Over the years I found that spending the time in the wilds, chasing poseur, and recalcitrant insects is all very well, but you gotta share these treasure troves. Most humans on the planet will never see these critters, and even myself, when I go back to the same spots, my chances of finding the same species are slim. So immortalising the fav images and observations in books, 18 and a half now, has become something that keeps me off the streets. Money is certainly not the motivation. In this day and age of internet overload blaaaah, all the books still in print, produce royalties which at most might buy one advance purchase airfare – to go look some more. Passion is a betterer driver of creativity.
moth pages example
Fly pages example
Currently book stores in Australia are often closed, alas, so in the meantime the Newholland publisher site can help. If you feel a burning need to wow visitors to your coffee table, at only $49.99, try this link:
Intro pages example
A Field Guide to INSECTS of AUSTRALIA
This has been around since 1995, originally co-uthored with a dear friend, Ross Storey, who is no more. His specialty was the fun loving dung beetles of the world. In his capacity as a serious entomologist, he was instrumental in naming any new species of insects that I discovered, and which eat shit, after me. Now its fourth edition, the updates on the last two were alas done only with input from my lesser self.
The guide is now 328 pages, with over 600 insect photos and many informative drawings. It is both an introduction to entomology, and a pictorial guide, complete with a plastic ‘nappy’ , ready for the real outdoors. More than half my 18.5 books are with Newholland/Reed, and the link for their pages, devoted to myself and I, is above. Other books are mainly with CSIRO. It is currently priced at $
INSECTS of AUSTRALIA Reed Concise Guide
The Field Guide above gave birth to a little bambino version, for people with very small pockets. Sourced mainly from the same material, it has 192 small pages, 270 insect photos, and also has a plastic nappy, for life in dirty pockets. And a bambino price too, $16.99
Green Guide INSECTS of AUSTRALIA
I know – if you have been reading the blurbs above, this may seem like more of the same – but be surprised. This was a fun project for me, cause it did not need to satisfy the ‘field guide’ thing, but could be a way to present the subject of insects in a more original and fun way. All my books attempt to show that insects are amazing – of course. This small book organises the critters according to how and where they live in their worlds. So it can group aquatic insects, or hunters, or poo eaters, according to their lifestyle and the habitat interactions.
Dont tell the publishers, but this little ditty has existed since 2002. A lifetime plus for books in our fickle market. Publishers sometimes have these little hissy-fits, and empty out warehouses by ‘remaindering’ books, ending their print runs. Very sad. But this one still exists and is a relative cheapo at $19.99
Now the most enjoyable book creation time comes from knowing who will read it and how they might react. Not magic really – just use those bizzare little creatures called children. Newholland has a series in an imprint called Young Reed, which are larger than A4, thin, but hardback books, with presence. I have created several, and the nice humans there allowed me to not just write and illustrate them, but design them in my fevered brain.
SPIDERS, SNAILS and other MINIBEASTS of Australia
It all started with the almost A3 sized minibeasts book, though that proved triksy for bookshop shelves. The initial designer was Tania Gomes and myself, and I later played with this style layout in the other books. The cover below was changed several times and so I now only have this bad photo of the final. Note the critter at the top. All Harry Potter humans will know that this was used as a ‘scary monster’ for the wizards to learn to control. Its so wonderfully yukky in reality, that the producers did not change a thing for the film (other than size). Its eight legged – but thats OK too – and called a tailless-whipscorpion, in real life about 10cm across the legs.
This format includes an activities page and links, and is hopefully aimed at kids of every age to about 99. If still avaiable it will be on the Newholland site, for $20.
Can You FIND ME ?
My own very favourite stories in the insect microverse, are about deception. The art of hiding in plain sight, crypsis or camouflage. And the art of mimicking someone else in order to escape being eaten, or better still to eat the ‘model’ critter. So my fav of the kids book series is all about this, though sadly this is one of those victims of publisher weirdness – whereupon they sold out all the copies, but did not reprint more. It is – I hope temporarily – extinct. A minute of silence please.
Yep all fun and games above – but the only copies now are in the fickle second hand market online. Makes me most sad. Please ask Newholland for it over and over again and meybe they will relent and print it.
Yes that was the next title in 2017. A whole book devoted to critters what suck the blood from other critters, and to make it doubly delicious for the attention of younger readers, yes it has a section on leeches which suck the blood out of hippopotamuses’ bums ! And of course the whole dracula silliness, and real story of leeches on eyeballs, and mozzies and sand flies, and fish which really like your poo. Enough already. Alas the naughty publishers killed this one too, but me myself and I have a supply hidden under the bed, so maybe we can make a deal with mr Post…. $20 + …
World’s Weirdest BUGS – the tiny aliens among us
2018 saw the publication of my last in this series so far. A fun bit of entomological silliness for the child in us all. This one , touch wood, is still alive in the warehouse. It is a series of vignettes showing extreme, funny, bizzare, and of course, ludicrous adaptations among my friends, the insects. All true but.
