Cover image for Firefly encyclopedia of insects and spiders
Firefly encyclopedia of insects and spiders
O'Toole, Christopher.
Publication Information:
Toronto ; Buffalo, N.Y. : Firefly Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
240 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 30 cm
General Note:
"A Firefly Book"--T.p. verso.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL462.3 .F57 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
QL462.3 .F57 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize
QL462.3 .F57 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

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Combining authoritative, easy-to-read essays with accurate illustrations and full color photographs, this encyclopedia covers all of the families that encompass the million-plus species of insects and spiders. A unique and thoroughly current volume, it includes:

Specially commissioned articles written by a team of scientists, zoologists and expert researchers Insightful and up-to-date information on insect and spider biology and behavior The latest scientific findings and interpretations Features that explore and discuss in depth topics that are of particular interest and importance, for example, Beetles as Agents of Biological Control

In addition to a comprehensive text, each species entry also has a Factfile for quick retrieval of essential data:

Scientific Order and Population Distribution and Habitat Size, Color and Features Reproduction, Life Cycle and Longevity Conservation Status

Scientists, zoologists and expert researchers have contributed specially commissioned articles. These specialists, all experts in their fields, are actively involved in conducting frontline scientific or behavioral research. The inclusion of their latest findings and interpretations sets this title apart.

Author Notes

Christopher O'Toole works in the Hope Entomological Collections of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History where he runs the Bee Systematics and Biology Unit. His research has taken him to the deserts of the Middle East and North America and the savannahs of South America and Africa. He has collaborated on natural history films about insects, most recently the six-part BBC TV series Alien Empire , for which he wrote the accompanying book, and has written 14 additional books on insect behavior and natural history, including Bees of the World (with Anthony Raw) and Bumblebees .

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

With lush color photographs and lavishly detailed illustrations, these encyclopedias present a striking abundance of information at a glance. Also noteworthy is the scholarly text, a comprehensive overview of these frequently studied--and uniquely different--phyla. The format of both volumes is similar. A major article introduces the main classes: amphibians, reptiles, and arthropods (insects and arachnids). Articles pertaining to specific species follow. For example, 23 species of the class Insecta--with a separate article for millipedes and centipedes, members of the superclass Myriapoda--are featured. Entries vary in length, depending upon the complexity of the species. Information on Stoneflies is covered in two pages, while Crickets and grasshoppers requires twelve pages of text. All articles--penned by authorities in the field of biological study--provide current scientific information and research findings relating to physiology and to behavior. Several valuable features are standard in each article. Most significant are the "Factfiles," which provide a quick summary of valuable statistics, including the order, class, physical features, life cycles, population, habitat, color, reproduction habits, and longevity of the species. Conservation status, a key consideration for many researchers, is also noted, using IUCN (World Conservation Union) categories as a descriptor. Boxed "Special Feature" (for example, "Fly-Borne Diseases" and "Decoding the Frog Chorus") and "Photo Story" (such as "Building Nests of Mud and Paper" and "Harvesting Snake Venom") articles supplement the erudite text with fascinating sidelights concerning behavior, morphology, and economic and medical importance, among other topics. Although glossaries of biological terms are included, sidebars defining these terms on the pages on which they appear might have been a better placement because most students will not turn to the ends of the volumes. A bibliography of sources and an index complete each book. One thinks short and concise when perusing an encyclopedia. Such is not the case with these resources, which are strongly recommended for high-school, public, and academic libraries. For students in grades four through eight, Marshall Cavendish's multivolume Insects and Spiders [RBB F 1 03] and Reptiles and Amphibians [RBB F 15 03] offer less scholarly but equally attractive coverage.

