Despite this ancient and easy familiarity with beetles, the Coleoptera remains tainted by the notion that it is a difficult’ group of insects. The traditional routes into studying British natural history, through birdwatching, butterfly-collecting and pressing wild flowers, now extend to studying dragonflies, bumblebees, grasshoppers, moths, hoverflies and even shieldbugs. These are on the verge of becoming popular groups, but beetles remain the preserve of the expert, or so it seems. So many British beetles are easy to find and easy to identify by the non-expert, but that bewildering background diversity, and the daunting numbers of species in the Coleoptera as a whole, have been enough to dissuade many a potential coleopterist from grasping the nettle and getting stuck in.
Richard Jones’ groundbreaking New Naturalist volume on beetles provides a comprehensive natural history of this fascinating and beautiful group of insects.
“Considering the large number of British species and their popularity among naturalists, it is perhaps surprising that it has taken this long for the publication of a New Naturalist volume on beetles. It may, however, be that it has taken so long precisely because of the number of species and the difficulty of covering the group in a single volume. Fortunately, this has now been addressed by Richard Jones, who has produced a truly excellent account which more than adequately fills the gap […] While the content of such a book is, of course, of major importance, the style of the author is also critical in making the reading experience a pleasant one, rather than a chore. In this case, Richard Jones has succeeded admirably, the text being both authoritative and yet highly readable, dotted throughout with personal experiences and other anecdotes, which help to bring the subject to life. […] Beetles is highly recommended for the bookshelf of anyone wishing to be better acquainted with these remarkable insects.”
– Richard Wright, British Wildlife 29(3), February 2018
Editors’ Preface viii
Author’s Foreword and Acknowledgements ix
1. What is a Beetle? 1
2. Beetle Variety 33
3. Life Histories – Larval Forms and Behaviour 63
4. Special Features – Adult Quirks and Oddities 109
5. Beetle Flight 139
6. Beetle Habitats and Natural History 161
7. British Beetle Families 201
8. The Human Significance of Beetles 281
9. Evolutionary History of Beetles 311
10. The Origins of British Beetles 329
11. A History of British Coleopterists 355
12. The Future – How to Study Beetles 381
Appendix: Online Resources 407
Species Index 445
General Index 462
Richard Jones is a nationally acclaimed entomologist, a fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, fellow of the Linnean Society, and past president of the British Entomological and Natural History Society. He has been fascinated by wildlife since a childhood exploring the South Downs and Sussex Weald after plants and insects – especially beetles. He now writes about insects, nature and the environment for BBC Wildlife, Gardener’s World, Countryfile, the Guardian and Sunday Times and has regular media appearances on programmes such as Springwatch Unsprung, Natural Histories and Open Country. He is the author of several books on science and wildlife.