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The Royal Entomological Society Book of British Insects



The Royal Entomological Society Book of British Insects

Peter C. Barnard

ISBN: 978-1-444-34496-7 September 2011 Wiley-Blackwell 600 Pages


The Royal Entomological Society (RES) and Wiley-Blackwell are proud to present this landmark publication, celebrating the wonderful diversity of the insects of the British Isles, and the work of the RES (founded 1833).

This book is the only modern systematic account of all 558 families of British insects, covering not just the large and familiar groups that are included in popular books, but even the smallest and least known.  It is beautifully illustrated throughout in full colour with photographs by experienced wildlife photographers to show the range of diversity, both morphological and behavioural, among the 24,000 species.

All of the 6,000 genera of British insects are listed and indexed, along with all the family names and higher groups. There is a summary of the classification, biology and economic importance of each family together with further references for detailed identification. All species currently subject to legal protection in the United Kingdom are also listed.

The Royal Entomological Society is one of the oldest and most prestigious of its kind in the world. It is the leading organisation for professional entomologists and its main aim has always been the promotion of knowledge about insects. The RES began its famous Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects in 1949, and new works in that series continue to be published. The Royal Entomological Society Book of British Insects has been produced to demonstrate the on-going commitment of the RES to educate and encourage each generation to study these fascinating creatures.

This is a key reference work for serious students of entomology and amateur entomologists, as well as for professionals who need a comprehensive source of information about the insect groups of the British Isles they may be less familiar with.

Preface vii

Foreword by Quentin D. Wheeler ix

Acknowledgements xi

1 General introduction 1


2 Order Collembola: the springtails 19

3 Order Diplura: the two-tailed or two-pronged bristletails 25

4 Order Protura: the proturans 27


5 Order Archaeognatha or Microcoryphia: the bristletails 31

6 Order Zygentoma: the silverfi sh and fi rebrats 33


7 Order Ephemeroptera: the mayflies or upwing flies 37

8 Order Odonata: the dragonflies and damselflies 42


9 Order Dermaptera: the earwigs 51

10 Order Dictyoptera: the cockroaches, termites and mantids 54

11 Order Orthoptera: the grasshoppers, crickets and bush-crickets 57

12 Order Phasmida: the stick-insects 64

13 Order Plecoptera: the stoneflies 67


14 Order Hemiptera: the true bugs 73

15 Order Phthiraptera: the sucking and biting lice 106

16 Order Psocoptera: the booklice and barklice 112

17 Order Thysanoptera: the thrips 118


18 Order Coleoptera: the beetles 125

19 Order Diptera: the true flies 177

20 Order Hymenoptera: the ants, bees and wasps 226

21 Order Lepidoptera: the butterflies and moths 268

22 Order Mecoptera: the scorpionflies 308

23 Order Megaloptera: the alderflies 311

24 Order Neuroptera: the lacewings 313

25 Order Raphidioptera: the snakeflies 317

26 Order Siphonaptera: the fleas 319

27 Order Strepsiptera: the stylops 323

28 Order Trichoptera: the caddisflies or sedge flies 326

Index to taxa 337

“A remarkable book, and at a remarkable price . . . It should be available in all field centres and field stations where ecological studies and teaching take place. Further, for the general naturalist, it will be an eye-opener to the diversity of insects even within the British Isles and something they will wish to have to hand on their shelves. It can be unreservedly recommended.”  (Biodiversity and Conservation, 1 October 2012)

“Anyone who wants to know more about British insects will need this major reference, as it refers to all the latest literature and includes websites of note at the end of many orders. This really is an excellent tome, either as a coffee table book or as an up-to-date reference book that does not cost the earth.”  (Reference Reviews, 1 December 2012)

“However, this is a very minor point and it is a magnifi cent work which, if nothing else, shows where the gaps in our knowledge are and, hopefully, will encourage future entomologists to fi ll them. The author is to be congratulated!.”  (British Ecological Society Bulletin, 1 March 2012)

“Recommended.  Only comprehensive entomology collections serving general readers and undergraduate students.” (Choice, 1 March 2012)

“Celebrating the work of the Royal Entomological Society (RES) founded in 1833, and the wonderful diversity of the insects of the British Isles, this book is a key reference work for students and amateur entomologists, as well as a comprehensive information source for professionals.”  (Wildlife, 2012)

"British Insects is destined to become the standard reference and the starting point for any investigation of the British insect fauna. It will be an essential addition to the libraries of Universities, research centres, natural historians and academics ... These combine to form a wonderful package that should inspire a new generation of entomologists and natural historians. Sonia Copeland Bloom and the A.E.S. are to be congratulated on a winning formula. Every school in the UK should have a set." (Antenna Review, 2012)

"In this introduction to this book on insects, Peter Barnard makes a very good point about sharing of knowledge." (Science Spin, 1 January 2012)

"Generally, the book is very readable, beautifully illustrated and very informative for those who are not primarily interested in morphology, phylogeny and evolutionary history. It can be recommended to amateurs and to all those who want to make themselves familiar with the rich and exceptionally well-investigated fauna of the British Islands." (Journal Zoological Systematics & Evolutionary Research, 2011)

"These points are perhaps carping: the book is welcome, a fine achievement, and will assuredly be a classic in entomological publishing in Britain." (Journal Insect Conserv, 2011)

"This really is an excellent book. Printed to the highest standards with a huge collection of excellent
photographs, it can stand alone as a coffee table book, or as the most up-to-date reference book to
this broad taxa published. For such a lavish book, I would say (even for a poor student like myself)
that the price is certainly worth it. I can see this being at my right hand side for many years to come." (The Amateur Naturalist magazine, 2011)

"A thorough introduction to the insects of Britain!." (, 30 October 2011)

"I have on my desk a copy of the newly published The Royal Entomological Society Book of British Insects by Peter C. Barnard, and it will make your head spin as much as anything Stephen Hawking ever wrote. It takes you through all 558 families of British insect; as a comparison, there are only 153 families of mammals in the entire world. It is a master-word of completeness; it includes 6,600 genera and 24,000 species – of which only 55 have protected status.

As you look at insects you cease to see biodiversity as something weird or amusing or defined by collections. You understand that biodiversity is fundamental. It is nothing less than the way that life on earth works. Making more and more and more different kinds of things is the basic mechanism of life. You can reach this conclusion by turning to any page of this marvelous book." 

Simon Barnes, Wild Notebook, (The Times, 8 October 2011)