BROADSIDES FROM THE OTHER ORDERS by Sue Hubbell

BROADSIDES FROM THE OTHER ORDERS

A Book of Bugs
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 More delightful nature writing from the author of A Book of Bees (1988) and A Country Year (1986). This time, Hubbell pulls off a tour de force, managing to turn those horrid creatures--bugs--into beings not only fascinating but even lovable. Rather than survey the entire range of the little beasts, she focuses on ten favorites, and on the entomologists who study them--who sometimes seem as peculiar as their subjects. First up: butterflies. A wise choice, everyone loves them. Hubbell revels in the Xerces Society's annual Fourth of July butterfly count and befriends a lepidopterist who uses a net named Martha. On to moths and flies, silverfish and katydids. Odd facts gather like ants around a sugar cube: 25% of all animal species are beetles; dragonflies zoom at 60 mph; there may be 50 million midges in a single swarm. Odd scientists pop up too, like the daddy longlegs specialist who can identify individual species of this abused arachnid (young boys like to pluck off its legs) simply by smell. But best here is the hands-on adventure, as when Hubbell goes ladybug-harvesting with the pros and rounds up millions of the critters in one day, or travels to Medford, Massachusetts, to track down the house from which the first gypsy moth escaped to devastate America's trees. She confesses to spending ``unconscionable amounts of time'' watching water striders walk on water, and allows that she is perhaps the only person who keeps camel crickets as pets. Just a few bugs come off as villains--above all, the black fly, which causes river blindness in Africa, although Hubbell reports that this pest may soon be eradicated: a legal, and much applauded, deliberate extinction of a species. Hubbell at her best, abuzz with brightness. (Fifty-six terrific, prickly b&w line drawings of creepy-crawlies)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-40062-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993




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