A NATURAL HISTORY OF TERMITES by Frances L. Behnke

A NATURAL HISTORY OF TERMITES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A comprehensive introduction to termites and termite society: their digestive systems and cooperative eating habits; their caste system and highly coordinated behavior; the variety of their nests and their control of the environment therein; their communication by pheromones; and their swarming, colonizing, and reproductive patterns. There is much information and Behnke takes pains to organize it in terms of orienting concepts, but unfortunately (and oddly, as she is a science educator by profession), she isn't at home with writing for children. On the one hand she makes frequent unhelpful comparisons between termites and humans (from their general body parts and sophistication of shelters to recycling of wastes-- they eat each others' feces, we do it on space flights), but on the other hand there is her uncompromising textbookish style, characterized by an offhand use of such terms as scenario, triggering factors, and void (as a verb) and such statements as ""Termite societies run more smoothly than human societies because the cooperative interactions of individual members are stereotyped"" (no further explanation). Again: ""The higher group of termites. . . are liberated from dependence on wood and exploit foods such as hay, leaf litter, and soil with the help of bacteria."" Dry reading then, though the details are there for the digging.

Pub Date: June 10th, 1977
Publisher: Scribners