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Books

Insects & Spiders


Underbug: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology

Underbug: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology Lowest new price: $13.47
Lowest used price: $6.97
List price: $27.00
Author: Lisa Margonelli

The award-winning journalist Lisa Margonelli, national bestselling author of Oil on the Brain: Petroleum’s Long, Strange Trip to Your Tank, investigates the environmental and economic impact termites inflict on human societies in this fascinating examination of one of nature’s most misunderstood insects.

Are we more like termites than we ever imagined? In Underbug, the award-winning journalist Lisa Margonelli introduces us to the enigmatic creatures that collectively outweigh human beings ten to one and consume $40 billion worth of valuable stuff annually―and yet, in Margonelli’s telling, seem weirdly familiar. Over the course of a decade-long obsession with the little bugs, Margonelli pokes around termite mounds and high-tech research facilities, closely watching biologists, roboticists, and geneticists. Her globe-trotting journey veers into uncharted territory, from evolutionary theory to Edwardian science literature to the military industrial complex. What begins as a natural history of the termite becomes a personal exploration of the unnatural future we’re building, with darker observations on power, technology, historical trauma, and the limits of human cognition.

Whether in Namibia or Cambridge, Arizona or Australia, Margonelli turns up astounding facts and raises provocative questions. Is a termite an individual or a unit of a superorganism? Can we harness the termite’s properties to change the world? If we build termite-like swarming robots, will they inevitably destroy us? Is it possible to think without having a mind? Underbug burrows into these questions and many others―unearthing disquieting answers about the world’s most underrated insect and what it means to be human.

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Honeybee Democracy

Honeybee Democracy Lowest new price: $20.70
Lowest used price: $15.22
List price: $29.95
Author: Thomas D. Seeley
Brand: imusti

Honeybees make decisions collectively--and democratically. Every year, faced with the life-or-death problem of choosing and traveling to a new home, honeybees stake everything on a process that includes collective fact-finding, vigorous debate, and consensus building. In fact, as world-renowned animal behaviorist Thomas Seeley reveals, these incredible insects have much to teach us when it comes to collective wisdom and effective decision making. A remarkable and richly illustrated account of scientific discovery, Honeybee Democracy brings together, for the first time, decades of Seeley's pioneering research to tell the amazing story of house hunting and democratic debate among the honeybees.


In the late spring and early summer, as a bee colony becomes overcrowded, a third of the hive stays behind and rears a new queen, while a swarm of thousands departs with the old queen to produce a daughter colony. Seeley describes how these bees evaluate potential nest sites, advertise their discoveries to one another, engage in open deliberation, choose a final site, and navigate together--as a swirling cloud of bees--to their new home. Seeley investigates how evolution has honed the decision-making methods of honeybees over millions of years, and he considers similarities between the ways that bee swarms and primate brains process information. He concludes that what works well for bees can also work well for people: any decision-making group should consist of individuals with shared interests and mutual respect, a leader's influence should be minimized, debate should be relied upon, diverse solutions should be sought, and the majority should be counted on for a dependable resolution.


An impressive exploration of animal behavior, Honeybee Democracy shows that decision-making groups, whether honeybee or human, can be smarter than even the smartest individuals in them.

Features:

  • Princeton University Press

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The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife

The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife Lowest new price: $18.29
Lowest used price: $16.04
List price: $28.00
Author: Lucy Cooke

Mary Roach meets Bill Bryson in this "surefire summer winner" (Janet Maslin, New York Times), an uproarious tour of the basest instincts and biggest mysteries of the animal world

Humans have gone to the Moon and discovered the Higgs boson, but when it comes to understanding animals, we've still got a long way to go. Whether we're seeing a viral video of romping baby pandas or a picture of penguins "holding hands," it's hard for us not to project our own values--innocence, fidelity, temperance, hard work--onto animals. So you've probably never considered if moose get drunk, penguins cheat on their mates, or worker ants lay about. They do--and that's just for starters. In The Truth About Animals, Lucy Cooke takes us on a worldwide journey to meet everyone from a Colombian hippo castrator to a Chinese panda porn peddler, all to lay bare the secret--and often hilarious--habits of the animal kingdom. Charming and at times downright weird, this modern bestiary is perfect for anyone who has ever suspected that virtue might be unnatural.

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Beetles: The Natural History and Diversity of Coleoptera

Beetles: The Natural History and Diversity of Coleoptera Lowest new price: $67.33
Lowest used price: $71.99
List price: $95.00
Author: Stephen Marshall

An accessible but comprehensive overview of beetles, illustrated with 4,500 photographs.

Among Stephen Marshall's many other natural history titles are Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity and Flies: The Natural History and Diversity of Diptera, two of the most respected books on the insect world published in the last 20 years. More admirable than the books' rigorous science, however, is that they are wholly suitable for a lay audience, including student readers from high school on. The books have been adopted as classroom texts and assigned as required reading at the university level and are on the references shelves of many practicing entomologists.

