From sea squirts to slugs to swallowtails, the third, fabulous and gorgeously illustrated book in Richard Mabey’s series, a companion volume to the bestselling classics Flora Britannica and Birds Britannica.
As with Flora and Birds, Bugs is not a biological guide but a richly-illustrated cultural one, seen through the eyes of writers, musicians, artists and naturalists – from the great Tudor naturalist, Thomas Muffet (father of Little Miss Muffet) to Irvine Welsh’s talking tapeworm in Filth – as well as contributions by ordinary men and women who are fascinated by creepy-crawlies of all kinds.
The book is structured along a roughly evolving path, from simple cell life-forms – amoeba, worms, crustaceans (proof, say the authors, of ‘just how far you can go on very little’) – to bugs we all might recognise – spiders, butterflies, bees – and back into the water to meet molluscs and ‘almost-fish’… The book works so triumphantly because author Peter Marren has examined bugs in the dusty corners of our houses and gardens as well as traversing mountains, lakes and fields. In addition to the fascinating habits of the bug world, he also includes the eccentric behaviour of the bug obsessives themselves.
But of course, the true heroes of the book are the bugs themselves: the nimble-dicks, clock ladies and coffin-cutters. From the Boring Sponge (its official name!) to the Mermaid’s Glove and Penis Worm, via the glamourous Dark Crimson Underwing and Ruby-Tailed Wasp – this rich compendium of bugs is a must not only for naturalists but for anyone who cares about the crawling, buzzing swarms at our feet.