“ Author: Anthony Wootton / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 25 February 2006 / Genre: Nature / Subcategory: Non-Fiction / Category: Nature, The Natural World / Category: Nature, The Natural World General / Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd / Title: Bugs and Insects / ISBN 13: 9780746073575 / ISBN 10: 0746073575 „
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The title to this review may sound quite silly, but this is exactly what this book advises if you should happen to come across the Colorado Beetle which was accidentally imported from the USA and can do extensive damage to potato crops. We have found this bug in other books as well with instructions to alert the authorities if found. The bug is now the absolute top of the list of bugs my boys are searching for simply for the fun of reporting an insect to the local police.
Beyond this though, this is a useful, if very basic identification guide for insects. The book includes information on insects not only in Britain and Ireland, but in all of Western Europe. Unfortunately, this means many common insects in Britain may not be included and many of the insects which are listed for identification will never be found here. Of course the book tells us we can always find them on our next holiday. A shame then that holidays on the continent are not an option for my family. I would also note that the title really should be just "Usborne Spotter's Guides- Insects". By including the word bug in the title I was hoping they using lay terms and covering mini-beasts other than insects, such as worms and spiders. This is not the case. The bug section refers to the true bugs, but all of these are of course also insects.
This book has a few pages of very general information about insects before beginning the identification pages with the butterflies. Each species is listed under the common name and has a very good, well detailed painting of the insect to allow for easy identification. There is also a very section with facts on the insect, usually only two sentences. In some cases male and female will be shown, and possibly a larval form as well. The moths all had excellent pictures of caterpillars beside them, but sadly there were no illustrations of butterfly larva. There is a small circle with each species which you can tick or write a date in if you spot that particular insect.
We were quite happy with this book when it arrived. The illustrations are lovely and the descriptions well suited to a young child. There is a helpful glossary in the back if needed, and my sons absolutely loved the clause about calling the police should they spot the Colorado Beetle. I found the book well written, well illustrated and both informative and educational.
The problem came when we started trying to identify insects the children brought in. All to often, there was no listing for whatever they had found. We ended up buying two more books which were much better suited to our purposes : Nick Baker's Bug Book and Collins Complete British Insects. This book has, unfortunately been left on the shelf since the arrival of the more advanced books. This has a total of 160 insects including a fair number not found in the UK. There are over 20,000 species of insect in Britain, so obviously most will be left out even in a much larger book.
This isn't a bad book. If you are looking for something cheap and basic, to allow your child to identify a few simple insects, this might be suitable. They are certain to find many creatures which are not in the book, but they will also find a fair number that are and the small size makes this ideal for carrying in a rucksack with bug hunting gear.. The price is also fair, with Amazon selling new copies at £3.74 and used copies at £2.50 at the time this review was written.
However, for our purposes, this simply was not good enough. I would have preferred a small handbook with only the most common insects from the UK and Ireland, thus listing insects we are more likely to find. I would have also liked a small map or key to tell us the distribution of each insect. I also would have liked something that included other invertebrates, as children out hunting for insects are quite likely to find things like snails, spiders and worms as well. However, the publishers never claimed to do any of these things. Therefore, I will not rate to harshly.