Archives for January 2018

Insect of the Week: Leaf miners

Adapted from pages 214-215 in Garden Insects of North America:

Some of the most discriminating feeders among the insects are the leafminers and needleminers . These insects tunnel between the upper and lower leaf surfaces, feeding on the soft inner tissue and avoiding the tough epidermis. Immature stages of many different groups of insects share the leafmining habit, including the larvae of various flies, small moths, beetles, and sawflies. They are often classified by the pattern of the mine they create. Serpentine leaf mines meander across the leaf, gradually increasing in width as the insect grows. More common are various blotch leaf mines, which are an irregular but generally round form.

An adult vegetable leaf miner (Liriomyza sativae) on an onion leaf. Photo credit: Whitney Crenshaw.

One subgroup of these are the tentiform leaf mines, blotchlike mines produced by some types of moth larvae that tie the interior mine with silk in a manner that causes it to pucker (like a tent) as it dries. Many of the fly leafminers in the family Agromyzidae make a serpentine mine as first-instar maggots, but they dramatically enlarge the mine into a blotch when in the second and third instars. These mines are often called comma leaf mines . In addition, small pinholes are usually present that result from feeding wounds by adult female agromyzid flies. These are produced when the female uses her ovipositor to mash underlying cells to release plant juices on which she will feed. As leaves expand, the pinhole wounds can expand into larger shotholes.

To get a glimpse of these mines, head to our Instagram.

Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs
Second Edition
By Whitney Cranshaw & David Shetlar

This second edition of Garden Insects of North America solidifies its place as the most comprehensive guide to the common insects, mites, and other “bugs” found in the backyards and gardens of the United States and Canada. Featuring 3,300 full-color photos and concise, detailed text, this fully revised book covers the hundreds of species of insects and mites associated with fruits and vegetables, shade trees and shrubs, flowers and ornamental plants, and turfgrass—from aphids and bumble bees to leafhoppers and mealybugs to woollybears and yellowjacket wasps—and much more. This new edition also provides a greatly expanded treatment of common pollinators and flower visitors, the natural enemies of garden pests, and the earthworms, insects, and other arthropods that help with decomposing plant matter in the garden.

Designed to help you easily identify what you find in the garden, the book is organized by where insects are most likely to be seen—on leaves, shoots, flowers, roots, or soil. Photos are included throughout the book, next to detailed descriptions of the insects and their associated plants.

An indispensable guide to the natural microcosm in our backyards, Garden Insects of North America continues to be the definitive resource for amateur gardeners, insect lovers, and professional entomologists.

  • Revised and expanded edition covers most of the insects, mites, and other “bugs” one may find in yards or gardens in the United States and Canada—all in one handy volume
  • Features more than 3,300 full-color photos, more than twice the illustrations of the first edition
  • Concise, informative text organized to help you easily identify insects and the plant injuries that they may cause

Katrina van Grouw on the 150th Anniversary of Darwin’s Classic Work

“My work is now nearly finished; but it will take me two or three more years to complete it, and as my health is far from strong I have been urged to publish this Abstract. I have more especially been induced to do this, as Mr Wallace…has arrived at almost exactly the same general conclusions that I have on the origin of species…No one can feel more sensible than I do of the necessity of hereafter publishing in detail all the facts, with references, on which my conclusions have been grounded; and I hope in a future work to do this.”

Darwin bust

A plaster bust of Charles Darwin (a wedding present from a friend) in situ on our living room bookcase—a daily reminder of the man, and his theory, that is the cornerstone of this book.

 The ‘Abstract’ Charles Darwin was referring to here is ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection,’ without a doubt one of the most influential books in human history. Despite being based on over 20 years of painstaking research, it was nevertheless —for the reasons given—written in a hurry, leaving several important questions unanswered. The most significant of these, and the premise on which Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection rested, was the question of how qualities can be passed from one generation to the next, and it was this question he set out to answer in the future work he alluded to in the passage above. The book was to be The Variation of Animal & Plants under Domestication and it was published on this day, January 30th, 150 years ago.

It wasn’t, I’m sorry to say, his greatest achievement. Apart from being overly long and lacking the focus and eloquence of Origin it presented a mechanism for inheritance that Darwin knew deep down to be flawed. He called it pangenesis. Every cell, Darwin alleged, produces minute particles called gemmules that circulate around the body and can be modified by circumstances experienced throughout life, eventually congregating in the reproductive organs prior to being passed on to future offspring. We now know, of course, that it’s not gemmules but genes that carry inherited information, and that because the genetic information in the sex cells—the cells that produce eggs and sperm—are isolated from the body cells, characteristics acquired during the life of an individual can’t affect them; at least not in any meaningful, long term, evolutionary sense.

