The most recommended insect books

Who picked these books? Meet our 23 experts.

23 authors created a book list connected to insects, and here are their favorite insect books.
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What type of insect book?


Book cover of Bumblebee Economics

John M. Marzluff Author Of Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans

From my list on wild animals written by scientists that study them.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an ornithologist who studies the myriad ways in which we affect birds and they, in turn, affect us. I’ve conducted field research for over four decades, focusing mainly on the behavior, ecology, and evolution of corvids—crows, ravens, jays, and their relatives. Through these birds I’ve discovered how our settlements, agriculture, and recreation play into their hands, often to the detriment of less adaptable species. As a professor of wildlife science for 25 years, I’ve mentored many graduate and undergraduate students and written hundreds of technical articles. In my writing for popular audiences I aim to celebrate the successful birds that share our world and raise awareness of those we are driving toward extinction.

John's book list on wild animals written by scientists that study them

John M. Marzluff Why did John love this book?

I first read this book as a graduate student and it gave me a new appreciation for insects. Heinrich wowed me by describing his discovery of a hot-blooded insect. Bumblebees can increase their body temperatures by shivering and in this way live in our coldest climates. They heat up to fly in search of nectar which they bring back to their nest of developing bees. They even hibernate and survive the winter in cold regions such as Heinrich’s backyard study area in Maine. This book so influenced me that I eventually studied with Heinrich, spending three years in his Maine woods following the lives of ravens with my wife, Colleen.

By Bernd Heinrich,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Bumblebee Economics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is a brilliant introduction to insect and plant ecology focusing on one of nature's most adaptive creatures, the bumblebee. Survival for the bumblebee depends on its ability to regulate body temperature through a complex energy exchange, and it is this management of energy resources around which Bernd Heinrich enters his discussion of physiology, behavior, and ecological interaction. Along the way, he makes some amusing parallels with the theories of Adam Smith-which, Heinrich observes, work rather well for the bees, however inadequate they may be for human needs.

Bumblebee Economics uniquely offers both the professional and amateur scientist a coherent…

Book cover of Beetle Boy

Virginia Clay Author Of Warrior Boy

From my list on told from the point of view of animals.

Why am I passionate about this?

I live in Nairobi, and my first book, Warrior Boy, is set here in Kenya. I live in a house that used to be an animal foster home. The previous owner left, but some of the non-human residents remained, including a gazelle, 25 tortoises, six cats, two dogs, a monkey, a snake, some fish, guinea pigs, and chickens. They all have such diverse personalities, and my children and I will often amuse each other by performing whole scenes involving the various animals and their voices. I could not help but write my next book, Forever Home, from their perspective. I hope you enjoy my book recommendations, all of which have helped me write my book. 

Virginia's book list on told from the point of view of animals

Virginia Clay Why did Virginia love this book?

Technically, Beetle Boy is not told from an animal’s POV (or even a beetle’s POV for that matter), but an important part of the main human character’s journey is that he learns how to understand what the beetles are saying. Young people have a special ability to communicate with animals, and because you are reading this, it is highly likely you are one of those. So, please enjoy this super fun, heartwarming tale, and be encouraged that if you think you understand animals—you probably do. Conversely, if you think I am ridiculous, then I suggest you learn how to listen to animals and minibeasts as soon as possible. You don’t want to become one of those adults Roald Dhal calls “stodgy” now do you?

By M. G. Leonard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beetle Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

In this “hugely entertaining adventure with . . . characters worthy of Roald Dahl,” a boy searches for his father with help from an extraordinary beetle (The Guardian).

Darkus Cuttle can’t believe his eyes when a huge insect drops off the pants leg of his horrible new neighbor. It’s a giant beetle—and it seems to want to communicate with him. But how can a boy be friends with a beetle? And what does a beetle have to do with the disappearance of his dad and the arrival of the terrifying Lucretia Cutter, with her taste for creepy fashion?

The first…

Book cover of The Vegetable Garden Pest Handbook: Identify and Solve Common Pest Problems on Edible Plants - All Natural Solutions!

