Insects truly are the ugly ducklings of the natural world. How does something as beautiful as a butterfly begin life as little more than a fancy maggot? Or something as elegant and delicate as a lacewing hatch out looking like a minuscule escapee from a horror movie? What are the circumstances that require a creature to transform from one body shape into another, a shape that is often so utterly different from the first that you would be forgiven for thinking they were completely unrelated organisms?
Metamorphosis: Astonishing Insect Transformations illustrate some of the dramatic transformations insects undergo in their life cycles and explore why evolution has arrived at these remarkable solutions to survival. The aim of the book is to show remarkable transformations, some of which most people could never see in a lifetime.
Metamorphosis: Astonishing Insect Transformations is divided into two main sections: Insects that undergo partial metamorphosis such as dragonflies, grasshoppers and bugs. Here the young resemble the adult, changing gradually with each moult. Insects that experience a complete metamorphosis such as butterflies, moths, beetles, bees, wasps, ants and flies. In these species the young bear no resemblance to the adult in appearance, habitat or diet, until they pupate.
Rupert Soskin spent two years on this unique project to photograph a range of selected species at each stage of development – from egg, to larva, to pupa and finally fully formed adult.
Introduction: Out of the Darkness 8
Survival strategies: Coping with danger and competition 15
Metamorphosis: The process of change 20
Orthoptera: Crickets, grasshoppers and their relatives 30
Phasmatodea: The stick and leaf insects 46
Mantodea: The mantises 70
Psocoptera: Bark and book lice 84
Hemiptera: The true bugs 88
Neuroptera: Lacewings and their relatives 110
Coleoptera: The beetles 130
Diptera: The true flies 148
Lepidoptera: Butterflies and moths 174
Hymenoptera: Wasps, bees, ants and their relatives 210
The Dark Side 236
Photographing Wildlife 244
Bibliography & Further Reading 251
Rupert Soskin is a something of a Renaissance man. He is a photographer, writer, presenter, naturalist and explorer. Most recently, he has been involved a long term project exploring the extraordinary biodiversity of a field close to where he lives which has allowed him to explore his passion for photographing insects and entomology. For this book, he set up a special studio and spent two years photographing the life-cycles of a range of insects as they emerged from the egg as larvae, changed form, became a chrysalis and emerged as adults.