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Life on a Little Known Planet

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  116 ratings  ·  22 reviews
This classic book is natural history at its best. The world of insects is Howard Evans' "little-known planet," the realm of the cockroach and the cricket, the wasp and the bedbug. With the precision and authority of a distinguished biologist, and the wit and grace of an accomplished writer, Howard Evans muses on the uniqueness of dragonflies, the romantic impulses of butte ...more
Paperback, 330 pages
Published August 1st 1993 by Lyons Press (first published January 1st 1966)
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One of the classic books on biology. Had to read after seeing an exhibit on insects at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Author Evans was an entomologist and studied insects his entire life. If you love natural science than I recommend this book! Five stars.
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I absolutely adore this book. It's a beautiful introduction to the study of insects written for the general reader. At first I was thrown by the self-reflective and lyrical quality of his writing, but after a dozen or so pages I was hooked. It is such a refreshing experience to read a science book that isn't just sufficiently-written, but well-written. It is full of clever and sometimes hilarious allusions to literature and classical history that show a general level of education and appreciatio ...more
Kate Savage
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Just a delightful grump of a human writing about the exuberant oddities of the insect world. I especially loved his chapters on crickets and cockroaches. A great read for anyone who appreciates invertebrates.

HOWEVER, I recommend skipping or skimming the last two chapters. Instead of focusing on insects, he dives into the hard-hitting ecological questions like "Is Nature Necessary?" This book was originally written in the 60s, in the aftermath of Silent Spring. And Evans doesn't want to be lumped
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes books from one generation are unknown to the next, even within a fraternity, entomologists in this case, simply because they have not been republished - this is another of those cases where that crime has been committed!
Ai Wen
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
A great book about insects and their biology, beautifully written. Although, like some other reviews pointed out, the last two chapters kind of ruined my ranking of the book. The author went off to rent about Rachel Carson, shaming her for being "too emotional" when she wrote the Silent Spring. Maybe there was disagreement back then regarding the science of DDT and its environmental damage, but I don't think he has any right to blame another author as being too emotional on a topic that she clea ...more
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
I chose to read this book for a report in my Entomology class. I'm sure it would have been more interesting if I actually read the book, however, due to being in college and the overload of homework I was not able to fully read it. I think I read a total of 15 pages and was really bored. I wanted to read about the cool insects like butterflies and dragonflies but never made it that far. Maybe one day I will try to actually read it. ...more
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
305 pages

A Biologist's View of Insects and Their World

Insects! Amazing and fascinating!
Kat Robey
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Educational, thought provoking, witty...thoroughly enjoyable
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this treatise on the value of insects. After a chapter of introduction, each of the first ten chapters tells stories elucidating the life history, behavioral aspects, and/or scientific research about a different type of insect. The final two chapters address insects' rightful place in the world. Its publication year of 1966 makes this book no less enlightening today. ...more
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
A classic introduction to entomology with both natural history and discussion of famous and then recent laboratory work. The book’s chapters are each on a separate type of insect or bug including springtails, cockroaches, dragonflies, crickets, fireflies, butterflies, house flies, bedbugs, locusts, and the author’s specialty parasitic wasps. As the author reports, Louis Agassiz said, The possibilities of existence run so deeply into the extravagant that there is scarcely any conception too extra ...more
Lucas Miller
Jun 13, 2010 rated it liked it
My Audible review:

Some of the passages in this book are absolutely beautiful. Yes, it's dated with frequent references to the huge, 60's & 70's investment in the space program, but the intro alone makes a compelling case to appreciate and take greater interest in the ubiquitous insects. Some chapters were more intriguing than others and, yes, there's an environmental diatribe (which I happened to like) in the last 20% of the book or so but I found it a really lovely piece of nature writing. He g
Here's where I get really puzzled about how Goodreads works. I have this particular edition. There is a later edition, but I assume (perhaps not correctly, but I doubt it), that these edition are basically the same. If I write a review for this edition, probably no one will read it, as it is the only review and there are far more reviews of the later edition. The question this poses is an ethical one. Should I write my review for this edition, or fudge and write it for the later edition, as I su ...more
Mar 13, 2016 rated it liked it
I don't get it, what it is about this book that should make it "natural history at its best". Reading wikipedia is more entertaining, actually.
Never mind that it is outdated (that's understandable, given the first release date), but all the boring explanations of scientific methods used in obtaining one or another tiny bit of information could get even most motivated reader. And I'm not one of them. Life too short to read such tedious recountals, better go out and chase some butterflies.
I must
Sep 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: factual
Very much a book for the budding entomologist, but enjoyable reading. Harks back to the golden age of scientific discovery when all was new and we did not have to justify in the national interest why things were undertaken. Very much outdated scientifically now, but an excellent turn of phrase and a good insight into the mind of a scientist.
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best Non Fiction books ever written. This book so inspired me that I changed my Major and have been in love with insects ever since. Really cool version of it available to hear on Audible too.
Sharon Zink
It was well written with some humor. The author devoted one chapter to a species of insect. He didn't tell all about that insect, but zeroed in on one aspect of its life or ways that insect had been researched, which wasn't particularly interesting. ...more
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A well-written and humorous look at the many creatures that often avoid notice: the insects. A great read for the insect enthusiast.
May 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
i never thought learning about bugs could be so entertaining! amusing, well written.
So far the best insects-for-amateurs book I've read. ...more
Mar 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Interested amateurs
A collection of vignettes into the invertebrate world. Evans' writing is a balance of narrative accessibilty with hard science. Fascinating stuff. ...more
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
one of those books that should be read at school to broaden kids views. very interesting and with good arguments regarding the future of humanity.
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Born in East Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Archie and Adella (Ensign) Evans, he developed an interest in natural history, and insects in particular, as a child on his parents' tobacco farm. He attended the University of Connecticut, and obtained his Ph.D. from Cornell University. During World War II, he served as an army parasitologist, doing pioneering work on the Giardia parasite while stati ...more

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