Mary-Kate Mackey Author Of The Healthy Garden: Simple Steps for a Greener World

From my list on garden books to save the planet.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a person who thinks gardening could be one of the most important endeavors anyone can do. I’m a writer, a speaker, and the recipient of eight Garden Communicators International media awards, including a Gold in 2021 for my column, “Rooting for You,” on the Hartley-Botanic Greenhouse website. My byline has appeared in numerous magazines such as Fine Gardening, Horticulture, Sunset, and This Old House. I’m always interested in great ideas for problem-solving in the garden.

Mary-Kate's book list on garden books to save the planet

Mary-Kate Mackey Why did Mary-Kate love this book?

To stop polluting our natural world with killer chemicals, gardeners have to know the good bugs from the bad, and how to effectively deal with the latter without harming the former. That’s where this book steps up with the latest effective information. It reveals the fascinating scope of which denizens are living among your plants and discusses assorted methods to encourage more of nature’s allies, who will, in turn, help eliminate the foes, and create a vital and sustainable balance. 

By Susan Mulvihill,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Vegetable Garden Pest Handbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Vegetable Garden Pest Handbook, you’ll find the simple, straightforward resources and tools you need to identify common pests of edible gardens and manage them without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides.

Climate change and newly introduced insect pests are changing the world of gardening. Pests that once produced a single generation per year are now producing two or even three, and accidentally imported pest insects have no natural predators to keep them in check. These leaf-munching critters can cause significant damage in short order, reducing your yields and costing you time and money, especially if your garden is…

Book cover of Collins Complete British Insects: A Photographic Guide to Every Common Species

Jane Adams Author Of Nature's Wonders: Moments That Mark the Seasons

From my list on entertaining and fascinating UK nature books.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a UK nature writer and amateur naturalist, I have a fascination with the natural world. If it squeaks, buzzes, croaks, hisses, or tweets, I want to know more about it. I enjoy books that are both captivating and easy to understand, and I’m at my happiest when uncovering unusual facts and exploring the rich folklore surrounding our wildlife. As a writer, I contribute to magazines focusing on nature and wildlife-friendly gardening. I also teach creative writing and have authored a book celebrating the wonders of our UK wildlife. I live in Dorset and find endless joy in observing and nurturing whatever wanders or flies into my overgrown garden.

Jane's book list on entertaining and fascinating UK nature books

Jane Adams Why did Jane love this book?

In the summer, this book takes over from British Wildlife as my favourite reference book that doesn’t bamboozle me with science. I nearly always find the insect I’m looking for and then inevitably spend half an hour lost in details of the plants it eats or places it lives.

I wouldn’t want to be without this book, and I regularly buy it as a present for friends and family. 

By Michael Chinery,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Collins Complete British Insects as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A photographic field guide to 1,500 species of insects found in Britain A photographic field guide to all the common and some unusual species of insects across Britain that the keen amateur naturalist is likely to spot. Approximately 1,500 species are illustrated with clear photographs chosen for their help in identification. / Details of distribution for each insect, and whether it is common or rare / Includes photographs of larvae / Each section is coded with a symbol for easy reference / Information on easily confused species / All the information on the species together in the same place Insect…

Book cover of Ants: Workers of the World

Susanne Foitzik Author Of Empire of Ants: The Hidden Worlds and Extraordinary Lives of Earth's Tiny Conquerors

From my list on the evolution of insect and human societies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a scientist studying the evolution of insect communities for years. I am fascinated by their high degree of cooperation and how these animals make collective decisions. But I also observe social parasitic ants that raid other colonies and make their workers work for them. This tension between altruistic cooperation on the one hand and violence and war, on the other hand, is common to human and insect societies, even if they evolved in completely different ways. I hope that when you read the books I recommend here, you will be as fascinated as I am by these parallel universes and perhaps next time you will see an ant with different eyes. 

Susanne's book list on the evolution of insect and human societies

Susanne Foitzik Why did Susanne love this book?

