Famous foe of forestry professionals and despised spreader of Dutch elm disease, bark beetles have a bad reputation: the World's Worst Forest Pests. They chew through timber profits and kill healthy trees, turning forests from carbon sinks into carbon sources. But entomologist Jiri Hulcr sees more to these evil weevils than meets the eye, and offers you a closer look – literally. With science journalist Marc Abrahams, Hulcr offers a funny and informative introduction to these under-studied and underappreciated insects.
This lively book turns cutting-edge research into an enjoyable tour through the miniature world of a charming critter. Vivid macrophotography captures every aspect of bark beetle life in stunning detail, from their dramatic family stories and curiously endearing looks to their mating strategies, and the secret fungus farms where they cultivate their own "ambrosia". You'll learn how much we don't know about bark beetles – and what that means for science's attempts to control them as climate change alters their habitats. Whether you're a scientist seeking up-to-date pest management strategies or you're just wondering if your backyard trees are at risk, The Surprising Lives of Bark Beetles will help you better understand the latest discoveries in beetle symbioses, molecular biology, and ecology. But be warned: at the end of this read you may be filled with affection for these adorable and astonishing beetles.
Jiri Hulcr is associate professor of forest entomology at the University of Florida and a founding member of ProForest, a forest health research group. Marc Abrahams is a science writer, the editor of Annals of Improbable Research, and the founder of the Ig Nobel Prize.
"[A] spirited tour [...] [Hulcr and Abrahams] do a stellar job of recasting their maligned subjects as being more worthy of study than scorn. Budding entomologists will find lots to appreciate."
– Publishers Weekly
"A thorough and enthralling introduction to some of the most important insects on the planet. This should be required reading for anyone with an interest in natural history, forestry, climatology, or sci-comm."
– Eric R. Eaton, author of Wasps: The Astonishing Diversity of a Misunderstood Insect
"Get acquainted with bark beetles in this science-y (yet accessible) book! You'll get a fascinating look at the biology, behavior and biodiversity of these little animals and their impact on humans and forests all over the world. The photos are incredible – they will make you a fan of these tiny, powerful insects!"
– Kristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker, The Bug Chicks
"A gift to the world. Packed with scientific information, but written in a lighthearted way that allows any reader to understand. We need more books like this!"
– Isa Betancourt, host of the BugScope webcast
"An enjoyable read delving into the amazing lives of bark beetles. These insects may be small, but they are incredibly complex and can have huge impacts on our forests, especially if we have stressed their ecosystem by global warming and habitat infringement."
– Kelli Hoover, Penn State University
"An unconventional and downright funny read. The authors warn that you might fall in love with these beetles; I also fell in love with this book."
– Matthew Shipman, research communications lead, North Carolina State University