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Posted by: atowhee | February 20, 2018

BOOKS, BUGS AND THE BEAUTIFUL

Three new titles worth of consideration.  If you are a serious gardener, and you don’t want to simply cover every surfaced with toxic chemicals, here’s a book that helps you know your enemy:
Garden Insects of North America. Second Edition.
By Whitney Cranshaw and David Shetlar.  704 pages!   3300 color photos!!   $35.PRINCBK3
Not just the insects but also their eggs, their larvae, the damage they do and what it looks like.  Here is what a typical page looks like:GRDN BUGSSo this book is more than a source of identification.  It helps with diagnosis and treatment.  Clearly it is often necessary to look on the under-side of the leaf…

Monarchs and Milkweed.
Bu Anurag Agrawal.  283 pages, over 70 illustrations.PRINCBK2
This  book describes the close connection between monarchs and milkweeds, which are poisonous to people and some other animals.  The plant and the butterfly have been engaged in eons of evolutionary struggle, one to resist and the other to overcome that resistance.  Now even the monarch itself can be toxic to some predators…if the milkweed only knew how it was actually helping the monarch.  Thus does coevolution continue.  Now it has has been disrupted by people and their pesticides.
Agrawal is optimistic about the monarchs’ future, pointing out they have expanded their worldwide range just as humans have carelessly scattered milkweed seeds expanding the range of those plants.  Wherever milkweed spreads, thither goes the monarch.  Some populations are migratory, others sedentary; whatever survival demands.

A Taste for the Beautiful. The evolution of attraction.
By Michael J, Ryan.  208 pages.  24 illustrations.PRINCE BK1
“The details of an animal’s brain give rise to its sexual aesthetics, which, in turn, drive the evolution of beauty in that species.  Specifically, I argue that beauty only exists because it pleases the eyes, ears, or noses of the beholder; more generally, that beauty is in the brain of the beholder.”
There is Ryan’s central argument.  His book expands, explains, gives numerous examples and samples.  He also tells how predators and parasites often use one species’ mating rituals or appearance to that species’ detriment.  The courtship activities explored include fireflies, guppies and birds.  With birds and crickets and frogs, naturally, a song is not JUST a song.  Fun and enlightening to read.

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