Nature Underfoot: Living with Beetles, Crabgrass, Fruit Flies, and Other Tiny Life Around Us (Hardcover)

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Nature Underfoot: Living with Beetles, Crabgrass, Fruit Flies, and Other Tiny Life Around Us Cover Image
By John Hainze, Angela Mele (Illustrator)
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Staff Reviews

OK, I will never vacuum a centipede again, I will stop roughing up ant hills on my property, and I will not pull every weed in sight. But if I ever get bed bugs, I'm sorry, but my respect for every living creature hits a line in the sand. The only other creature I can think of that resides on the other side of the line is mosquitoes, but only when landing on me. Enough about me. Hainze has written an lovely (really!) book about lives of many small creatures around us - their history, and our history interacting with them, especially with the pestier ones, which regrettably involves a continuously escalating war and many unintended consequences. John gives us both practical and ethical reasons why we should stop most, if not all, of these battles. Along the way you will learn fascinating tidbits you can drop into a lull in conversations, such as: whereas human evolution just got underway a mere 200,000 years ago, the silverfish has hardly changed since it emerged 300 MILLION years ago, securing itself as a nearly ideal land specimen soon after it crawled from the seas. We should be so perfected!! This is a delightfully told story that will hopefully challenge your attitudes and behaviors about the smaller creatures that share the earth with us.

— Kay Wosewick


An informed and heartfelt tribute to commonly unappreciated plants, insects, and other tiny creatures that reconsiders humanity’s relationship to nature

"Put aside that can of Raid for the short time it takes to read this book."—Natural History

Named a Favorite Book of 2020 by The Progressive

Fruit flies, silverfish, dandelions, and crabgrass are the bane of many people and the target of numerous chemical and physical eradication efforts. In this compelling reassessment of the relationship between humans and the natural world, John Hainze—an entomologist and former pesticide developer—considers the fascinating and bizarre history of how these so-called invasive or unwanted pests and weeds have coevolved with humanity and highlights the benefits of a greater respect and moral consideration toward these organisms.
With deep insight into the lives of the underappreciated and often reviled creatures that surround us, Hainze’s accessible and engaging natural history draws on ethics, religion, and philosophy as he passionately argues that creepy crawlies and unwanted plants deserve both empathy and accommodation as partners dwelling with us on earth.

About the Author

John Hainze is an entomologist and ethicist. He is an affiliate at the Seattle University Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability, an adjunct faculty member at Seattle University, and president of BioOpus LLC.

Praise For…

"Put aside that can of Raid for the short time it takes to read this book."—Natural History

“In a world where insects are in horrible decline, this fascinating call for understanding and affection for the small creatures around us is a powerfully necessary book!”—Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

“A friendly, accessible, and thoughtful exploration of the nearly innumerable diverse life forms that have adapted to live in close proximity to humans.”—Nicole Palffy-Muhoray, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

“John Hainze brings us into the captivating yet-overlooked world of household creatures, skillfully weaving together a series of fascinating encounters with these familiar and yet unknown subjects.”—James Barilla, author of My Backyard Jungle: The Adventures of an Urban Wildlife Lover Who turned His Yard into a Habitat and Learned to Live with It

“This is a fascinating book - one that will engage you with stories and charm you with drawings. Insects have never been more intriguing than under the watchful eye of John Hainze. He is an entomologist with a conscience. Our insect world deserves his plea for appreciation and care."—Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology and coauthor of Journey of the Universe

"Nature Underfoot illuminates the overlooked wonders of ignored plants, creatures, and other forms of life we encounter daily -- and their implications for our place in nature. A stunning book as riveting as a sunbeam to a young child."—Thomas E. Lovejoy, University Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University

Product Details
ISBN: 9780300242782
ISBN-10: 0300242786
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: February 18th, 2020
Pages: 272
Language: English