Review :

You pour some milk on your breakfast cereal, and several squirming beetles float to the top. Most of us would recoil in horror, but Britsh entomologist Richard Jones' reaction was "Wow, I wonder what species these are". His survey of the creatures that have made their homes in human homes is scientifically rigorous but laced with humourous anecdotes such as this, and that is what makes it such a great read. He traces the co-habitaiton of animals, mainly insects, in human dwellings right from the caveman and early-agriculture eras. For all that we feel plagued by these visitors, only a tiny proportion of animals have actually adapted to living in human houses; some insects have done this so well and so thoroughtly that they're no longer found in the wild. He covers all animal visitors and settlers but as an entomologist focuses mainly on insects - and there some great insights. His quirky British humour makes this book an exception in the nature writing field, which features many good books, but they're usually quite serious in the way the extol the wonders of nature. "House Guests, House Pests" is funny as well as informative. One chapter is titiled "Eating us out of house and home" (covering pests that eat our stored foods) while the next chapter is titled "Eating the house and home" (about borers and termites). A sub-heading in the food pests chapter is titled "The greater and lesser of two weevils". After finishing the book, I had not only been informed but had been thoroughly entertained. The volume is also very well-designed, with no photos, just great drawings of the critters featured. A lasting insight is that most of the insect companions we share our houses with are active at night as they like the dark - something to think about when you flick that light off before going to sleep.

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