I'm an ant researcher, so perhaps it's not surprising that I'm recommending an ant book. But this book is less about the short essays, which do a great job of describing the biology of these social animals, and more about the photos. Most people overlook ants because they are so tiny, but when you enlarge them, as in this book, they show their real beauty. When I received my copy, I was amazed and I have seen many ants up close. But the sheer variety of morphological structures, faces, and yes, even colors. Not all ants are black or red, there are even ants that shimmer in all the colors of the rainbow.

We notice mostly ant workers, but in this book also the males are represented, and they often look out-worldly, so not at all like we imagine ants. A book that shows the aesthetics of these social animals…

By Eleanor Spicer Rice, Eduard Florin Niga (photographer),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nature's most successful insects captured in remarkable macrophotography

In Ants, photographer Eduard Florin Niga brings us incredibly close to the most numerous animals on Earth, whose ability to organize colonies, communicate among themselves, and solve complex problems has made them an object of endless fascination. Among the more than 30 species photographed by Niga are leafcutters that grow fungus for food, trap-jaw ants with fearsome mandibles, bullet ants with potent stingers, warriors, drivers, gliders, harvesters, and the pavement ants that are always underfoot. Among his most memorable images are portraits-including queens, workers, soldiers, and rarely seen males-that bring the reader…

Book cover of Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion

Erik Christopher Martin Author Of The Case of the French Fry Phantom: Dotty Morgan Supernatural Sleuth Book One

From Erik's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Storyteller Social Worker Tabletop role playing gamer Reader Perpetual student

Erik's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Erik Christopher Martin Why did Erik love this book?

Ruby Finley is a gifted child with an interest in science...particularly entomology, or the study of insects.

One day she discovers a new species of bug. Men from the government appear almost immediately. They tell her it is an invasive species that must be eradicated, but she suspects things are not as they seem. Is it simply an ecological threat? Or a full-blown alien invasion? 

I loved this book for Ruby. She’s a delightful protagonist that I think would be best friends with my own main character, Dotty Morgan.

By K. Tempest Bradford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Eleven-year-old Ruby is a Black girl who loves studying insects, much to the grossed-out dismay of her Gramma and the pride of her parents. So when she finds the weirdest insect she's ever seen in her front yard, she makes sure Gramma isn't looking and captures it for further study.

But then Ruby realizes that the creature isn't just a rare insect. It's an alien bug. And it has promptly burned a hole through her window and disappeared. Soon things around the neighborhood go missing, and no one's heard from the old lady down the street for a week. Ruby…

Book cover of Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse

Linda Newbery Author Of This Book Is Cruelty Free: Animals and Us

From Linda's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Campaigner Animal advocate Vegan Photographer Walker

Linda's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Linda Newbery Why did Linda love this book?

Like Rachel Carson in Silent Spring,1962, Goulson warns of the catastrophic declines in insects and the resulting threat to all life on Earth. He quotes biologist E O Wilson: "If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos."

Even if we're incapable of valuing wild creatures for themselves and not merely for how they serve us as pollinators or ecosystem managers, we're taking huge risks with our careless approach to herbicides and pesticides; our drive for endless crops and increased meat production leads to devastation for the natural world.

Yes, it's grim, but Goulson, an engaging writer, intersperses the text with descriptions of particularly unusual and endearing insects to lighten the tone - and he also outlines how we can do better. An important and timely book.

By Dave Goulson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Silent Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Read this book, then look and wonder' Sunday Times

*A TLS Book of the Year*

We have to learn to live as part of nature, not apart from it. And the first step is to start looking after the insects, the little creatures that make our shared world go round.

Insects are essential for life as we know it - without them, our world would look vastly different. Drawing on the latest ground-breaking research and a lifetime's study, Dave Goulson reveals the long decline of insect populations that has taken place in recent decades and its…

Book cover of Knee-Deep in Thunder

Rebecca Chace Author Of June Sparrow and the Million-Dollar Penny

From my list on to reach for in the middle of the night.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer who has mostly written books for adults, as well as plays and screenplays, and June Sparrow and the Million Dollar Penny is my only book for children (so far). Though I read a lot of adult literature I have never stopped reading children's books. I always keep a "comfort" book on my bedside table for the middle of the night. I think that a really well-written, timeless children's book can teach us, comfort us, and take us on a journey. No matter what age you may be, I hope that you will read these books, or revisit them even if you think you are "too old" for children's books.

