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An enthusiastic, witty, and informative introduction to the world of insects and why we—and the planet we inhabit—could not survive without them.
Insects comprise roughly half of the animal kingdom. They live everywhere—deep inside caves, 18,000 feet high in the Himalayas, inside computers, in Yellowstone’s hot springs, and in the ears and nostrils of much larger creatures. There are insects that have ears on their knees, eyes on their penises, and tongues under their feet. Most of us think life would be better without bugs. In fact, life would be impossible without them.
Most of us know that we would not have honey without honeybees, but without the pinhead-sized chocolate midge, cocoa flowers would not pollinate. No cocoa, no chocolate. The ink that was used to write the Declaration of Independence was derived from galls on oak trees, which are induced by a small wasp. The fruit fly was essential to medical and biological research experiments that resulted in six Nobel prizes. Blowfly larva can clean difficult wounds; flour beetle larva can digest plastic; several species of insects have been essential to the development of antibiotics. Insects turn dead plants and animals into soil. They pollinate flowers, including crops that we depend on. They provide food for other animals, such as birds and bats. They control organisms that are harmful to humans. Life as we know it depends on these small creatures.
With ecologist Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson as our capable, entertaining guide into the insect world, we’ll learn that there is more variety among insects than we can even imagine and the more you learn about insects, the more fascinating they become. Buzz, Sting, Bite is an essential introduction to the little creatures that make the world go round.
About the Author
Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson is a professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences near Oslo and a scientific advisor to the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research. She holds a doctorate in conservation biology and teaches nature management and forest ecology. The author of Extraordinary Insects, Anne is also an ultra-marathon runner.
"Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson writes about insects with such enthusiasm and affection, you’ll wish you were an entomologist! But it’s never too late to develop a love for bugs, and Buzz, Sting, Bite is the perfect guide—filled with surprising, fascinating, and often extremely funny stories.”
— Thor Hanson, author of Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees
“Charming. . . . Sverdrup-Thygeson strives to make you like insects, too, highlighting them in all their buzzing, stinging, biting glory.”
— Sam Kean
“We live on the planet of insects, and Sverdrup-Thygeson brings it to life in this sharp, good-humored presentation. . . . A classy and brightly informative appreciation of insects—all you could ask for in a popular natural history.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Insects — from jewel beetles to stink bugs — present an embarrassment of riches, as ecologist Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson spectacularly proves. She tours their anatomy, reproduction and more, delivering a hail of facts with brio and precision.”
— Barbara Kiser
"Sverdrup-Thygeson is a lively, witty, and discerning guide through the scientific lore surrounding some of the tiniest—though still very powerful—organisms on Earth."
— Michael Berry
"A cornucopia of fascinating insights that paint a portrait of the deep interconnectedness of human culture with our six-legged friends."
— Lynn Dicks
"The author possesses an infectious enthusiasm for the bugs she profiles and manages to imbue every maxilla and mating habit with wonder. . . . Buzz, Sting, Bite will foster affection for its winged, creeping, and crawling subjects, even among its most bug-shy readers."
“If you want to spend a few hours glorying in the unconsidered world of insects, and marveling at a new fact every page or two . . . then Buzz, Sting, Bite is a joy.”
— The Times (London)
“[Sverdrup-Thygeson] guides us round a huge cabinet of curiosities, and is the best kind of teacher. The stories she tells are so strange and absorbing that we don’t notice that we’re being systematically educated. . . . She has a serious purpose, and succeeds magnificently.”
— Charles Foster
“Conservation biologist Sverdrup-Thygeson exudes an infectious enthusiasm for all things entomological in this curiosity-provoking primer.”
— Publishers Weekly
"A very enthusiastic look at the flying, crawling, stinging bug universe world, and why we should cherish it."
— John Timpane
"Sverdrup-Thygeson writes like a scientist but in a spare, charming way. . . . The book is stuffed with the kind of trivia that wouldn’t be out of place at a bar (bees can recognize human faces! cockroaches can be used to search bomb sites!), but it’s also a deftly woven treatise on why we need insects and why they need us to survive."
— Heather Hansman
"Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson writes playfully and accessibly about the world of insects — where they live, how they thrive, what we can learn from them, why they're so necessary. . . . Fascinating."