So, to many Darwin fans, Variation is a bit of an embarrassment, representing his failure rather than his success. Even Darwin himself found the experience of writing it an ordeal. By the end of what he later described as four years and two months of hard labor, when his interests had already moved on to other things, he wrote in a letter to his friend Joseph Hooker, “If I try to read a few pages I feel fairly nauseated … the Devil take the whole book”!

Variation under Domestication is nevertheless impressive. It continues the analogy Darwin used in Origin comparing the selective breeding of domesticated animals with the process of evolution by natural selection. Darwin wasn’t blind to the fact that domesticated animals change over time. They evolve. (In those days it would have been called the transmutation of species.) While evolution in wild animals is usually too slow to observe within a human lifetime, changes in domesticated animals could be brought about, by careful selective breeding, within just a few animal generations.

Equally important, Variation also presents a remarkable compendium of reflections and observations on traits occurring under domestication, both made directly by Darwin himself: in his own pigeon loft and greenhouses, and from the experience of others. Darwin was an energetic letter-writer and kept up a barrage of correspondence with everyone, the world over, who he considered might be of use, from the loftiest stud owner to the humblest gardener. He socialized with pigeon fanciers among the erudite, and at the pigeon shows he attended in the insalubrious bird fanciers’ underworld of London’s Spitalfields slums.

Some of Darwin’s own skeletons of domesticated pigeons. Darwin kept fancy pigeons for several years, conducting breeding experiments and carefully comparing their skeletons in an effort to understand the mechanism for evolution and for the inheritance of certain characteristics.

Many of the collected observations, although familiar enough to fanciers, have scarcely since been given any attention by the scientific community. And yet it is undeniably science. And science, moreover, increasingly shown to be of relevance to modern understanding. Traits ‘discovered’ in domesticated animals have been found to help explain the evolution of similar characteristics in wild animals. The more we understand about evolution, genetics and development, the more our domesticated animals, and the people who breed them, have to offer. The difficulty lies in convincing the scientific community of their value. The more easily information becomes available in modern times, the more we shut ourselves off from what we think we don’t want to know, or fail to recognize that other social genres might possess the answers we seek. So much of the knowledge of animal fanciers would be of benefit to biologists, if only they would pay attention— as Darwin did.

It’s not every author that gets a significant anniversary coinciding with a book they’re already working on. I began my book, Unnatural Selection both as an exploration of Darwin’s analogy and as a way of thanking my husband for his help with my previous book, The Unfeathered Bird. Husband is a domesticated animal nerd and a lifelong breeder of fancy pigeons—not for sport or exhibition, but as a way of understanding the inheritance of certain traits. He conducts the same sorts of experiments, and makes the same sorts of observations that would have delighted Darwin.So when I realized that my completion date had a chance of coinciding with the 150th anniversary of Variation under Domestication the timing seemed too good to be true.

Throughout, my book uses examples from a lifetime’s experience of domesticated animal breeding, making it a tribute not just to Darwin’s accomplishments, but his style of research and writing. Darwin too was happiest when he was observing living things and carrying out his own experiments. They ranged from testing the effects of seawater on seeds in an effort to understand the colonization of oceanic islands to studying the senses of earthworms by observing their responses to different musical instruments. One of my favorites is his method to test the correlation between eyesight and hearing in very young kittens. Darwin had observed that kittens appear to be unresponsive to sound until their eyes have opened at around nine days. This was how he did it: (1) creep up to a nest of kittens, carrying brass poker and shovel, being careful not to make any sudden vibrations; then (2) bash poker and shovel together to make as much noise as possible! The kittens slept on, unfazed.

We recently watched our little troupe of bantams foraging in the garden. (Being Husband’s birds, they’re not recognized breeds but a motley collection of interesting genetic traits.) There were obviously a lot of good things to eat under the woodpile, but only the birds with the trait for shortened limbs could squeeze into the small gap—the others had to remain on the outside and listen to them feasting. Darwin’s conclusion would have been the same as ours: if food had been scarce, the short-legged individuals would have a better chance of survival than the normal ones.