In Beetles: The Natural History and Diversity of Coleoptera, Marshall has again applied his deep knowledge of the insect world. Comprehensive and packed with 27 pages of richly illustrated keys and 4,500 color illustrations, it provides the reader with a colorful and enjoyable introduction to the natural history of a huge group of organisms, along with an overview of the diversity of fascinating families included in the group. The subject of this book is an enormous one, since the beetles, or Coleoptera, include almost 400,000 named species.

Marshall opens with a description of what makes a beetle a beetle, and then introduces the natural history of the order with copious examples and explanations.

Part one of the book includes:

  • Life Histories of Beetles: Form and Function: Eggs; Larvae; Pupae, Prepupae and Cocoons; Adults; Courtship and Mating Behaviors
  • Defense and Deception: Tanks, Tricks and Coleopteran; Chemical Warfare; Brilliance and Bioluminescence in the Beetles
  • Freshwater and Marine Beetles: Freshwater beetles; Marine beetles
  • Beetle Associations with Fungi, Dung and Carrion: Beetles and Fungi; Beetles and Dung; Beetles and Dead Bodies
  • Beetles, Plants and Plant Products: Beetles and Flowers; Phytophagy and Beetle Diversity; Aposematic Beetles and Their Plant Hosts; Beetles as Agricultural and Garden Pests; Beetles and Biological Control of Weeds; Beetles and Trees
  • Beetles and Other Animals: Dangerous Beetles; Coleoptera and Culture; Beetles Indoors; Rare, Endangered and Threatened Beetles; Beetles, Birds and Wild Mammals; Beetles and Other Invertebrates.

Part two of Beetles is a guided tour of the diversity of the order, with fascinating stops for all of the world's 180 or so families of beetles as well as most of the significant subfamilies. Thousands of photos, almost all taken in the field by the author, are used to capture the range of form and function in each family, with pages of examples of the popular groups -- such as fireflies, tiger beetles, jewel beetles -- but also with unique photographs of little-known groups ranging from long-lipped beetles to the rarest rove beetles. Essential information about importance, range, behavior and biology is provided for each group, and easily used photographic keys to most families are provided for those wishing to use the book as an identification guide.

The profusely illustrated keys in Beetles, linked to the unprecedented photographic coverage of the world's beetle families and subfamilies, enable readers to identify most families of beetles quickly and accurately, and to readily access information about each family as well as hundreds of distinctive genera and species.

Like its companion titles, Insects and Flies, Beetles will be welcomed by the scientific, academic and naturalist communities, including the next generation of students of entomology.

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A Book of Bees: And How to Keep Them

A Book of Bees: And How to Keep Them Lowest new price: $9.73
Lowest used price: $7.33
List price: $14.95
Author: Sue Hubbell
Brand: Hubbell, Sue

"The real masterwork that Sue Hubbell has created is her life," David Quammen wrote in the New York Times. This book is, like its author, a unique achievement. Weaving a vivid portrait of her own life and her bees' lives through the seasons, Hubbell writes "about bees to be sure, but also about other things: the important difference between loneliness and solitude . . . the accommodating of oneself to nature" (Philadelphia Inquirer).

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Never Home Alone: True and Surprising Stories of the Creatures Who Share Our Homes

Lowest new price: $27.00
List price: $27.00
Author: Rob Dunn


Mason Bee Revolution: How the Hardest Working Bee Can Save the World - One Backyard at a Time

Mason Bee Revolution: How the Hardest Working Bee Can Save the World - One Backyard at a Time Lowest new price: $11.14
Lowest used price: $8.88
List price: $16.95
Author: Dave Hunter


The national media regularly features dire stories on honeybee colony collapse and its danger to our food supply. But there's another, unsung bee that has the potential to save the planet―the mason bee.

Mason Bee Revolution explains how docile, hard-working, solitary mason bees (and their compatriots, the leafcutter bees) are even more productive pollinators than honeybees, and keeping them can be a fun, easy, backyard hobby for gardeners, conservationists, foodies, and families everywhere.

Why these bees? Bee pollination is critical for about 80 percent of US agricultural crops, increasing crop value by an estimated $15 billion annually. Since 2006, nearly a third of all honeybee hives have been lost each year, due to parasites, pesticides, habitat loss, climate change, and a newer malady called Colony Collapse Disorder. While scientists search for answers to save the honeybee, Dave Hunter and his company, Crown Bees, are leading the effort to increase the population of other highly efficient pollinators: One mason bee can produce twelve pounds of cherries, via pollination, where it would take sixty honey bees to achieve the same.

Mason Bee Revolution is an easy-to-follow guide to keeping both mason and leafcutter bees. It tells you how to set up, care for, and harvest your own bees and what types of plants and habitat encourage mason and leafcutter bees, as well as provides general information on other common pollinators and bee-related facts, projects, and personalities.

