Alien Worlds: How Insects Conquered the Earth, and Why Their Fate Will Determine Our Future (Hardcover)

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Alien Worlds: How Insects Conquered the Earth, and Why Their Fate Will Determine Our Future By Steve Nicholls Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

Nicholls makes learning about insects a joy. With insects representing one quarter of all animals, he justifiably calls them the most successful group of animals on planet earth. Here are some juicy nuggets from this delicious book: Over one million species have been identified, but Nicholls thinks 5 million is a more reasonable count. Very early evolution of bodily diversity coupled with extreme adaptability is what allowed insects to conquer nearly all ends of the planet. As many of us have guessed, insects do, indeed, have greater resistance to extinction than other animals. They obliterate the laws of aviation. Of their two options for successful offspring, laying massive numbers of eggs is the method used by 99% of insects; only about 1% invest time and energy helping offspring survive. Research supports the label of “superorganism” for selected ants and termites. Wow. Nicholls closes with a profound statement: “recent research points to the fact that insect brains possess enough complexity to generate a basic level of consciousness.” Consider that next time you grab a can of Raid.

— Kay Wosewick


A beautifully illustrated journey into the hidden realm of insects

Life on Earth depends on the busy activities of insects, but global populations of these teeming creatures are currently under threat, with grave consequences for us all. Alien Worlds presents insects and other arthropods as you have never seen them before, explaining how they conquered the planet and why there are so many of them, and shedding light on the evolutionary marvels that enabled them to thrive. Blending glorious imagery with entertaining and informative science writing, this book takes you inside the hidden realm of insects and reveals why their fate carries profound implications for our own.
  • Spectacular photos provide a rare, up-close look at the alien worlds of insects
  • Sheds light on the origins and wondrous diversity of insects
  • Discusses how insects first took to the air and colonised the far corners of our planet
  • Explores the extraordinary sensory world of insects
  • Explains the remarkable success of social insects, from termites and ants to bees and wasps

About the Author

Steve Nicholls is an Emmy Award-winning producer and director of acclaimed wildlife documentaries such as Appalachia: The Endless Forest. A Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, he is the author of Flowers of the Field: A Secret History of Meadow, Moor and Wood and Paradise Found: Nature in America at the Time of Discovery.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780691253589
ISBN-10: 0691253587
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication Date: August 1st, 2023
Pages: 496
Language: English