Ninety-nine Gnats, Nits, and Nibblers

Author: May R. Berenbaum
Illustrated by John Parker Sherrod
All the buzz on ninety-nine of our creepiest, crawliest neighbors
Paper – $24
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/01/1989
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About the Book

In this classic of natural history, National Medal of Science winner May Berenbaum weaves a web of spellbinding portraits that acquaints readers with the multitudes sharing our world and, alas, our kitchen. Go small or go home as Berenbaum reveals:
  • Why the "Jesus bug" can walk on water
  • How the katydid’s nighttime noise inspired romantic poetry
  • The trapping prowess of the hungry antlion
  • That disgusting thing chiggers do to eat your skin

A witty and educational guide that’s as accessible as the container of flour you should have closed more tightly, Ninety-nine Gnats, Nits, and Nibblers is the fascinating story of our million closest neighbors.

About the Author

May R. Berenbaum is Swanlund Professor of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A winner of the National Medal of Science in 2014, Berenbaum is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Her books include Ninety-Nine More Maggots, Mites, and Munchers and Honey, I'm Homemade: Sweet Treats from the Beehive across the Centuries and around the World.

Also by this author

Ninety-nine More Maggots, Mites, and Munchers coverHoney, I'm Homemade cover


"A funny, scholarly, richly informative expose of the lives of many of the diminutive creatures that share our homes and gardens. Highly recommended."--Horticulture

"An excellent introduction to insects that should also go far in mitigating the entomophobia of many uninformed people."--Choice

"An illuminating book that may turn the disgust with which many people greet these fascinating creatures to curiosity and admiration."--Library Journal

"To young amateur or mature entomologist alike, I would have no hesitation in recommending this book."--Journal of Natural History

"Never has a buggy smorgasbord been so inviting--and such fun to pitch into."--Quarterly Review of Biology


"Informative, interesting, humorous, and sparkling--this is the book to read if you want to learn about the world's most interesting animals (and, if you hate insects, it's the book that will change your mind)."--Thomas Eisner, author of Secret Weapons: Defenses of Insects, Spiders, Scorpions, and Other Many-Legged Creatures

"Here is a new and different kind of armchair guide to the lives of some of the more common insects that people may encounter and some that they won't. In an easy-to-read style it opens a window on a part of the invertebrate world about which most of us know little, but should know more."--Bayard Webster

"The wit and humor that characterize Berenbaum's work detract not one whit from the clarity and scientific accuracy of the vignettes. A book to delight readers of all ages."--Walter S. Sheppard, Washington State University

"In a world preoccupied with megabucks and megabombs, it is good to know there are gnats, nits, and nibblers living out minuscule lives that can still divert and entertain us, if we will let them. May Berenbaum treats us to ninety-nine of these in a style that makes them easy to love--well, almost. It is the one hundredth, of course, that might have bitten us, if she had included it."--Howard E. Evans, author of The Pleasures of Entomology


Cited by LIBRARY JOURNAL as one of its "Best Sci-Tech Books" of 1989