Backlist Bop: May Berenbaum on what’s the buzz

It’s spring, and the insects have returned in force. Though, unless you live in Antarctica, it’s doubtful you go a day without seeing an arthropod even in winter. These creatures are everywhere and have been for tens of millions of years. Here’s an irony: without arthropods, nature would go awry. Yet whenever nature goes awry, the result always seems to be giant moths, enormous atomic ants, or venomous super-spiders that do not fear John Goodman.

As a workplace annually infested with stink beetles that impersonate ladybugs, the University of Illinois Press knows many creatures great but small. And National Medal of Science-winning entomologist May R. Berenbaum, along with illustrator John Parker Sherrod, helps us respect them. Albeit from a distance. Ideally.

berenbaumNinety-nine Gnats, Nits, and Nibblers

In this classic of natural history, 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 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.

berenbaum moreNinety-nine More Maggots, Mites, and Munchers

What lives in a reindeer’s nose? Glad you asked. In this sequel to Ninety-nine Gnats, Nits, and Nibblers, Berenbaum offers another classic compendium of creepy-crawly cameos. Read up on our myriad arthropodan indignities and allies as Berenbaum reveals:

  • Why the rove beetle gives mind-altering drugs to ants
  • How the snail-killing fly enjoys its escargot
  • Why Piophila casei doesn’t care when you eat its larvae
  • What strange fate awaits a honey ant worker engorged with nectar

As lively as a fly in the buttermilk, Ninety-nine More Maggots, Mites, and Munchers is a who’s who and what’s THAT? guide to Lilliputian life-forms both familiar and obscure.