Friday, January 27, 2023

Review: Broadsides from the Other Orders: A Book of Bugs

Broadsides from the Other Orders: A Book of Bugs Broadsides from the Other Orders: A Book of Bugs by Sue Hubbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This classic book about bugs is so much fun! I have to admit that if I had read it ten years ago, it would have been over my head. Now I understand taxonomy and understand how Hubbell organized the book. She took each major order of insects: flies, beetles, true bugs, etc., and detailed the life story of a species or genus. She chose those bugs with which she was familiar in her life.

The chapter on lady beetles detailed how they are captured in the wild for dispersal to gardeners who insist on buying them for their aphid eating abilities, even though there are other insects, like lacewings, which would do a better job. The lady beetle harvest is cutthroat: harvesters steal territories, and lady beetles are mistreated. All for the almighty dollar.

Hubbell is known for her cave cricket "hobby." It was more than a hobby and has inspired many people to raise them. I have seriously considered raising them, but it is more involved than raising lepidoptera, so I have decided against it. 

My favorite chapter, I suppose, was about the spongy moth, Lymantria dispar. The moth that is infamous for defoliating the northeast at various times (and sections of Europe, also) was deliberately imported to Massachusetts for the silk trade. It was known even then, in the 1800s, how devastating the consequences could be if the moth escaped. And it did. The social history after its inevitable escape is fascinating. 

The book is engaging and even humorous. I laughed out loud when Hubbell wrote about a geological age that ended five million years ago "next Tuesday." I wish I had met the lady. Sadly, she passed away in 2018 at the age of 83. As soon as I can, I am going to read her personal and famous memoir, A Country Year: Living the Questions. I will, however, read the Kindle edition to enjoy her language and hear her true voice.

Jody's photo of Lymantria dispar

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


  1. I think it is a good book but I would stop short of calling it a classic.

    1. Hi, David. I think that Rob Dunn in "Never Home Alone" called it a classic. I can't verify that, though, since none of my audio bookmark clips were saved (aarrrgghhh). To me, these are all classic because I'm a newbie. I'd love to hear your recommendations, too!

  2. It would probably be over my head.

    I've never understood importing species, especially if it's known there will be trouble if it gets out. It always, always gets out. Look at the nutria down here.


Thank you for visiting and for your comments!