Book Review: Endless Forms: The Secret World of Wasps by Seirian Sumner

This is a book to bring wasps out of the shadows of honeybees and bumblebees. We tend to glorify bees and see wasps as villains. The insects that sting, are aggressive, and eat other insects. I’m no exception to this statement. I get more scared when I see a wasp fly indoors than honeybees and bumblebees. After finishing this book, I felt ashamed to maintain these insects’ lousy rep through my behavior. But out in nature, when I’m taking my macro photos of insects, I see wasps all the time, and I’m not afraid.

So here I was, reading a book about wasps, and again found how irrational our fears are regarding insects and Araneae. The creepy crawlies make our skin crawl, and our fear responses blow out of portions. I can hear millions of people screaming from the top of their lungs, “kill it.” But as with other insects, wasps are integral to our ecosystems. We just, as Seirian Sumner points out, need to figure out what the purpose is. We know surprisingly little about wasps because you know they are not soft and cuddly as a bumblebee is. But Seirian Sumner and her fellow scientist have started to piece together what this insect is all about: its social behavior, constructing abilities, biology, evolution, and place in our ecosystems. In addition, Serian Sumner goes over in this book the different species of wasps. This is a comprehensive book about wasps with the author’s personal relationship with them.

I loved this book. It cured my irrational fear when it came to wasps. I learned about paper wasps and solitary wasps. And vespine wasps and their social behavior: how they built empires and foraged food and how they could be used as a natural method to control pests in our agriculture. Though I have one huge misgiving, and that is chapter five: Dinner with Aristotle. I hated every part of it, how the author seemed to have a conversation with Aristotle, who, by the way, did a remarkable study of honeybees. The whole concept of the chapter made me wince. The author’s play on Aristotle’s character, what he would have said and done, annoyed the heck out of me. It felt like a forced stereotype or a play she wanted to play, and not a free conversation. I don’t know if it is petty of me to let one chapter and one concept ruin the book for me.

Thank you for reading! Have a great weekend ❤

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