Insectopedia–Perennial Bookworm

Insectopedia, Hugh Raffles, 2010.  Pantheon Books, 465 pages, 9.44” x 6.36”, $29.95 (hardcover).

This ia a thought provoking read that will appeal to those who like to delve into mankind’s attitude toward the natural world.  Formatted unusually into small sections titled from A to Z, Raffles , an anthropologist, examines man’s interaction, studies of and perception of different insects.  The opening chapter, if you will: Air starts us off on the right foot with a fascinating discussion of the largely unseen and poorly understood aerial mass migration of insects of all kinds.  Raffles believes this is not a passive migration.

He introduces us to various entomologists throughout history and how commonly they used their studies of life at the microscopic level to escape from the harsh realities of the manmade world.   In Chernobyl, Raffles tells the story of Cornelia Hesse-Honegger who collects insects and paints the mutations she sees under the microscope–a case where microscopic studies reveal big truths that we are unable see or refuse to recognize on a macro-level.

Insectopedia is a philosophical book that examines what drives us to empathize with certain creatures and not others and how beauty is in the eye of the beholder.   Raffles’ detailed inspection of the lives of individual insects—methods of travel, communication, reproduction, sight, et cetera are absolutely intriguing.   A single complaint: captions and credits for the great photographs must be hunted for in the index.

For more information on the book, including the new paperback addition and to watch a short video of the author:

http://www.randomhouse.com/book/137359/insectopedia-by-hugh-raffles

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About Colleen Miko

Colleen Miko is a certified professional horticulturist with 20 years experience in landscape design who has designed award winning gardens for the NW Flower & Garden Show as well as HGTV’s “Landscaper’s Challenge”. Colleen is a freelance garden writer and speaker who regularly writes "The Perennial Bookworm" where she reviews garden and natural science books, as well as a regular contributor to "WestSound Home & Garden Magazine" on a variety of horticulture topics.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Call me Segmented: Arthropoda & Insecta, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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