Unnatural Selection was for me five years and two months’ hard labor and, far from feeling nauseated, I’m more proud of it than of anything I’ve ever done. Its purpose is to illustrate the scientific value of selective breeding and encourage those who turn up their nose at domesticated animals to view them with a little more respect. Also to explain how evolution works using the same analogy that Darwin chose and to suggest that this analogy is even more appropriate than even Darwin realized. And to be a tribute to what Variation under Domestication might have achieved, had Darwin possessed that elusive missing piece to the puzzle.

How ironic, that for all his copious letter writing, the questionnaires he sent out to breeders of plants and animals around the globe, and the extensive reading and meticulous research with which he informed himself of every possible source of useful material, Darwin allowed one crucial contact to escape his notice. For there was someone, at exactly the same time, conducting very similar breeding experiments to his own and with the same purpose in mind—someone studying inheritance in pea plants in a monastery garden in Brno… Gregor Mendel.

 

Katrina van Grouw inhabits that no-man’s-land midway between art and science. She holds degrees in fine art and natural history illustration and is a former curator of ornithological collections at a major national museum. She’s a self-taught scientist with a passion for evolutionary biology and its history.

As a special celebration of the 150th anniversary of ‘Variation under Domestication,’ Katrina be posting images, articles and excerpts from Unnatural Selection on her Facebook page ‘Books by Katrina van Grouw’ from today, January 30th, until Darwin’s birthday on the February 12th.

Anurag Agrawal: Monarchs & Milkweed in Mexico

Greetings monarch and milkweed enthusiasts from Mexico. This is Part II in my series from Oaxaca, where I am based on sabbatical leave from Cornell (see the first post here). This post follows up on the inspiration I am gaining on sabbatical and is an entryway for my next research and writing projects, following up on my recent book Monarchs and Milkweeds. I expect that the next post will be a detour from this series, as the overwintering numbers of monarch butterflies will soon be announced by the World Wildlife Fund – and this will provide an opportunity to reflect on monarch population trends (are they still declining?) (see last year’s post on the population here).

Oaxaca city is a bustling cultural and culinary capital, tropical, yet it sits at mid-elevation around 5000 ft above sea level.  January is the beginning of the dry season, with many trees beginning to lose their deciduous leaves.  And the “weedy” milkweed of Mexico, analogous to the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) of the eastern USA, is blood flower, sometimes called tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica.  This species, however, needs moisture and protection from the intense, constant and direct sunlight loved by many other milkweeds.  Here in the middle of the city, where a stream provides both moisture and shade, blood flower is abundant and apparently always in flower.  Hundreds of plants are along this corridor.

Although hundreds of millions of butterflies are currently overwintering in Michoacán (within the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve), here in Oaxaca, monarchs have a year-around (and apparently non-migratory) population. Adult butterflies were abundant in this stream corridor in January as were many eggs and large caterpillars.

This caterpillar found a quite spot away from milkweed to molt (change its exoskeleton to the larger size).

Butterflies fluttered, twirled around in mating behavior, and females could be seen curling their abdomens in preparation for laying an egg. The fact that non-migratory monarchs are abundant in the city of Oaxaca gives me pause.  I am not sure how long this has been the case.  Are these butterflies a reservoir for the declining migratory butterflies?

In the mid-elevation grasslands on the edge of town, this rare spring flowering milkweed was blooming early. Formerly known as Asclepias rosea, and now renamed to Asclepias senecionifolia (“the milkweed with leaves like Senecio”), it is pretty small and has feathery fine leaves.

This individual has the oleander aphid on it, feeding away (see yellow bugs in the center) and 5 (!) butterfly eggs.  I wasn’t sure which species of butterfly, until I noticed the plant next door.

This mature caterpillar is not a monarch, and I cannot quite tell if it is a “Soldier” Danaus eresimus or a “Queen” Danaus gillipus. Some of the closest relatives of our beloved monarch. Note that although the monarch has two pairs of tentacles, the soldier and queen sports three pairs, likely to sense the sounds, vibrations, and other aspects of its local environment.

As noted in the first post, the nodding milkweed, Asclepias glaucescens, a robus and waxy milkweed can be common in the region.

The creamy white (and large!) flower of the nodding milkweed, Asclepias glaucescens.

 

Leaves can be green to purple, and the prominent venation shows the canals that hold pressurized latex.

Break a leaf and experience the thick and toxic goo.  Both this species and the A. senecionifolia above exude large quantities of latex.