I know that having two chapters delving into the secrets of bums is cheating, but honest, insects are not squeamish about that stuff, and evolution has played some pretty weird games around that subject …. Every chapter has some memorable stories to get you by at parties – be the life of. And try your bookstore, if the poor souls are allowed to be open in lockdown-land – otherwise its the Newholland website at the top of page-ish. Price $19.99
CSIRO guide books:
A Guide to Australian Moths
This one is a very timely collaboration between Dr Ted Edwards – the biggest fish in the moth botherer fishbowl – and my pictures and design bits. It was the first in a series of books for the ‘common man’ that CSIRO decided to start, after mainly publishing heavy duty scientific works, and selling mainly online. Moths leave petty butterflies for dead in the beauty, quirky and outrageousness stakes. Over 20,000 named species in Australia, versus 416 poseur butterflies. This 215 page guide manages to introduce about 400 species that will surprise humans who do not have a UV light sheet set up with them as they travel – you have missed a whole universe.
I feel humbled that a genuine world expert on a subject as broad as moths, collaborated with me on this thing. It is full of information that hitherto has not seen the light of day, either hidden in scientific papers away from normal humans, or hidden in the vast storehouse of experience in the Ted Edwards human – a true master of his field. Alas CSIRO has decided to go all groovy ‘young person’ on us, and is doing e-book only now – not reprinting this as a real paper book-book. It is available on all the sites: Amazon, Ebooks.com, google, kobo.
A Guide to the BEETLES of Australia
So as we all know, beetles are the most numerous insects and/or all critters on the planet, and among them the weevils most speciated of all. Over 20,000 named species of beetles, and over 6500 of them weevils, in Australia alone ! This is a big subject to cover in a reasonably priced guide book. I collaborated with a beetle expert, George Hangay, and used mainly my pictures and some design work. It is 238 pages, about 400 species illustrated, and heaps of factoids. Alas this one is also now only an e-book, at all the sellers above.
The dream of complete guides
Now all my books just dabble in reality. There are soooo many species of this and that insect group in Australia, or heaven forbid, the whole insect mob, that to do a ‘complete’ guide seems impossible. In Europe there are complete guides, because they have a lot less species, a LOT more entomologists to name and research them, and a lot more enthusiasts to wander about the countryside and get the dirt on their distribution. Their books even have maps for each species. Such are my dreams. However lately several complete guides have been created by super dedicated, expert, humans in Oz. Eons ago, in 1972, there was a complete guide to the butterflies, by I F B Common. This was turned into a serious two heavy volume work, with very perfect pictures, by CSIRO and Michael Braby in 2000. Despite its huge and wondrous presence as a book-book in the hand, it is now sadly only available as an e-book – but its smaller, affordable paperback version is still a book-book.
Then in 2006 a book on all the Odonata – the dragonflies and damselflies, by Gunther Theisinger and John Hawking came out… and still exists as an object you can hold in the hand, from the CSIRO website. Meantime the most prolific entomologist I have ever known, Dr David Rentz, moved to the rainforest near Kuranda in N QLD, and started to produce impossibly detailed books. He had to first write scientific papers describing all the new species hanging about collections with no names, and only then write what, at least on the day, are complete guides. Oz is the only place which now has a complete guide to the cockroaches. Now dont giggle, as these beasties, all 550 species in Oz alone, are actually very fascinating. Just subtract the eeeky domestic species from your mind’s eye, and in the wild they hold their own as interesting dudes. My blog page will have several entries over time. It is now only e-book on CSIRO site.
A complete guide to the ‘normal’ crickets, and then the katydid crickets, came out since. The cricket book is still in a print run as a book-book, and the katydids are pixels in e-lala-land.
A Guide to STAG BEETLES of Australia
All this is leading up to me fessing up about my inglorious role in a complete guide. In 2016 I worked with George Hangay and Roger De Keyzer, on a complete guide to the stag beetles of Australia. Wonderful beasts. I spent much time setting up photographs of perfect specimens in a light box studio of my devising, which cancelled out the flares that these shiny beetles have in most photos. However as the book progressed, me and the Roger had disagreements about the photos what he was doing too, and I spat the dummy and asked CSIRO to take my name off the cover. Pretty dumb in retrospect, but it was my Van Gough ear moment – perfection or bust. The book is great, and only the insiders know it was partly mine – at least the cover still has my picture of one of the most amazing beetles in the world.