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Entomology -- Insect Behavior

The following sources are recommended by a professor whose research specialty is insect behavior.


Six Superlative Sources

· Alcock, J. 1998. Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach. Sinauer Assoc. Although this book is titled Animal Behavior, it strongly reflects the fact that the author himself does research on insect behavior. About a third of the examples in the book pertain specifically to insects, and a further advantage of this book is that it considers insect behavior within the larger context of animal behavior in general, providing a much stronger foundation than a book strictly limited to insect behavior.

· Matthews, R.W., and Matthews, J.R. 1978. Insect Behavior. Wiley. This book provides perhaps the best breadth of topics strictly within the realm of insect behavior.

· Entomology on World-Wide Web at Colorado State University. This was the first World Wide Web site devoted to entomology, in continuous operation since February 1994.

· Entomology Index of Internet Resources at Iowa State University. Another excellent site on entomology.

· Alien Empire. This is a web site companion to the PBS Nature series of programs and videocassettes. Titles are: "Voyagers and War of the Worlds," "Hardware and Replicators," and "Battlezone and Metropolis." Enter the bizarre world of insects for an unforgettable encounter with the alien life that surrounds you. Stunning micro-photography and multisensory digital effects propel you into a world of unimaginable power, intelligence, beauty and terror. Watch territorial killers like the Robber Fly, Bombardier Beetle and Assassin Bug, as they build intricate colonies and battle fiercely for survival and supremacy. Also available as a set of three videocassettes, Item A2313.

· Insect World and Apes to Man. Volume 3 of the Planet of Life series. Discovery Channel, 1998. VHS. This videotape is superb.

Other Excellent Sources

· Adams, Jean, ed. 1992. Insect Potpourri: Adventures in Entomology. St. Lucie Press. Basic biology of insects and practical efforts to control insect populations. Quality is variable from chapter to chapter, but still about six good chapters.

· Akre, R.D., Paulson, G.S., and Catts, E.P., 1992. Insects Did It First. Ye Galleon Press. A view of insect achievements organized by function, with chapters on bungee jumping, radar jamming, velcro, and bikinis. Sample text is available at

· Andrews, M. 1976. The Life that Lives on Man. Taplinger Publishing. Extremely well-written account of human parasites, great fun to read.

· Barton-Browne, L. 1974. Experimental Analysis of Insect Behaviour. Springer-Verlag.

· Bates, Marston. 1949. The Natural History of Mosquitoes. Macmillan. Reprinted by Harper and Row, 1965.

· Berenbaum, May. 1989. Ninety-Nine Gnats, Nits, and Nibblers. University of Illinois-Urbana Press. A dazzling array of short essays on insects, from the same entomologist who brought the Insect Fear Film Festival to the entomological community.

· Berenbaum, May. 1993. Ninety-Nine More Maggots, Mites, and Munchers. University of Illinois-Urbana Press. The sequel.

· Berenbaum, May. 1995. Bugs in the System. Addison-Wesley. A tour-de-force about the impact of insects on human affairs.

· Bernays, E.A. 1994. Host-Plant Selection by Phytophagous Insects. Chapman and Hall.

· Carson, Rachel. 1962. Silent Spring. Houghton Mifflin. Probably influenced the social responsibility of entomologists more than any other book.

· Comstock, John Henry. 1903. Insect Life. D. Appleton and Company.

· Darwin, Charles. 1895. The Various Contrivances by which Orchids are Fertilized by Insects. D. Appleton and Company.

· Dethier, Vincent G. 1962. To Know a Fly. Holden-Day. A humorous history of the author's laboratory experiments on the feeding physiology of the fly, and the ingenuity required to design experiments that will tell us how an insect decides what to eat.

· Dethier, Vincent G. 1980. The World of the Tent-Makers. University of Massachusetts Press. Everything you want to know about the natural history of tent caterpillars, presented from the perspective of the insect. Excellent literary style.

· Dethier, Vincent G. 1992. Crickets and Katydids, Concerts and Solos. Harvard University Press. The world of insect songsters.

· Dunn, G.A. 1993. Caring for Insect Livestock: An Insect Rearing Manual. Young Entomologists' Society, Inc., 1915 Peggy Place, Lansing, MI 48910-2553 For the 59 insects (and related arthropods) most popularly used in displays and classrooms.

· Eldred, Eric, and Fabre, J. Henri. The Life of the Caterpillar.

· Evans, Howard Ensign. 1963. Wasp Farm. Cornell University Press. Two natural historians buy a farm and study the nesting behavior and life history of their six-legged livestock.

· Evans, Howard Ensign. 1966. The Comparative Ethology and Evolution of the Sand Wasps. Harvard University Press.

· Evans, Howard Ensign. 1966. Life on a Little-Known Planet. Dell Publishing Co. The book that probably attracted more of us to the profession of entomology than any other. Each chapter is about a different kind of insect.

· Evans, Howard Ensign. 1968. Life on a Little-Known Planet. Dutton.

· Evans, Howard Ensign. 1985. The Pleasures of Entomology. Smithsonian Institution Press. Each chapter is a vignette of a different insect species (lovebug, flea, boll weevil, Mormon cricket, gypsy moth, killer bees, blister beetles, medfly, bee-wolf, marsh flies, milkweed bug, tobacco hornworm).

