Today we live in snug, well-furnished houses surrounded by the trappings of a civilised life. But we are not alone – we suffer a constant stream of unwanted visitors. Our houses, our food, our belongings, our very existence are under constant attack from a host of invaders eager to take advantage of our shelter, our food stores and our tasty soft furnishings.
From bats in the belfry to beetles in the cellar, moths in the wardrobe and mosquitoes in the bedroom, humans cannot escape the attentions of the animal kingdom. Nature may be red in tooth and claw, but when it's our blood the bedbugs are after, when it's our cereal bowl that's littered with mouse droppings, and when it's our favourite chair that collapses due to woodworm in the legs, it really brings it home the fact that we and our homes are part of nature too.
House Guests, House Pests represents a 21st century version of the classic Mediaeval bestiary. It poses questions such as where these animals came from, can we live with them, can we get rid of them, and should we? Written in Richard Jones's engaging style and with a funky-retro design, House Guests, House Pests will be a book to treasure.
"BOOK OF THE MONTH: Amiable but authoritative [...] exceptionally readable, but imbued with a powerful sense that 'Bugman Jones' is a man who'd discuss tapeworms enthusiastically at dinner."
– BBC Wildlife
" [...] a new book House Guests, House Pests: A Natural History of Animals in the Home, by the distinguished entomologist Richard Jones. His enthusiasm is persuasive."
– Horatio Clare, Country Life
"Jones, a fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, is a learned guide to this alarming panoply of intruders, from the bacon beetle (Dermestes lardarius), a vagrant of old-fashioned larders, to the noisy edible dormouse (Glis glis), which can infest the attics of rural houses."
– Barbara Kiser, Nature
"From bed bugs to woodworm our homes are a refuge for all manner of fauna – but should we be rolling out the red carpet? Jones digs out his magnifying glass and explores the issue."
– Tech Monthly, The Observer
1. Introduction. My house is my home — it’s their home too, though, apparently.
2. The attractions of home. Shelter, food and respite — it’s the formula for success.
3. Shelter. Casual visitors, guests and interlopers, roosting the night (or the winter) away.
4. Making a mess everywhere. The enormous attractions of human food.
5. Eating us out of house and home. Stored supplies, in the warehouse, the cellar, the larder and the pantry.
6. Eating the house and the home. Woodworm, clothes moths, carpet beetles and termites.
7. They’re after us. Blood-suckers — will it bite?
8. Hangers on. A strange rag-tag of others who eke out the strangest of livings.
9. To live and let live? Or squish ‘em?
10. Appendix. Rogues gallery and identification guide. Simple pictorial guide to the animals mentioned in the book.
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Richard Jones is one of the co-authors of Little Book of Nits. A fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and past president of the British Entomological Society, Richard now writes about insects, nature and the environment for BBC Wildlife, the Guardian, Gardeners' World and Country Living.