A Buggy Book Review

“Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragonfly
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky.”
Dante Gabriel Rossetti


As I have been building my garden into one for wildlife to share, I have been paying attention to the critters who visit.  I started with birds, was enamored with the frogs and toads and moved to butterflies.  But recently I have been more interested in the others who live here; the bugs or are they insects.

 So when I heard about this book, I thought what a great way to introduce myself to the insect world.  I will tell you I loved this book so much I also purchased the first book by the authors, The Life Cycles of Butterflies which I will review in October.  Learning about the basics of bugs and insects has certainly opened my eyes even more to what I do in the garden, and how it greatly affects the life cycles around me.

I am linking in with Holley@Roses and Other Gardening Joys and her monthly Garden Book Review meme that takes place on the 20th of every month as I introduce you to this wonderful book.


The Secret Lives of Backyard Bugs



by  Judy Burris and Wayne Richards

Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC (June 1, 2011)
List Price:  $ 14.95
Amazon Price: $10.17 (Paperback)





In A Few Words

The book is broken into two parts.  Part One is an Introduction full of information about the authors and different cycles-seasonal cycles, plant life cycles, soil life cycles and life cycles of insects and spiders (incomplete and complete metamorphosis).

Part Two is all about The Secret Lives of Insects and Spiders:  fireflies, ladybugs, beetles, dragonflies and damselflies, lacewings, hoverflies, stick insects, Chinese Mantid, wasps, bees, ants, grasshoppers, crickets, cicadas, katydids, aphids, stink and spittlebugs, leafhoppers, black widow spider and many butterflies and moths.

The entire book is filled with amazing photographs that will delight readers of all ages.  Each of the sections about the insects has wonderful basic information with pictures of the different stages of the insect.

The back of the book has picture comparison guides of the eggs, larvae, pupae and adults of 24 of the bugs.  There is also a picture guide to the Top Host and Nectar Plants for many of the insects.



What I Liked

The brother-sister author team has brought the mysterious world of these little critters to life.  And this book is a great way to start to learn about insects whether you are 5 or 55.  It is laid out to show you in big bold pictures the bugs so you can easily identify them in your garden right down to the eggs.  The photography is beautiful and taken mostly in one backyard.  I was amazed to learn that all these creatures could be found in my garden if I had the right habitat.

Do you know the difference between an insect and a bug?  I didn’t but in simple terms you will learn this as well as ways to protect pollinators.  You’ll also find out how pill bugs and slugs benefit the garden.  After reading this book, I learned so much more than I ever did in biology class.  I finally discovered all about the life of a firefly and why they disappear later in summer.

The section on butterflies and moths highlights the most abundant of these.  One of the added bits of information is the host plant for each.  Without growing these specific plants, you cannot hope to attract these critters.  And do you know the difference between a dragonfly and damselfly?  I finally do.  It’s all in the spacing of the eyes and the way they position their wings when at rest.  Just oodles and oodles of fascinating facts about 90 different bugs including their habitat and life cycle.


Not So Much

I would love to see a sequel to this book with more information and pictures about spiders as there was only one in the book that is not found here, the black widow.  And the section on bees and wasps is only a couple of pages.  A whole picture book on bees and wasps would be so helpful for gardeners and junior scientists as they explore their backyards.


Final Thoughts

This book is an excellent book for children, grandchildren, a favorite teacher or a favorite gardener.  It is a great beginning that will whet your appetite to learn more.  Although I don’t know the exact bee, dragonfly or damselfly pictured here, I look forward to learning more so I can easily identify them at their various stages in my garden.  I want to keep a critter journal next year to identify the different insects in the garden, when I see them, what stage they are in and how many I see.  Kids will want to take this book outside and begin their bug search so get ready for bugs, dirt, leaves and a whole lot of fun!

“With six small diamonds for his eyes
He walks upon the summer skies,
Drawing from his silken blouse
The lacework of his dwelling house.”
~Robert P. Tristram Coffin, The Spider

Come Join Us:

I hope you will join me for my Seasonal Celebrations meme.  And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Beth and her Garden Lessons Learned meme.  What lessons have you learned this past season of summer here in the North and winter in the South.  Then tell us about your wishes, desires and dreams for this new season.

The rules are simple.  Just create a post that talks about lessons learned and/or seasonal celebrations.  If you are joining in for both memes please leave a comment on both our blog posts.  Or if you are choosing to join only one meme, leave a comment on that blog post.  Make sure to include a link with your comment.

Beth and I will do a summary post of our respective memes on the equinox (around the 21st of September).  And we will keep those posts linked on a page on our blog.  Your post should be linked in the weekend before the equinox to give us enough time to include your post in our summary.  And if you link in a bit late, never fear we will include it on the special blog page (when I get it done that is).

The badges here can be used in your post.  So won’t you join in the celebration!!


