Tag Archive for: insects


The poems in Fiona Benson’s Bioluminescent Baby reveal the short yet urgent lives of insects. Originally commissioned by University of Exeter’s ‘Project Urgency’ as a commentary on the looming biodiversity disaster, and reprinted in her collection Ephemeron in a section entitled Insect Love Songs.

In this haunting poem from Bioluminescent Baby about the glow worm Benson lures us into the life of the insect, not by anthropomorphising it but by siting their behaviour besides ours; in petrol stations, the city’s neon lights, where “the dark is drowned. ” Hinting at the precarity of reproduction as glow-worms and fireflies are uniquely susceptible to light pollution. Suggesting a parallel to how we once “wandered in the lanes,” seeking brief and perhaps illicit encounters.

“Benson is interested in what insects tell us about life itself – and instinct. The opening poem, Love Poem, Lampyridae Lampyris noctiluca, is about a firefly that uses bioluminescence to attract its mate. It is a poem of drive and precision.” Kate Kellaway, The Observer. Fiona Benson has published two previous collections, both shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize: Bright Travellers (Cape, 2014) Vertigo and Ghost (Cape, 2019)


This childhood classic is praised for its iconic collage art style, featuring pages with holes in where the caterpillar has eaten. The Very Hungry Caterpillar not only entertains young learners, but also introduces them to healthy eating, counting, days of the week, and metamorphosis. It remains a popular choice of parents worldwide.

Carle also authored The Grouchy Ladybird and The Very Quiet Cricket introducing natural history to the very young reader.


This beautifully illustrated book provides an overview of the world of insects. It begins by exploring the evolution of the insect family, looking at their basic anatomy, their fascinating life cycles, and their social organisation within colonies and nests.

It explains how insects jump, leap and fly, how they defend themselves and their colonies from attack, and the methods by which they eat, including sucking, biting, chewing, grinding, and filter feeding.

Organised according to geographical region, this book looks at every order of insect, from the tiniest opaque wingless creature to the largest and most spectacular beetle. The most common species from each are included, and many are illustrated with beautifully detailed watercolours.


A beautifully illustrated exploration of the world’s insects, an astounding 3.5 million species occupying virtually every habitat on Earth. The Complete Insect explores all aspects of the natural history of these remarkable creatures, providing a close-up look at their fascinating anatomy, physiology, evolution, ecology and behaviour.

It features hundreds of stunning colour photographs and illustrations and draws on a broad range of examples, from ants to iridescent jewel beetles. A celebration of the rich complexity of insect life, The Complete Insect is a must-have book for insect enthusiasts and armchair naturalists.


Dr. Timothy Schowalter has created a unique, updated treatment of insect ecology. He looks at how insects adapt to environmental conditions and how they have the ability to substantially alter their environment.

Covering a range of topics including from how individual insects respond to local changes in the environment and affect resource distribution, to how entire insect communities have the capacity to modify ecosystem conditions.

There are chapters on ecosystem structure and function, and how herbivores, pollinators and seed predators drive ecosystem dynamics and contribute to ecosystem stability.


Rebugging the Planet shows us how bugs are beautiful, inventive and economically invaluable. Responsible for pollinating plants, feeding birds, defending crops and cleaning water systems. With 40% of insect species at risk of extinction and a third more endangered, our planet is heading towards an insect apocalypse. She suggests we have to start giving worms, spiders, beetles, ladybirds and butterflies the space they need to flourish.

Rebugging the Planet is a manual written with infectious joy presenting practical bug-friendly suggestions for gardening and farming. It shows how small changes can have a big impact on our littlest allies.

The Royal Entomological Society write that Rebugging the Planet, “is a manifesto for a green revolution aimed at the layman, a tool kit to enable individuals to make changes to the way that they live, and offers advice on how to put pressure on various layers of society, from friends and neighbours to local politicians and national government, in order to bring about a greener, more diverse world.”


In this seminal text published in 1962 Carson exposed the hazards of pesticides including the notorious DDT, questioned humanity’s faith in technological progress and kickstarted the environmental movement. Carson, a renowned nature author and a former marine biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was uniquely equipped to create what was considered at the time a startling and inflammatory book.

Carson argued that chemical treatment of soils led to the destruction of beneficial biological species and resulted in an imbalance to the ecosystem. Furthermore, she emphasised chlorinated hydrocarbons and organophosphates as the main cause of bird and fish fatalities, and human nervous system disorders. Her work is characterised by meticulous research and a poetic evocation of the subject. Carson concluded that the human desire of total control of nature is conceived in arrogance.


An ambitious debut novel that follows three generations of beekeepers from past, present, and future. The History of Bees joins their narratives into a gripping and thought provoking tale which is as much about the powerful relationships between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to the bees and to nature.

A deeply moving story of dystopia and hope, The History of Bees resonates powerfully with our most pressing environmental concerns. Moving through the past and precarious present into an uncertain future it reveals how much our existence depends on the survival of the bees.

“As a lover of honeybees and a fan of speculative fiction, I was doubly smitten by The History of Bees. Maja Lunde’s novel is an urgent reminder of how much our survival depends on those remarkable insects. It is also a gripping account of how—despite the cruellest losses—humanity may abide and individual families can heal.” Jean Hegland, author of Into the Forest.


Jonathan Wells and his young family come to Paris, to flat 3, Rue des Sybarites inheriting the dusty apartment with the warning from his eccentric uncle: Never go down into the cellar. When the family dog escapes down the cellar stairs they accidentally threaten the security of a hidden civilisation as intelligent and complex as our own.

Empire of the Ants is a brilliant evocation of this hidden civilisation, far more ancient than ours, a fascinating realm where boats are built of leaves and greenflies are domesticated and milked like cows, where citizens lock antennae in communication and fight wars with precisely coordinated armies using sprays of glue and acids that can dissolve a snail.

Originally written in French, published in 1991 as Les Fourmis, this intriguing novel by Bernard Werber was translated into English as Empire of the Ants. It has sold more than two million copies and been translated into more than 30 languages. In the tradition of Watership Down but with a dark, original twist. Unique and daring, Empire of the Ants tells the story of an ordinary family and a colony of ants determined to survive at any cost. This vividly captures the lives and struggles of a fellow species and the valuable lessons they have to teach us.


The Old Drift is the debut novel by Zambian author Namwali Serpell. It follows the lives of three interwoven families in four generations from colonial times to modern Zambia. In this epic story a swarm of mosquitos narrate in a repeated ‘Greek Chorus’, giving us a view of human history from a species that knows our skin and blood. It has been described as the Great Zambian Novel and reviewed for The New York Times Review of Books by Salman Rushdie.

In The Old Drift, Serpell experiments with different points of view introducing extraordinary characters, “a woman covered with hair and another plagued with endless tears, forbidden love affairs and fiery political ones, and homegrown technological marvels like Afronauts, microdrones and viral vaccines. It is a playful panorama of history, fairytale, romance and science fiction. The moral? To err is human. The Old Drift is a testament to our yearning to create and cross borders, and a meditation on the slow, grand passage of time.”  Winner of the 2020 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and Arthur C. Clarke Award.