidae) in the tropics large enough to tackle hummingbirds. The book also tells me that my school-taught belief that the number of beetle species outstripped all other groups is wrong: recent work has vastly increased the number of known species in other groups, notably the Hymenoptera.
The translation (from Norwegian) seems accurate and makes for easy reading, which is the intent of the book. Sadly, there are no photos, but there are some excellent line drawings. Naturally, she focuses on the more noteworthy and extreme examples of behaviour and anatomy, but (for me) avoids the sensationalist attitude.
I was given it as a “light read” during recuperation, and it fits the bill perfectly. As a book that will add to most people’s knowledge of the group, it’s highly recommended.


I bought this! But not read it yet.
Looking forward to it.

I also just started The Secret Life of Flies by Erica McAllister.
Mind-blowing how little is known about the actual life of flies.

If you (or anyone else) have any further links to books/films/podcasts online/offline…
and more on invertebrate behaviour than identification, please share.
I really want to learn more about this side of invertebrates atm.

Curious Naturalists by Tinbergen is one I’ve read more than once.

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Not quite the same but I’ld strongly recommend Fredrik Sjöberg’s “The Fly Trap”, which you can buy from the NHBS here:


I will start reading The Fly Trap seems interesting.

A review this week of a bird book from the Southwest.
It’s not just about Birds.

It looks lovely, the Book and the place. Thanks

Something a little bit different that you may enjoy: BBC Sounds Podcasts: The Infinite Monkey Cage - In Praise of Flies (factual science and nature)

Yes Erica is always a good turn, worth a listen.

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