· Fabre, J.H. 1991. Insect World of J. Henri Fabre. Beacon Press. A superb translation of the natural history of insect behavior published by Jean Henri Fabre, who worked in France in the late nineteenth century.

· Fitzhugh, Bill. 1997. Pest Control. Avon Books. About a guy trying to cross-breed assassin bugs for his all-natural pest control company. Warner Brothers bought it to make a movie.

· Fraenkel, G.S., and Gunn, D.L. 1961. The Orientation of Animals, Kineses, Taxes and Compass Reactions. Dover.

· Gordon, David George. 1996. The Compleat Cockroach. Ten Speed Press. "This book is so comprehensive (and witty) that you will quickly become a veritable cockroach expert..." Young Entomologists' Society NewsBulletin, December 1996

· Heath, Jim. The Fly in Your Eye. About the war in Australia between dung beetles and bush flies.

· Heinrich, Bernd. 1979. Bumblebee Economics. Harvard University Press. How bumblebees make it through a typical year, including natural history and energy budgets.

· Heinrich, Bernd. 1984. In a Patch of Fireweed. Harvard University Press. A natural history romp that includes more on the bees, but looks at some other holometabola, including dung beetles, moths, and wasps.

· Holldobler, Bert, and Wilson, Edward O. 1994. Journey to the Ants. Belknap Press. The authors interweave their personal adventures with the social lives of ants.

· Hubbell, Sue. 1986. A Country Year. Random House. Formerly a non-biologist, Sue Hubbell moved to an old farm in the Ozarks and went into business as a professional beekeeper.

· Hubbell, Sue. 1993. Broadsides from the Other Orders. Random House. From honeybees to some of their less industrious cousins.

· Hutchins, Ross E. 1959. Insect Builders and Craftsmen. Rand McNally.

· Maeterlinck, Maurice. 1914. The Life of the Bee. Dodd-Mead. A lawyer who turned entomologist and wrote an unexpected bestseller about his hymenopteran companions.

· Maeterlinck, Maurice. 1927. The Life of the White Ant. Dodd-Mead. More entomology from a lawyer who redeemed himself by taking up loftier pursuits.

· Maeterlinck, Maurice. 1930. The Life of the Ant. Quinn and Boden. And yet another entomological tome to ward off all those lawyer jokes.

· Menzel, R., and Mercer, A. 1987. Neurobiology and Behavior of Honeybees. Springer-Verlag.

· Oldroyd, Harold. 1964. The Natural History of Flies. W.W. Norton.

· Papaj, D.R., and Lewis, A.C. 1993. Insect Learning: Ecological and Evolutionary Perspectives. Chapman and Hall.

· Paulos, Martha. 1995. InsectAsides: Great Poets on Man's Pest Friend. Viking Studio Books. Insect rapture from the likes of Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth, Christopher Morley, and William Blake.

· Roeder, K.D. 1998. Nerve Cells and Insect Behavior. Harvard University Press.

· Rothschild, Miriam, and Clay, Theresa. 1952. Fleas, Flukes and Cuckoos: A Study of Bird Parasites. Collins New Naturalist Series. Not entirely about entomology, but very well written and also very funny in places.

· Ryan, Lisa G. 1996. Insect Musicians and Cricket Champions. China Books and Periodicals.

· Teale, Edwin Way. 1949. The Insect World. of J. Henri Fabre. Harper and Row. The story of Fabre, the first person to study insect behavior in depth, with chapters on caterpillars, hunting wasps, peacock moth, bees, scarab beetles, praying mantis, red ants, froghoppers, burying beetles, weevils, crickets, and glow-worms.

· Tinbergen, Niko. 1958. Curious Naturalists. Doubleday. An excellent personal history from the field notebooks of a Nobel prize-winning naturalist, with half the chapters on insects (the other half on birds), including his work on bee-hunters, sand wasps, and butterflies.

· von Frisch, Karl. 1953. The Dancing Bees. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. The story of a Nobel prize-winning naturalist who discovered how bees use a dance language to communicate with nestmates about the location of food sources.

· von Frisch, Karl. 1967, 1993. The Dance Language and Orientation of Bees. Harvard University Press. Another readable account of bee dance language.

· Werber, Bernard. Rocques, Margaret (translator). 1998. Empire of the Ants. Bantam Doubleday Dell. A science fiction novel that starts with the complexities of an ant colony, extrapolated into a wild, weird adventure.

· Wheeler, William Morton. 1910. Ants: Their Structure, Development and Behavior. Columbia University Press. Appendices including key to subfamilies, genera, and subgenera of North American Formicidae and a list of described species.

· Wheeler, William Morton. 1930. Demons of the Dust. W.W. Norton. A lucid presentation of the natural history of ant lions.

· Wigglesworth, Vincent B. 1976. Insects and the Life of Man. Halsted Press. Collected essays on pure science and applied biology.

· Zinsser, Hans. 1935. Rats, Lice and History. Blue Ribbon Books. "...being a study in biography, which, after twelve preliminary chapters indispensable for the preparation of the lay reader, deals with the life history of typhus fever." How can you resist?

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