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The Master Gardener Journal


Garden Insects of North America Book Review
Published by Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-09560-4

Reviewed by Sue Hakala, Master Gardener

At last! Whitney Cranshaw has put together a book on bugs that I have been wishing for. All 656 pages are packed with useful information on garden bugs, making this, as he boasts, the ultimate guide to backyard bugs. Dedicated to "entomology educators, and the Cooperative Extension system which so well fosters the spirit of shared learning," you will like this book.

Not able to include the well over 100,000 plus insects that inhabit North America, Cranshaw focuses in on those 1,420 most likely to be encountered by gardeners, and most likely to injure plants in our backyards. After perusing garden books, a review of handouts produced by Cooperative Extensions around the country was done to see what insects people encounter the most, databases were checked and universities contacted to contribute suggestions. The result is a comprehensive compilation of all those bugs you love to hate.

Organized under chapter headings such as leaf chewers; flower, fruit and seed feeders; sap suckers; stem and twig damagers; trunk and branch borers; root, tuber and bulb feeders; beneficials and more, Cranshaw makes it easy to find the culprit that you may be trying to identify.

The 7.5" x 10" size of the book provides space to present a thorough description of the insect, its relatives, life cycle, how to keep it in check, and other useful information on the left page. On the right page are 5 to 10 good color close-up photographs of the little darlings in all life stages, as well as the damage they do.

Identification is simplified: No thumbing through pages to see a small photo of a bug mentioned pages before. It's right there, right next to the description, big and easy to see. Treating correctly for the insect that you may be battling is essential, and knowing the good guys is too. Without the aid of this book, I would have squashed an assassin bug just this morning. They love to eat other bugs, its death would have been a loss for my garden.

A big appendix lists plants and the insects that are most attracted to them. For instance, under citrus are listed 21 scales, 3 mites, 5 leaf chewers, 1 peelminer, and 9 other sucking insects that might be attacking your tree. Under rose are listed the flower chewers; gall makers, scales, flower-sucking and other sucking insects, mites, cane borers, and root feeders attracted to this plant. An 18-page index lists the insects by their Latin and common names for those who know them. Published this year for $30 on acid-free paper, it is a must-have book for all insect fighters and lovers, gardeners and entomologists.



Maricopa County Master Gardener Volunteer Information
Last Updated November 21, 2004
Author: Lucy K. Bradley, Extension Agent Urban Horticulture, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County
© 1997 The University of Arizona, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cooperative Extension in Maricopa County
Comments to Maricopa-hort@ag.arizona.edu 4341 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix, AZ 85040,
Voice: (602) 470-8086 ext. 301, Fax (602) 470-8092