Endless Forms: Why We Should Love Wasps


Endless Forms: Why We Should Love Wasps Author: Format: Hardback First Published: Published By: HarperCollins Publishers
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Pages: 384 Language: English ISBN: 9780008394479 Categories: , , , , Tag:

Welcome to the mysterious world of the wasp. For fans of Other Minds and Entangled Life, The Gospel of Eels, this book introduces an insect that is 100 million years older, much cleverer and ten times more diverse than bees – and just as essential for the survival of the environment.

The book reveals in intricate, eye-opening detail how much we depend upon wasps: from their incredible diversity – their endless forms – to their complex social lives and how they hold our fragile ecosystem in balance.

Wasps demonstrate social behaviour and cognitive abilities that far outstrip other insects; and they are the root of the tree on which bees and ants are mere branches. Their social behaviour is the best model we have for the planet’s major evolutionary transitions, and their colony structures have taught us how altruism was invented in the natural world.

There are wasps that spend their entire lives sealed inside a species of fig; wasps that turn cockroaches into living zombies; and wasps that live within other wasps. There are stinging wasps, paper wasps, parasitic wasps, ground wasps, hornets; and wasps that build citadels that put our own societies to shame, marked by division of labour, rebellions and policing, monarchies, leadership contests, undertakers, police, negotiators, and social parasites.

These insects are fundamental to the planet’s ecological balance, both as predators and pollinators. Wasps are nature’s pest controllers and they keep the planet’s ecological balance in check. A world without wasps would be just as ecologically devastating as losing the bees, or beetles, or butterflies. And their forms, as you’ll discover from this book, are indeed almost endless: nearly every ecological niche on land is inhabited by a wasp. There’s a sense in which the Earth belongs to them; everything else is surface detail.

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'A book I never knew I needed that is an absolute delight to read ... Face your fears and dive into this captivating excursion into the lives of this most maligned insect ... Finally, a cure for our irrational fear of this unfairly demonised insect ... A book that draws us in to the strange beauty of what we so often run away from' Robin Ince 'If you've ever wondered "why do wasps exist?" you must read this book. There is so much more to them than you ever imagined. A funny and beautifully written welcome to the enigmatic, weird and wonderful world of wasps. Wasps are seriously cool' Dave Goulson, author of A Sting in the Tale and Silent Earth 'At last, the ultimate answer to the age-old question - what's the point of a wasp? I thought I knew about wasps - I was wrong. Endless Forms is a tremendously good read that left me buzzing with excitement and reminded me why I became an entomologist' George McGavin 'Sometimes the most perfect books are those that shine a light on surprising, neglected subjects. Endless Forms is just such a book. Seirian Summer writes lucidly and entertainingly about this most fascinating of creatures. You'll never ask "what's the point of wasps?" again' Will Storr, author of The Science of Storytelling 'You also shouldn't miss Endless Forms ... which explains why you shouldn't, on any account, go squashing these remarkable creatures to a pulp ... [A] marvellous, revelatory natural history' Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller, Editor's Choice 'Celebrated British entomologist and modern-day wasp whisperer Seirian Sumner invites readers on a revelatory, as well as highly entertaining, journey to discover the beauty, vast diversity and critical functions of the "most enigmatic of insects"' Shelf Awareness

Author Biography

Professor Seirian Sumner is a Professor of Behavioural Ecology at University College London, where she studies the ecology and evolution of social insects. She has published over 70 papers in scientific journals, and has received numerous awards for her work, including a L'Oreal for Women in Science Award, a Points of Light Award from the UK Prime Minister, and a Silver Medal from the Zoological Society of London. She is a Fellow and Trustee of the Royal Entomological Society and co-founder of the citizen science initiative Big Wasp Survey. Endless Forms is her debut work of non-fiction for a general audience. She lives in Oxfordshire, England with her husband and three children.

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