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March 3, 2022

The Insect Crisis by Oliver Milman ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

I love science, particularly biology and ecology. So I'm always looking for new books and I almost missed this one. Like many of you when I think about insects, I think of the pests that chase me inside (or reaching for the bug spray) on warm summer evenings or the creepy crawlies that interrupt picnics. In my professional life, insects are usually discussed in terms of vectors for diseases. And with my homestead group, we focus on pollinators - particularly the honeybee. All these, and more, are discussed in Oliver Milman's new book The Insect Crisis: The Fall of the Tiny Empires That Run the World (I love that tag line!)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free audiobook was provided for an honest review.

The Insect Crisis
March 2022; HighBridge; 9781696607445
audio (8h 9m), ebook, print; nonfiction

Oliver Milman is a journalist who covers the environment for The Guardian. So while the book covers a lot of science you don't have to have a science degree to understand it. Milman does a great job making the topic easily accessible to the general public. 

I was lucky to snag the audiobook from Netgalley and I have to say Liam Gerrard is perfect as the narrator. I grew up watching nature shows with David Attenborough. And while Gerrard doesn't sound like Attenborough, he does seem to have a voice made for describing the natural world around us. 

I thought this book was well balanced. It's easy to jump to the "all bugs are bad" conclusion, but Milman points out the many benefits that we derive from insects, without glossing over the more pesky insects. Even mosquitoes, those horrible harbingers of disease, are not all bad. While I knew only a few species actually carry disease, I didn't know there were actually some beneficial species of mosquito.

The Insect Crisis is more of an environmental book than an entomology book. So there is a good deal of focus on conservation. Climate change, agriculture practices, and industrialization are all discussed in terms of how they impact insect biodiversity. He even discusses how good intentions have had some unintended consequences, such as people wanting to save monarch butterflies by planting milkweed. Unfortunately, many people mistakenly planted an exotic variety instead of the native species of milkweed. The exotic variety can actually weaken monarch butterflies. 

Insects are an important, but often overlooked, element of ecological biodiversity. If your first reaction to the buzzing, flying, creeping crawlies is to reach for the fly swatter, bug spray, and pesticides, then you need to read this book to get a new perspective, and dare I say fondness, for this largest group of animals.

Buy The Insect Crisis at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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