Next up on the blog:     Please join me for the Seasonal Celebrations revealed on the 21st.  At the end of the month I’ll share another favorite native wildflower.

I will be linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month on the 3rd Tuesday, at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. The next one will be on the 18th.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2012.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

34 Replies to “A Buggy Book Review”

    1. Karin I thought of you and your JMG class too. It would be great as would her other 2 books. I plan to review the butterfly book in October.

  1. I admit that I’m terrified of bugs and it took a long time to get used to seeing creepy crawly things in the garden (butterflies, ladybugs, and dragonflies were about the only things I could stand). I’ve come to appreciate and respect insects, though, and find them very interesting, although I still get spooked easily when I lift up a leaf and something comes popping out at me.

    1. Since creating the more wildlife garden areas, I have come to be less spooked. Although if the critters are in the house all bets are off and I do not like them invading my territory. I am funny that way I guess!

  2. A critter book is a good idea. You have to show us when it is complete. The book you reviewed sounds interesting. You should use Cornell for ID. They have some wonderful entomologists there to help with ones less identifiable. I find that so many look like each other, only an expert can identify. That is why I usually don’t name them, especially bees. Too many look similar to each other. The blog, Standing Out in My Field has an entomologist author who is very helpful. I ask for her assistance often.

    1. Will do. The resources you reference are also very good. I remember you mentioning the blog. Unless I know without a doubt, I tend to not identify bees either. Very tricky. But I like having these other references since I am past the beginning stages with insects.

  3. Donna, education is essential when it comes to some of these subjects like the beasties you talk of today. Dragonflies and Damselflies, I didn’t know that, I just thought the Damselfly was smaller. Yes, I like them all, well Vine Weevil, that’s maybe pushing it.

    1. I bet there are a few I am not fond of as well. The little white butterflies decided to lay their eggs on my kale and now the caterpillars have devoured my food. So I have to learn to share and cover some crops, but tomato hornworm would never be welcome here.

  4. This sounds like a book I would enjoy. I am always discovering insects I have never seen before, and I wonder more and more about them. Thanks for the introduction to this fine book.

    1. It is a great book for beginnings and to learn more about some of the many insects that will inhabit your garden….and it has helped me want to learn more from other resources now.

  5. Thank you for such a wonderful review of our book! We are always documenting the new creatures we discover in our gardens, and we have photographed more spiders and bees since the release of this book. Our goal is to show gardeners the incredible diversity that can be found in their own backyard, plus we really want to get kids interested in nature.

    – Judy Burris and Wayne Richards –

    1. My pleasure Judy, and you have met that goal and beyond. It did just that for me in my garden and I will make sure I mention this when I do the next review. I agree too that these books are a perfect way to get kids involved. I hope more parents do just that and maybe gift it to their child’s teacher as well. As a teacher I would have loved getting any of these books as a gift! 🙂

  6. I really like the sound of this book Donna. But I suppose it focuses on American bugs, not European ones… I’ll have a look on Amazon. And thanks for the interesting review!

    1. I would say yes more American ones but we do have an overlap of common insects or insect groups so I still think it would apply to some degree.

  7. I’ve always been more naturalist than gardener so this is my kind of a book. With a macro lens we can see the weird and wonderful creatures but so often I do not know what they are. A very good and useful review Donna – and you always have the perfect quote for every occasion. The spider is just lovely.

  8. I’m not a huge fan of bugs but I do recognize their importance and I try not to kill them. Unless they’re in the house, of course. To me, a good bug book is one that has numerous photos of each stage so they can be easily identified. This book looks very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I think that is why I liked this book Grace because of the pics of the stages. I agree a good bug is a bug in its environment outside!

  9. Stunning photo of the dragonfly!! Mine seem to be a blur as the dragonfly flies away. I had chapters to learn in Master Gardener class about bugs…and insects. This is an area I need to learn more. We sure have lots to learn about in my backyard. (I did know the difference between the damsel and dragonflies) Think the book would be a good one to have on hand. Also need one that is about reptiles and amphibians….have lots of tiny frogs and toads and lizards.

    1. Thanks Janet. I have so many dragon and damselflies due to the pond that if I stand still they will light somewhere nearby for a while so I can move slowly and capture them in a picture. I also need a good amphibian book…so hard to tell the differences sometimes.

  10. Sounds like a fun book! And a very interesting one, too. I will buy it for my granddaughter, and “borrow” it first! 😉 I am especially interested in knowing more about fireflies as I rarely see them anymore. I am also looking forward to hearing about The Life Cycles of Butterflies!

    1. Thanks Holley. This year I had hundreds of fireflies especially because I use no chemicals and they love the meadow. Great idea to buy it for your granddaughter 🙂

  11. Great post and very informative. It is nice to know the difference between the dragonfly and damselfly. Beside the birds, that I love I am starting to notice the insects, butterflies and critters. I enjoyed your post, reading the info, seeing the photos and the lovely quote. Thanks for sharing.

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