Hymenoptera: The Natural History and Diversity of Wasps, Bees and Ants

Firefly. Apr. 2023. 640p. ISBN 9780228103714. $95. REF
After writing massive texts on flies, insects, and beetles, entomologist Marshall (emeritus, University of Guelph, Ontario; Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity) tackles hymenopterans in his latest book. This order includes ants, bees, and sawflies—over 160,000 known species, which is just a fragment compared to all the unknown ones. The author acknowledges early that covering this topic is like listing all of a continent’s tourist spots in one travel book. Yet Marshall accomplishes his task by dividing the book into three parts. The first section is an overview of hymenopteran history, habits, and habitats. Most of the book is comprised of the second part—nearly 400 pages. Lengthy sentences and unknown words may deter some readers new to the genre, but this section expertly delves into diversity of the superfamilies. The last part of the book discusses the study of hymenopterans. Exquisite photographs fill the pages. There are also handy comparison guides to help aspiring entomologists distinguish between look-alikes. Readers will likely appreciate the anecdotes from the field, especially the encounters with venom. The book also describes how pollination relates to people’s lives.
VERDICT Purchase where this author’s wonderfully thorough books continue to thrive.
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