Libellulidae Rhyothemis resplendens Jewel Flutterer Mt Molloy FNQ
Libellulidae Rhyothemis resplendens Jewel Flutterer Mt Molloy FNQ

What’s the deadliest insect in the world?  How long do butterflies live?  What’s that bug leaving strange lumps and bumps on my wattle tree? What has been laying eggs on the eaves of my house?

These are some of the questions a new book by a UQ School of Biological Sciences adjunct industry fellow can help everyday people to solve.

Entomologist and Director of Bugs Ed. Michelle Gleeson has written Miniature Lives - Identifying Insects in Your Home and Garden (CSIRO, $39.95) launched recently.

The book, which is lavishly illustrated with photographs and drawings, is written for gardeners, nature lovers, science and biology students, teachers, parents and grandparents of bug-crazed children.

Michelle completed her Bachelor of Science (Honours in entomology) in UQ’s School of Biological Sciences in 2002 supervised by Professor Gimme Walter.

“I loitered around the school for many years, including working as an assistant curator of the UQ Insect Collection, as a tutor and research assistant, and consulting on biological science outreach programs.

She set up her own business, Bugs Ed. in conjunction with the Mount Glorious Biological Centre in 2003, providing a range of hands-on entomology based workshops for children of all ages to expand their interest in insects. The business visits around 10, 000 children across South East Queensland each year and has subsequently moved to its own premises.

Through her work, Michelle was constantly assisting with public inquiries, especially from schools, who had children bringing in creepy crawlies in jars and lunchboxes, with teachers not knowing if they were looking at friends or foes.” 

She said people encountered insects on a daily basis, but most didn’t know an aphid from an antlion.

“All around Australia, inquisitive kids are chasing and catching insects,” she said.

“Bewildered parents are peering into bug-catchers and sheepishly admitting, ’Sorry Jimmy, I’m not sure what it is’.”

Michelle said being able to identify an insect found in the garden and around the house had benefits, including assessing the relative amiability or hostility of a bug, helping people to decide whether to share their space with it or eject it. 

“Trying to identify one of our six-legged companions can be daunting, so that’s why I wrote the book as a launch pad for a journey of discovery into the fascinating world of insects.”

In the book’s foreword, Australian naturalist Densey Clyne said insects comprised more than 80 percent of the world’s animals – or more than a million known species, with more to be described.

“Insects have always had a bad press,” she said. 

“But directly or indirectly they have had and still have an enormous and mostly positive influence on the way we live.  And let’s give them credit; only about one per cent of them cause us problems.”

Media: Michelle Gleeson michelle@bugsed.com  Phone/fax: (07) 3366 9393

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