Rebecca's book list on to reach for in the middle of the night

Rebecca Chace Why did Rebecca love this book?

This is a book I reach for if I wake up in the middle of the night, feeling worried or anxious, and I just want to go to another world. The lead character is a young girl who is brave and kind (but not perfect!) who enters a magical world by accident. This world turns out to be made up of many of the elements of our own world that we may not notice—ants, beetles, spiders, and other creatures (not all insects, but these insects are wonderful). They become part of a band of adventurers who face an epic hero's journey with a strong message about how to stand by each other, without being corny or predictable.

This is an older book, published in 1969 by a Native American author who draws on Navajo mythology. I recently re-read it myself, and it was one of those books that I couldn't…

By Sheila Moon, Peter Parnall (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Knee-Deep in Thunder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In service Maris finds danger, absurdity, joy, deep friendship. What happens in the Great Land may be a paradigm for what could happen on earth. "If it is done with courage it leads a heart home." First published over 20 years ago by Atheneum Press, Knee Deep in Thunder and Hunt Down the Prize have been reprinted now together with the first printing of Deepest Roots. This first book in the trilogy begins Maris' adventures informed by Navajo mythology and a deep stream of age-old wisdom; but her problems and questions all belong to today. Originally written for young people,…

Book cover of Some Bugs

Darren Lebeuf Author Of My Forest Is Green

From my list on young nature lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the kind of person who can stare at a leaf and be mesmerized by its colours and textures. As an author, illustrator, and photographer I am constantly inspired by nature, and through my work I hope that I can inspire others to find beauty in the outdoors. As a father, my favourite moments with my kids are when we are outside looking under rocks, following a ladybug, climbing trees, or trying to find the best stick. I love seeing how other authors share their passion, and this list shows some of the many ways that we can appreciate nature and all that’s in it.

Darren's book list on young nature lovers

Darren Lebeuf Why did Darren love this book?

My daughter and used to love reading this book together. It’s a wonderful introduction into the strange and exciting world of insects, where things fly, jump, buzz, bite, and much more. The illustrations are fun and colourful, and the text is easy for a young child to understand.

By Angela DiTerlizzi, Brendan Wenzel (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Some Bugs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 2, 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

Grab a magnifying glass and come hop, hide, swim and glide through a buggy undergrowth world!

Featuring insects including butterflies and moths, crickets and cicadas, bumblebees and beetles, this zippy rhyming exploration of backyard-bug behavior is sure to have insect enthusiasts bugging out with excitement!

Book cover of A Moth-Hunter's Gossip

James Lowen Author Of 52 Wildlife Weekends: A Year of British Wildlife-Watching Breaks

From my list on helping you see British wildlife.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been immersed in nature since I was able to walk, my love for nature initially inspired by a chance encounter as a toddler with a buzzard amid South Devon’s leafy lanes. Upon fledging into adult plumage, I eventually became an award-winning wildlife and travel writer. After returning to Britain after several years leading wildlife tours in South America and Antarctica, I had an irrepressible desire to renew my relationship with British nature. My books 52 Wildlife Weekends, A Summer of British Wildlife (winner, Travel Guidebook of the Year, 2016) and Much Ado About Mothing (a travel narrative longlisted for the 2022 James Cropper Wainwright Prize) are the result.

James' book list on helping you see British wildlife

James Lowen Why did James love this book?

Moths are the underdogs of the animal kingdom – unfairly castigated as pests and associated with evil darkness.

I wrote my book to set the story straight. Decades earlier, publisher P.B.M. Allan had done these insects a considerable service, showcasing Britain’s remarkable moths and relating, in a jocular fashion, his escapades across Britain to see many of them.

Reading his book, I came to appreciate quite what diversity of moths Britain harbours – and was inspired by his enthusiasm to go out and see them for myself. The moth hunter’s gossip is long out of print, but can often be tracked down at second-hand retailers.