Before I encountered butterflies or caterpillars on the nodding milkweed, I came across this “bug” (a true bug, as it were, in the insect group Hemiptera). Note the highly contrasting red and deep blue, a classic advertisement of the toxic milkweed insects. Colleagues Georg Petschenka and Jürgen Deckert helped identify this as an immature of Largus species. This reminded me that I had previously found a Largus species associated with Asclepias linaria in northern Mexico about a decade ago.  We currently don’t know the extent to which Largus is specialized on milkweed (versus eating other plants) or whether it gains toxicity by sequestering milkweed’s toxins. Perhaps a good PhD dissertation for one my students!

Egg dumping!  This nodding milkweed had, count them, over 9 eggs, an unusual phenomenon for monarchs.  But I didn’t know if these were monarch or solider/queen eggs.  I suspected soldier because I had found solider caterpillars nearby (see above). Nonetheless, after they hatched a few days later, it was clear, they were monarchs!

Nonetheless, I found another soldier/queen caterpillar on a neighboring plant. Note the notch in the leaf made by a caterpillar (the vein drain!)

The soldier (or queen!) in all its glory.

Among the 25 or so nodding milkweeds I found, I came to realize that more than one Danaus species were coexisting. Several caterpillars of each species intermingled.  It is unclear the extent to which butterflies and caterpillars recognize each other as similar or different species, and what ecological consequence this has.  Do they compete?

And lastly, on the nodding milkweed Asclepias glaucescens, were these green aphids.  Not the oleander aphid found on A. senecionifolia above. Some ants collected their sugary excrement, but they were not so heavily tended.  The species identity and relationship with milkweed are unknown.

Later last week, I went on a hike to San Pablo Cuatro Venados, a close by community that sits near the top of a ridge (around 9000 ft above sea level) that forms the western wall of the Oaxaca Valley.  It was chili at the start of the hike, with thin mountain air along the 10 km trek on a dusty dry dirt road.  Just as we were turning around, I noticed this dusty purplish plant.  I instantly knew it was one of the rarer highland milkweeds.

The spectacular but confusing Asclepias melantha. Confusing only because I did not expect to see it flowering until the beginning of the rainy season in June or July.

Note the petals of Asclepias melantha. Although milkweed petals are often “reflexed”, or pushed back to give the flower a rocket-like appearance (see A. senecionifolia above), these petals form a cup around the rest of the flower.  The flowers of Asclepias glaucescens above are not reflexed either, but are less cup-like.

Back at lower elevation in the grasslands, this Asclepias oenotheroides (“looking like Oenothera”) had multiple butterfly eggs.  This species, known as zizotes milkweed, is common the south-central USA and all the way down here in Oaxaca.

Flowers of zizotes milkweed, Asclepias oenotheroides.

A large monarch caterpillar munching away on zizotes milkweed, Asclepias oenotheroides.

 

Alas, I thought I would have a butterfly, but here, as in so many other places, parasites like this fly larva got the best of the caterpillar! These flies are “parasitoids” who lay an egg in a caterpillar and then eat them from the inside out.

 

Anurag Agrawal (photographed, left, with a Malagasy elephant milkweed [Pachypodium] in downtown Oaxaca, Mexico) is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Department of Entomology at Cornell University.

 

He lives in Ithaca, New York. For more information, see his blog, publications, and multi-media on monarchs and milkweed.

The Painter’s Touch: 9 Things You Didn’t Know About These 18th Century Painters

In her new book, The Painter’s Touch, Ewa Lajer-Burcharth reexamines three French eighteenth-century painters: François Boucher (1703-1770), Jean Siméon Chardin (1699-1779), and Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806). While these three artists were already successful in their time, reexamination and reflection of their works throughout the years have caused our understandings of these artists to change. Lajer-Burcharth examines the careers of these three painters, and provides close-readings of their work, to show how their paintings played a part in the emergence of modernity.

We’ve highlighted a few interesting facts about each of the painters showcased in this book, revealing what their careers were like, how their lives and societal standings may have inspired their paintings, and what new information has been unearthed to help us better understand their place in art history.