Library Journal Review

The editors (and numerous contributing scientists) have revised, updated, extended, and improved upon these two titles, first published in 1986. Each volume is organized taxonomically. Overviews of upper-level divisions (insects, arachnids, amphibians, and reptiles) broadly describe anatomy, physiology, life cycle, behavior, and conservation status. Succeeding articles provide further details on narrower taxonomic groups (such as beetles or snakes) and individual species. The text has been attractively reformatted, enhancing readability, and the number of supplementary essays has increased (totaling nine in Insects and 23 in Reptiles). These essays cover subjects ranging from the color and patterning of butterfly wings to declining amphibian populations, reptilian play behavior, and the use of beetles as biological control agents. Most pages include gorgeous photographs or drawings, and new two-page captioned "photo stories" (four in Insects, three in Reptiles) highlight selected topics, including wasp nest construction and tadpole development. Glossaries are also included. Unfortunately, the referencing in both volumes features a number of omissions. For example, See references from "daddy longlegs" to "harvestmen" and from "cayman" to "caiman" are lacking, as are entries for at least one organism mentioned in each book. In Insects, "woolly bear" refers to a destructive carpet beetle larva (British usage) rather than a fuzzy banded caterpillar. Despite these small flaws, Insects is more attractive and better indexed than George McGavin's complementary Essential Entomology: An Order-by-Order Introduction (Oxford Univ., 2001), making it a good choice for public libraries. Larger collections should also consider Academic Press's more expansive Encyclopedia of Insects, due in February 2003. Reptiles is rivaled by only the out-of-print Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians, 2d ed. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Nancy R. Curtis, Univ. of Maine Lib., Orono (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Biologists discover new species and new information about insects every year, but the majority of insects remain undescribed and only rough estimates exist as to the total number of species in the world. It is likely that thousands go into extinction each year without being so much as described. This work, a revision and expansion of O'Toole's Encyclopedia of Insects (1986), treats all the major taxonomic groups of arthropods except for the marine groups. The 28 orders of insects are all given separate treatment, as well as millipedes, centipedes, and arachnids. The work focuses in fascinating detail on behavior, morphology, ecology, life cycles, and economic or medical importance. Strikingly beautiful photographs of arthropods around the world supplement drawings that illustrate specific features. Separate essays discuss topics such as flight, pheromones and mating, mimicry, and social life. The work is scholarly yet colorful and constitutes a good survey, although it would be impossible to treat all the millions of arthropod species. There is no rival encyclopedia. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. T. McKimmie New Mexico State University



