The Secret Lives of Backyard Bugs
Written by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards
Storey Publishing; $14.95 in paperback, $24.95 in hardcover
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For ages 8 and up
What it's about: Everything you always wanted to know (and even some things you didn't want to know) about bugs, insects, beetles and spiders is in this comprehensive yet approachable guide. The reader is informed that not all insects are bugs, contrary to popular belief, as they have differing body features. I am sure I will, mistakenly, call an insect "a bug" many more times in my life, as I scramble atop a very high stool and scream in irrational fear, but as I scream, I will know that there is, in fact, a difference between bugs and insects, and I am sure I will appreciate that knowledge. The guide goes on to point out the differences between complete and incomplete metamorphoses, moths and butterflies, bees and wasps, ants and termites, and dragonflies and damselflies. A helpful glossary and quick comparison guide ensure an easy reading experience. Wonderful photos show specimens in every stage of growth.
Why read it: Authors/photographers Judy Burris and Wayne Richards, who are sister and brother, bring their love of creepy crawlers to this colorful, glossy guide, chock-full of informative captions and incredible photographs. As in the siblings' first book, The Life Cycles of Butterflies, descriptions of butterflies and moths take up a large part of this guide. It is in this section that I found my niche, enthralled by the plump caterpillars and the playful prints on butterfly and moth wings. For example, my favorite, the giant leopard moth, wears a bristly black coat with red undertones while it is a caterpillar, but brandishes a bold black and white spotted print in the spring as a mature moth. This guide is definitely aimed at the bug lover age about 8 and up, but it can be enjoyed by all, even entomophobes like me.
-- Hadley Newton, Special to the Star-Telegram