 

François Boucher:

  1. Boucher was not only a talented painter, but a financially savvy moneymaker: “Boucher’s practice inscribes itself in this commercial context — and in the broader realm of commercial modernity — more deeply than has been realized. … Scholars have noted how successful and prosperous the artist became as a result of his commercial savvy. We know for a fact that Boucher left a considerable fortune after his death, amounting to about 150,000 livres, more than half of which was obtained from the sale of his collection of art and curiosities.” (page 12)
  2. Boucher often used unique interpretations of well-known characters as his subjects: “Ancient myth was, moreover, represented by Boucher as a terrain of private fantasy based on the experiences of the senses. The subjects, though based on specific literary sources, did not require erudition to be grasped and appreciated. Boucher offered idiosyncratic interpretations that emphasized and encouraged a play of imagination linked to the interaction between the main figures in each pendant.” (pages 41-42)
  3. Even though he was the preferred portraitist for Madame de Pompadour, a member of the French Court, Boucher was notorious for his inability to have his paintings faithfully resemble their subjects: “Pompadour was well aware of his shortcoming — stating as she did in a letter written to her brother in April 1751 that the copy of Boucher’s likeness she was sending to him in Italy “greatly resembles the original, less myself” — she seems to have been entirely satisfied with his results, multiplying her portrait commissions from him more than from any other artists.” (page 83)

Jean Siméon Chardin:

  1. While he may be considered a great painter today, Chardin was known for less positive qualities during his life: “The master of illusion was, then, also a kind of neurotic avant la lettre. His legerdemain concealed painstaking effort, procrastination, dissatisfaction, and a frequent inability to complete the task of representation. Suggested in these commentaries is a connection between the painter’s character and his working method, his personality being seen as responsible for the idiosyncrasies of his process.” (page 89)
  2. When painting a domestic scene, Chardin was known to focus on mothers and children, frequently leaving out a paternal subject: “As has been noted, the domestic realm depicted by Chardin is dominated by the figures of women and children, in the near total absence of men. Whatever else these paintings are about, they construct a space of primary relations between mother, or a maternal figure, and child, a space of initial subjective experiences based in duality that seems yet unaffected by a third party, be it a paternal presence, language (the exchanges, when they do occur, are muted), or social experience. (page 127)
  3. While painting self-portraits, Chardin made the innovative decision to include his eyeglasses: “Unusual before Chardin, the choice of spectacles as an element of an artist’s self-definition signaled the artist’s social position. Besicles, relatively cheap to produce in the eighteenth century, were popular among the lower classes but were rarely worn by the elite, and never in public. At the theater or in another social context, members of the upper class preferred to use a monocle, considered more elegant. The inclusion of the besicles in Chardin’s self-portraits was something of a class act — one the matched the defiantly common character of the painter’s attire.” (page 172)

Jean-Honoré Fragonard:

  1. Fragonard’s art, which was typically sexual in nature, hurt his reputation even as it made him financially successful: “Fragonard’s involvement with erotic subjects, combined with his reliance on private patrons, placed him in an awkward position as an artist. While his paintings and drawings were sought after by the renowned collectors and amateurs of the period, and they fetched high, at times even notoriously exorbitant prices, they were not the object of any sustained critical examination. Many admired Fragonard’s sheer technical brio … but no one was interested in articulating what were the specific aesthetic merits, if any, of his erotic art.” (page 178)
  2. While sketching landscape settings, Fragonard enjoyed walking, an unusual choice: “Why would Fragonard have needed to sketch as he walked? Evidently, there was no topographical necessity to do so, the site having been much easier to render while sitting or standing under the trees. But if the artist chose to walk, was it not because he was interested in capturing precisely that movement from withinthat was then perceived as being at once nature’s and mother’s? By simulating the quasinatural growth of the shape of the alley from the inner core — a hollow — at the bottom center, the draftsman let the page itself give birth to an image. By drawing as he moved, Fragonard was coming as close as he could to enacting the process of generation, his sequence of progressing or receding arches mapping out an act of becoming — of an image.” (page 196)
  3. In 2012, an important discovery caused the art community to rethink a collection of portraits Fragonard produced in the late 1760s: “The names scribbled by the artist under his thumbnail renditions of each likeness confirmed the identity of only two figures —abbé de Saint-Non and Monsieur de la Bretèche — and contradicted most of the others. The presumed Diderot and La Guimard have proven false.” (page 213)

For more information about these three artists, and the development of artistic modernity in eighteenth-century France, read The Painter’s Touch.

Ewa Lajer-Burcharth is the William Dorr Boardman Professor of Fine Arts at Harvard University. Her books include Chardin Materialand Necklines: The Art of Jacques-Louis David after the Terror.

