A Buzz in the Meadow by Dave Goulson

From TheBookbag
Jump to navigationJump to search

A Buzz in the Meadow by Dave Goulson

Buy A Buzz in the Meadow by Dave Goulson at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Animals and Wildlife
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: An entertaining account of lives of insect species living in the rural French countryside.
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 288 Date: April 2015
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 9780099597698

Share on: Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn

Back in 2003, biologist Dave Goulson bought a run-down farmhouse and 33 acres of meadow in the idyllic French countryside. His aim was to create a sanctuary for all sorts of wildlife, where creatures could go about their business without fear of disturbance. Soon, the meadows were abuzz with activity, with insect species thriving. Birds, mammals and amphibians also colonised this tranquil patch of countryside, including the mysterious 'snake and owl-eating beast' and the elusive 'wack-wack' bird...but if you want to find out more about them, you will have to read the book for yourself.

Goulson starts each chapter with a description of his morning run, including tallies of humans, dogs and butterflies encountered along the way. The butterflies are harmless enough, but our brave author has some rather alarming run-ins with the other two. He then regales us with interesting anecdotes about the wildlife at 'Chez Nauche' and the rather unusual methods, both past and present, of studying such creatures. For example, in a study of butterfly mating habits, the author scoured a meadow in the hope of catching butterflies in the act of copulation. When he found a pair, he would knock them into a tub of liquid nitrogen, where they were frozen instantly, with their bodies locked together. This would enable him to study them closely under a microscope. I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for the poor butterflies.

In fact, mating seems to be a popular topic in this book and it seems that bugs can be particularly sadistic when it comes to methods of reproduction. The African bat bug, for example, has a sharp, pointed penis, which it uses to stab the female directly though her body and into her abdomen. Some unlucky females can receive multiple stabbings and can eventually die from infected wounds. Remember: however bad things seem to be, they could always be worse. You could be a female bat bug...

Goulson has a witty, engaging writing style that always leaves the reader wanting more. Not only is he incredibly knowledgeable, but his eloquent narrative is an absolute pleasure to read and I felt transported to the meadows of 'Chez Nauche' every time I picked up the book. My only minor criticism is that occasionally the content would go over my head. The chapters about genes and chromosomes were hard for me to fully grasp. I enjoyed the book immensely though and my highlight was reading it in my garden on a sunny day, when a passing bee decided to land on the page for a few seconds as if she knew I was reading all about her.

The book has a serious side too and Goulson is clear about the impact that human activity is having on our insect species. He discusses the dangers of continued use of neonic pesticides, which can accumulate in the soil over the years and have a devastating effect on surrounding wildlife. The content is designed to make readers think deeply, but never comes across as preachy.

If you are thinking of reading A Buzz in the Meadow, I recommend that you read A Sting in the Tale first, as it gives some useful background information that enhances the reading experience further.

Please share on: Facebook Facebook, Follow us on Twitter Twitter and Follow us on Instagram Instagram

Buy A Buzz in the Meadow by Dave Goulson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Buzz in the Meadow by Dave Goulson at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy A Buzz in the Meadow by Dave Goulson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Buzz in the Meadow by Dave Goulson at Amazon.com.


Like to comment on this review?

Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.