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Pacific Northwest Insects

Pacific Northwest Insects Lowest new price: $23.11
Lowest used price: $25.41
List price: $34.95
Author: Merrill A. Peterson

This field guide sets a new standard for insect identification, making it an indispensable resource to naturalists, educators, gardeners, and others. Engaging and accessible, Pacific Northwest Insects features detailed species accounts, each with a vivid photograph of a living adult, along with information for distinguishing similar species, allowing the reader to identify more than 3,000 species found from southern British Columbia to northern California, and as far east as Montana. The book features most of the commonly encountered insects, spiders, scorpions, millipedes, centipedes, and kin in the Pacific Northwest, as well as representatives of an amazing variety of unusual and interesting insects living in the area. After more than a decade of research, reviewing hundreds of thousands of museum specimens and scouring the technical entomological literature, Merrill Peterson has brought together for the first time in a single volume a wealth of information on the region's insect life.

Detailed identifying information on over 3,000 species
Complete description of 1,200 species
Organized by insect group for easy identification
Up-to-date taxonomy
1,725 color photos, 50 line drawings, and 2 maps

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Beginning Beekeeping: Everything You Need to Make Your Hive Thrive!

Beginning Beekeeping: Everything You Need to Make Your Hive Thrive! Lowest new price: $8.95
Lowest used price: $4.45
List price: $21.95
Author: Tanya Phillips
Brand: ALPHA

Beginning Beekeeping is a simple, straightforward approach that gives you the basics to get started with beekeeping, while following a balanced, objective approach that weighs the pros and cons of conventional and organic methodologies.

Featuring more than 120 beautiful color photos, this guide will help you will learn how to foster and maintain healthy, vibrant hive colonies, as well as to incorporate the various techniques and practices for keeping bees using conventional as well as more natural practices. In addition, you will learn how to troubleshoot and treat potential hive issues such as swarming, combating common pests, and alleviating other potentially destructive hive conditions. This helpful guide also explores how to create hives that are self-sustaining, with minimal intervention from the keeper. Additional content also covers how to maximize the benefits of a backyard hive for a more vibrant garden as well as rich, bountiful honey harvests.

Features:

  • ALPHA

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The Worm Farmer’s Handbook: Mid- to Large-Scale Vermicomposting for Farms, Businesses, Municipalities, Schools, and Institutions

The Worm Farmer’s Handbook: Mid- to Large-Scale Vermicomposting for Farms, Businesses, Municipalities, Schools, and Institutions Lowest new price: $19.88
Lowest used price: $19.71
List price: $29.95
Author: Rhonda Sherman

Techniques and systems for processing food scraps, manure, yard debris, paper, and more

Turning waste into wealth sounds too good to be true, but many worm farmers are finding that vermicomposting is a reliable way to do just that. Vermicast―a biologically active, nutrient-rich mix of earthworm castings and decomposed organic matter―sells for $400 or more per cubic yard. Compare that to regular compost, sold at about $30 a cubic yard, and you’ll see why vermicomposting has taken root in most countries and on every continent but Antarctica.

Vermicomposting is also one of the best sustainable solutions for organic waste management. Vermicomposting manure and crop wastes on farms improves crop yields while reducing demand for off-farm inputs. Vermicast has higher nutrient levels and lower soluble salt content than regular compost, and it improves soil aeration, porosity, and water retention. Plus, vermicast suppresses plant diseases and insect attacks. Municipalities, businesses, community gardens, schools, and universities can set up vermicomposting operations to process food residuals and other waste materials.

The Worm Farmer’s Handbook details the ins and outs of vermicomposting for mid- to large-scale operations, including how to recycle organic materials ranging from food wastes and yard trimmings to manure and shredded office paper. Vermicomposting expert Rhonda Sherman shares what she has learned over twenty-five years working with commercial worm growers and researchers around the world. Her profiles of successful worm growers across the United States and from New Zealand to the Middle East and Europe describe their proven methods and systems.

This book digs into all the details, including:

  • Choosing the right production system
  • Regulatory issues and developing a business and marketing plan
  • Finding and managing feedstocks
  • Pre-composting: why and how to do it
  • Monitoring an active worm bed
  • Harvesting, screening, testing, packaging, and storing vermicast
  • Markets for earthworms and vermicast
  • Food security: how vermicast benefits soils and plants
  • Keys to success: avoiding common pitfalls

From livestock farms and restaurants to colleges, military bases, and prisons, Sherman details why and how commercial-scale vermicomposting is a fast-growing, sustainable solution for organic waste management. The Worm Farmer’s Handbook is the first and only authoritative how-to guide that goes beyond small-scale operations and demystifies the science and logistics of the fascinating process that is vermicomposting.

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