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Eur. J. Entomol. 103: 60, 2006
EISNER T.: FOR LOVE OF INSECTS. The Belknap Press of cantharidin in predators (spiders, frogs and birds) and its aphro- Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Lon- disiacal effects on man (in, as he says, the pre-Viagra years).
don, UK, 2004, xiii + 448 pp. ISBN 0-674-01181-3, hard cover.
Non-specialists will be surprised to read that cantharidin is not necessarily synthesized in both sexes in meloids (males transferthe compound to females with the sperm package at mating) or As emphasized in the foreword by E.O. Wilson, the vast that the phenomenon of “cantharidiphilia” is now well docu- majority of organisms, surely more than 99% when plants, mented in representatives of all major insect orders, Coleoptera, invertebrates and microorganisms are considered, orient, com- municate, reproduce, subdue prey and defend themselves by Text of individual chapters is accompanied by several hun- dred of illustrations of an excellent quality. They include photo- As very apparent from the chapter headings, nearly all the graphs of model species and their “ethological relatives”, aspects of a nascent field of biology, namely chemical ecology, detailed pictures of structures related to chemical communica- are taken into account. Naturally, predominantly model species tion, scanning electron microphotographs, graphs, line drawing of insects are dealt with in detail (e.g. the ornate moth, Utetesia of chemical formulas of the substances in question, structural ornatrix, is mentioned in many chapters), but chemical commu- and anatomical details as well as sketches of laboratory experi- nication in numerous other organisms like e.g., spiders, milli- pedes and vertebrate insect predators is also considered.
The Bibliography contains a list of more than 300 references Thomas Eisner was born in Berlin, Germany in 1929, and grouped in a paragraph called “General readings” and a further graduated at Harvard University in 1952, and is one of the pio- 10 paragraphs referring to individual chapters. The index at the neers in the study of chemical communication, especially the end of book is a desirable combination of an index of scientific use of pheromones in courtship and understanding of defence names, facilitating orientation, and references to genera, species mechanisms. This excellent book is based on hundreds of and higher taxonomic groups of insect and other animal and original papers in research journals and his experiences as both plants, a subject index including chemical substances and an a laboratory experimentalist and field biologist in Uruguay, index of the authors mentioned in the text.
Australia, Panama, Europe and North America.
Hundreds or possibly even thousands of books on insects, tar- Besides the prologue and epilogue, the book consists of 10 geted at the public, nature lovers, beginners in entomology and chapters called Bombardier, Vinegarons and other Wizards, environmentalists have been published. Naturally, their quality Wonders from Wonderland, Masters of Deception, Ambulatory varies from mere compilations, detailed, but rather time- Spray Guns, Tales from the Website, The Circumventers, The consuming descriptions of insect morphological adaptations to Opportunists, The Love Potions and The Sweet Smell of Suc- fascinating collections of photographs and other illustrations. In cess. For instance, the chapter entitled The Love Potions (pp.
my opinion, Eisner’s book undoubtedly belongs to the “top ten” 327–347) deals with a well-known insect toxic substance, can- and is the master entomologist’s masterwork. In this book tharidin. Eisner describes not only its structure, synthesis and Eisner shares his world with seamless and beautiful prose and toxicity, occurrence in numerous beetle families, effects on no naturalists or natural scientist will want to be without this other insects (e.g. bioassays on drinking rate in ants and mouth- part cleaning behaviour in carabid beetles) but also the fate of

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