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A journey into the weird, wonderful and truly astonishing lives of the small but mighty creatures who keep the world turning.
When Charles Darwin declared that the brain of an ant was perhaps more marvellous than the brain of man he had only scratched the surface of how instrumental insects are in explaining the history and the future of the Earth, and humans' existence within in.
Out of sight, underfoot, unseen beyond fleeting scuttles or darting flights, insects occupy a hidden world, yet are essential to sustaining our entire natural landscape. Weird, wonderful, astonishing insects work quietly and tirelessly to complete the eternal and crucial circle of life and death on Earth. Bark beetles throw parties in the fermenting sap; termites cultivate fungi for food; ants farm lice for honey dew; flour beetle larva digest plastic; blowfly larva heal wounds; and all ensure that what is dead is decomposed, ready to become life once again.
But their private lives are also full of fun, intrigue and wonder from musical mating rituals to house hunting for armies of beetle babies, developing flying techniques that inspire the US air force and metamorphosing into entirely new characters. Insects influence our ecosystem like a ripple effect on water. They were here when life first moved to dry land, they preceded and survived the dinosaurs, and they will be here long after us. After reading this extraordinary book you might think again before swatting a fly or squashing an ant.
Please note that this book has been published in the US under the title Buzz, Sting, Bite: Why We Need Insects.
Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson is a professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in As, Norway, as well as a scientific advisor for The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research NINA. She has a Doctorate degree in conservation biology and lectures on nature management and forest biodiversity. Her research focuses on insect ecology. In addition she has studied history and is interested in outreach activities, runs a science blog and is a regular guest on the popular science radio programme EKKO - Abel's Tower on NRK P2.
"Extraordinary Insects is a joy"
– The Times
"Erudite, enlightening and entertaining [...] a timely reminder of the fragility of our ecosystem and the vital role that insects play in the future of the planet and humanity's existence"
"Extraordinary Insects is packed with wondrous information. There are more than 200 million insects on Earth for every human being and anyone wanting to learn more about them will find this book fascinating"
– Daily Express
"A fascinating new book [that] tells the remarkable story of insects living right under our noses"
– The Sun
"The enthusiasm of Professor Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson for insects is infectious. She communicates her extensive scientific knowledge in elegant, readable prose. A brilliant, informative read, full of fascinating facts about the species that help keep the world on an even keel."
– Sunday Express
"[Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson] guides us round a huge cabinet of curiosities, and is the best kind of teacher. The stories she tells are so strange and absorbing that we don't notice that we're being systematically educated. [She] champions the insects primarily to champion us. She has a serious purpose, and succeeds magnificently."
– Evening Standard
"A riotous party of colour, noise and humour, from the scatological to the sublime."
– Resurgence and Ecologist Magazine
"Sverdrup-Thygeson, a Norwegian professor of life sciences, writes with such infectious and well-informed enthusiasm that it's impossible not to develop a new-found respect for insects."
– Reader's Digest
"This excellent book by a Norwegian entomologist is filled with such infectious enthusiasm for the insect world [...] It's a book that will change the way you see the world. A genuine must-read."
– WI Life Magazine
"A refreshing and surprising insight into some of the most underappreciated critters."
– Magic Radio Book Club