Preface Of the million or so animal species that have so far been described, about 85 percent are insects; there are estimated to be 200 million of them for every living person. To put it another way, there are some 10,000 million insects living in each square kilometer of habitable land on Earth or 26,000 million per square mile. Insects also predominate overwhelmingly among the terrestrial arthropods that are the subject of this book. What is more, the land-dwelling, jointed-limbed animals without backbones also include the millipedes and centipedes, and the spiders, scorpions, ticks and mites; for example, in rural southern England there may be as many as 5 million spiders per hectare (12.5 million per acre). These figures are for known species only: recent surveys in tropical forests suggest that there may be as many as 25 to 30 million species of arthropod in the world, most of which remain undescribed! Until recently, most studies of arthropods were primarily or entirely descriptive -- and rightly so in the face of such bewildering diversity. In the last 50 years, however, the relatively new disciplines of population and behavioral ecology have embraced the arthropods and revealed them in a new light. Population ecology has shown just how important the relationships between arthropods and other living things are. Behavioral ecology shows that many arthropods have behavior normally only associated with birds and mammals. Arthropods, and especially the insects, are, in fact, a vital part of the survival kit of Planet Earth, having a commanding presence in the dynamic processes that maintain our ecosystems. They dispose of dead vegetation, animal corpses, and dung, and are the major herbivores, processing and returning vast amounts of nutrients to the soil. As pollinators of flowers, they are vital links in the cycle of plant generations. Yet ticks, fleas, and a variety of flies exert a negative influence on human ecology, through the diseases they transmit to humans and their livestock, while many mites and insects devastate crops and trees. There is now a growing awareness that our survival as a species may well depend on a greater understanding of the diversity of living things and their conservation. The greatest urgency lies with the wet forests of the tropics, home of half of all plant and animal species. It is a humbling thought that our primate ancestors inherited a range of habitats largely shaped and maintained by the interactions of arthropods with plants and other animals. In a real sense we began our road to humanity by exploiting opportunities provided by courtesy of the arthropods. It is even more humbling to ponder the thought that this planet can survive without man but not, in its present form, without the arthropods. Underlining the never-ending work of insect taxonomists is the very recent discovery of a new order of insects, the Mantophasmatodea, too recent, indeed, to be dealt with comprehensively in this volume. Comprising two known genera, Raptophasma from fossil material in Baltic amber and Mantophasma from tropical Africa, members of this order are wingless carnivores, and the modem species live in dense grass tussocks. Their evolutionary relationships are still a matter for conjecture but their anatomy suggests some affinities with either the Grylloblattodea (rock crawlers, ice crawlers) or Phasmatodea (stick insects). DNA studies may reveal molecular evidence which might help resolve the issue. The Arthropod Success Story The arthropod body plan comprises an external skeleton made of a remarkable horny substance called chitin, which has a high strength-to-weight ratio and is flexible and waterproof. The body plan has evolved independently at least four times. Modern systems of classification, therefore, no longer treat arthropods as a single group, "Arthropoda;" instead, they tend to divide them into different phyla with distinct origins. There are the terrestrial insects, myriapods, and their relatives (phylum Uniramia); the mainly terrestrial Chelicerata (spiders and relatives, and horseshoe crabs); and the chiefly marine crustaceans (crabs, shrimps, lobsters, and woodlice - phylum Crustacea). Smaller phyla include the terrestrial velvet worms (Onychophora), and the aquatic tongue worms (Pentastomida) and water bears (Tardigrada). Marine arthropods are not covered here. "Arthropodization" has enabled these animals to invade a wide range of habitats. Some of their adaptations are bizarre, ranging, in insects, from flies whose larvae live in hot springs or crude oil to a Malaysian moth that sucks the blood of animals; there are even fly larvae that live as internal parasites of barnacles. The list is endless, and ultra-specialization is a recurrent theme. On the other hand there are generalists too. Consider the physiological virtuosity of larvae of the little scuttlefly Megaselia scalaris , which, to date, have been reared from shoe polish, emulsion paint, human cadavers pickled in formalin, and the lungs of living people. If this volume has any linking theme, it is the arthropod success story. Our survey brings together a wealth of new information, hitherto burled in specialist journals and texts. An opening account of what it is to be an arthropod is followed by descriptions of all the major taxonomic groups, starting with the two superclasses of the phylum Uniramia, the myriapods (millipedes and centipedes) and the hexapods (mainly insects). Within the insects, each of the 28 different orders is treated separately, with a summary panel of salient facts, accompanied by a wider-ranging text outlining the major aspects of the group's natural history. An introduction to that other main group of terrestrial arthropods, the arachnids (class Arachnida of the phylum Chelicerata) is followed by sections on the mites and ticks, the spiders, and the scorpions and remaining subclasses. Throughout the book, boxed features, special feature spreads, and photo stories focus on topics of particular interest in behavior, morphology, ecology, or economic or medical importance. The illustrations in this encyclopedia do more than record the stunning variety of color, form, and lifestyle in terrestrial arthropods. The photographs, almost all by Premaphotos Wildlife, were taken in the wild, in locations all over the world. Here are revealed, in the subjects' natural habitat, details of arthropod life cycles and behavior, from the egg through larval stages and molting to adulthood, courtship, mating, feeding, and defense, flight, and death. Captions expand the scope of the text and identify species by family as well as by scientific name (if not given in the accompanying text or summary panel), and any common name. An important role is played by the artwork. Richard Lewington's color panels show the diversity and typical behavior of representatives of the major groups. The line drawings illustrate aspects of form and behavior covered in the text. The drawings in the Factfile panels are of species chosen to give some idea of the general appearance of many, if not all, members of the group in question. It is a pleasure to acknowledge the labors of an enthusiastic team of authors, all experts in their chosen fields. My thanks are also due to the dedicated publishing team at Andromeda Oxford Ltd., led by Dr Graham Bateman, Dr Peter Lewis and Chris Munday. I hope that together we have produced a volume that does justice to the swarming hordes of arthropods, which live out their intricate lives largely unseen and often unjustly reviled. Christopher O'Toole Hope Entomological Collections University Museum, Oxford Excerpted from Firefly Encyclopedia of Insects and Spiders All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

What is an Arthropod
Millipedes and Centipedes
Power of Flight
Mimicry: Defense through Pretense
Dragonflies and Damselflies
Crickets and Grasshoppers
Solitary or Gregarious?
Cricket and Grasshoppers
Leaf and Stick Insects
Booklice and Webspinners
Zorapterans and Thrips
Parasitic Lice
Growing up in a Harlequin Bug Nursery
Snakeflies and Alderflies
Targeted Invaders
Fly-borne Diseases
Butterflies and Moths
Butterflies and Moths Superfamilies
Predators Beware!
A Kaleidoscope of Colors
Wasps, Ants, and Bees
Hymenoptera Superfamilies
The Bees' Vital Gift to Humankind
Building Nests of Mud and Paper
Silken Webs
Mites and Ticks
Mites: Up Close and Personal
Scorpions and Other Arachnids
Picture and artwork credits