A stunningly original exploration of the ties that bind us to the beautiful, ancient, astoundingly accomplished, largely unknown, and unfathomably different species with whom we share the world.
For as long as humans have existed, insects have been our constant companions. Yet we hardly know them, not even the ones we’re closest to: those that eat our food, share our beds, and live in our homes. Organizing his book alphabetically, Hugh Raffles weaves together brief vignettes, meditations, and extended essays, taking the reader on a mesmerizing exploration of history and science, anthropology and travel, economics, philosophy, and popular culture. Insectopedia shows us how insects have triggered our obsessions, stirred our passions, and beguiled our imaginations.
Raffles offers us a glimpse into the high-stakes world of Chinese cricket fighting, the deceptive courtship rites of the dance fly, the intriguing possibilities of queer insect sex, the vital and vicious role locusts play in the famines of west Africa, how beetles deformed by Chernobyl inspired art, and how our desire and disgust for insects has prompted our own aberrant behavior. Deftly fusing the literary and the scientific, Hugh Raffles has given us an essential book of reference that is also a fascination of the highest order.
“A revelation of the world of our fellow creatures . . . by a writer whose style is equal to his huge and strange task.”-Buffalo News (Editor’s Choice)
“Unusual and most engaging.”-The Seattle Times
“Provocative. . . . Insectopedia opens up a can of worms and it’s doubtful they can be herded back in.”-Santa Cruz Sentinel