The Handy Bug Answer Book

The Handy Bug Answer Book

by Dr. Gilbvert Waldbauer

Visible Ink

I love bugs. Allow me to refine that statement — I love most arthropods (I’m not particularly interested in crustaceans). I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of alien species, lifeforms so radically different they force a new perspective on evolution as a problem-solver; fortunately, we don’t have to leave the solar system (or the planet) to find a diverse sampling of new and interesting shapes and behaviors. The Handy Bug Answer Book provides plenty of textual information on the life, behavior and characteristics of insects, in an interesting question-and-answer format. There are some illustrations, and sixteen color plates, but for the most part this is a book for reading, not looking at. Dr. Waldbauer, Professor Emeritus of the University of Illinois Urbana-Chapmpaign’s Entomology Department has an easy-to-read style, and he certainly knows his bugs, as he provides the answers to close to a thousand burning questions on insect life.

Granted, a lot of the questions are leading: “Does any insect take in oxygen through its anus?” (Answer: Yes, dragonfly nymphs, which are aquatic). But for the most part, The Handy Bug Answer Book addresses several interesting issues that bug weirdoes like me have always pondered, like why dead insects are almost always found laying on their backs (their legs curl up and form an unstable base) or the details of how silk is made from silkworms (by unraveling their cocoons, made from a single strand that can be 3,600 feet long; the Chinese even have recipes for using the leftover pupa).

Not everyone is asking these questions, and certainly not everyone wants to know the answers, but The Handy Bug Answer Book is perfect for those intensely curious amateur entomologists. I should also recommend Alien Empire, Christopher O’Toole’s beautifully photographed textbook on insect diversity. It’s now out of print, but check your local megabookstore, as many still have copies.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

  • The Reading Room
    The Reading Room

    Today’s episode features author Anna-Marie O’Brien talking about her book Adventures of a Metalhead Librarian: A Rock N’ Roll Memoir with Ink 19’s Rose Petralia.

  • Bush Tetras
    Bush Tetras

    Rhythm and Paranoia (Wharf Cat). Review by Scott Adams.

  • Tom Tom Club
    Tom Tom Club

    The Good The Bad and the Funky (Nacional). Review by Julius C. Lacking.

  • Barnes & Barnes
    Barnes & Barnes

    Pancake Dream (Demented Punk Records). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

  • Jeremiah Lockwood
    Jeremiah Lockwood

    A Great Miracle: Jeremiah Lockwood’s Guitar Soli Chanukah Album (Reboot). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Metallica: The $24.95 Book
    Metallica: The $24.95 Book

    From an underground band that pioneered the thrash metal sound, to arguably the biggest rock act in the new millennium, Metallica has had a long and tumultuous history. Ben Apatoff scours a myriad of sources to catalog this history in his new book.

  • Araceli Lemos
    Araceli Lemos

    Shortly after AFI Fest 2021 wrapped, Generoso spoke at length with director, Araceli Lemos about her award-winning and potent feature debut, Holy Emy. Lemos’s film uses elements of body horror in her story about the exoticization of two Filipina sisters living in Greece and how that exploitation creates a distance between them.

  • Southern Accents 55
    Southern Accents 55

    A woofin’ good time with cuts from Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Delta Moon and more from KMRD 96.9, Madrid, New Mexico!

  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

    Absurdism with a healthy dose of air conditioning.

  • Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist
    Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist

    Like pre-teens throwing every liquid into the kitchen blender and daring each other to drink the results, Woody and Jeremy fuse all manner of sounds legitimate and profane into some murky concoction that tastes surprisingly good.

From the Archives