Browse our 2018 Art and Architecture Catalog

We are delighted to announce our new Art and Architecture catalog for 2018. Our list features a range of new titles, including a collection of quotations by one of the world’s most important political artists, a new edition of a classic book in the history of textiles, a lavishly illustrated volume by a renowned American photographer, and a new look at the portraiture of one of the greatest artists of the nineteenth century.

Stop by Booth #417 at CAA to see these titles and more! And join PUP at our booth at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, February 23 for a reception in honor of our new and forthcoming titles.

Ai Weiwei (b. 1957) is widely known as an artist across media: sculpture, installation, photography, performance, and architecture. He is also one of the world’s most important artist-activists and a powerful documentary filmmaker. His work and art call attention to attacks on democracy and free speech, abuses of human rights, and human displacement—often on an epic, international scale.

This collection of quotations demonstrates the range of Ai Weiwei’s thinking on humanity and mass migration, issues that have occupied him for decades. Humanity speaks to the profound urgency of the global refugee crisis, the resilience and vulnerability of the human condition, and the role of art in providing a voice for the voiceless.

Written by one of the twentieth century’s leading textile artists, this splendidly illustrated book is a luminous meditation on the art of weaving, its history, its tools and techniques, and its implications for modern design. First published in 1965, On Weaving bridges the transition between handcraft and the machine-made, highlighting the essential importance of material awareness and the creative leaps that can occur when design problems are tackled by hand.

With her focus on materials and handlooms, Anni Albers discusses how technology and mass production place limits on creativity and problem solving, and makes the case for a renewed embrace of human ingenuity that is particularly important today. Now available for a new generation of readers, this expanded edition of On Weaving updates the book’s original black-and-white illustrations with full-color photos.

American photographer Emmet Gowin (b. 1941) is best known for his portraits of his wife, Edith, and their family, as well as for his images documenting the impact of human activity upon landscapes around the world. For the past fifteen years, he has been engaged in an equally profound project on a different scale, capturing the exquisite beauty of more than one thousand species of nocturnal moths in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, French Guiana, and Panama. Gowin’s stunning color portraits foster awareness for a part of nature that is generally left unobserved and call for a greater awareness of the biodiversity and value of the tropics as a universally shared natural treasure.

Mariposas Nocturnas reminds readers that, as Terry Tempest Williams writes in her foreword, “The world is saturated with loveliness, inhabited by others far more adept at living with uncertainty than we are.”

Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) may be best known for his landscapes, but he also painted some 160 portraits throughout his exceptional career. This major work by John Elderfield establishes portraiture as an essential practice for Cézanne, from his earliest self-portraits in the 1860s; to his famous depictions of figures including his wife Hortense Fiquet, the writer Emile Zola, and the art dealer Ambroise Vollard; and concluding with a poignant series of portraits of his gardener Vallier, made shortly before Cézanne’s death.

Beautifully illustrated with works of art drawn from public and private collections around the world, Cézanne Portraits presents an astonishingly broad range of images that reveal the most personal and human qualities of this remarkable artist.

Bird Fact Friday – Greater Honeyguide

Adapted from page 112 of Birds of the Masai Mara:

The Greater Honeyguide is a vocal bird found in light, open woodland. You are likely to hear these birds making their repeated, telephone-like, territorial call “wheet-too” well before you see them. The first view is usually a good look at their distinctive behinds as they fly off. The flash of white in the outer tail feathers is common to honeyguides – but be wary of Klaas’s Cuckoo which shares the same feature. The basic plumage of this species is grey below and dull brown above, but the sexes and immature birds can be told apart: males show a black throat and white cheeks; females do not; while immature birds have a bright lemon-yellow wash to the throat and breast and a blue eye-ring.

An adult, male Greater Honeyguide. Photo credit: Adam Scott Kennedy

Both sexes call a soft rattle which lures people and Honey Badgers to bee colonies, where both parties get to enjoy the spoils. Like cuckoos, honeyguides are brood-parasites, laying their eggs in other birds’ nests for the host family to raise. However, honeyguides target different species, specializing in tree-hole nesters such as barbets and woodpeckers.

To see what an immature Greater Honeyguide looks like, head to our Instagram.

Birds of the Masai Mara
By Adam Scott Kennedy

Birds of the Masai Mara is a remarkably beautiful photographic guide featuring the bird species likely to be encountered by visitors to the popular Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. With an eye-catching layout, easy-to-use format, and no-jargon approach, the book contains more than 300 stunning photographs covering over 200 species of birds and is accessible and informative, rather than purely identification-based. A handy, brief introduction provides visitors with background on the habitats of the national park, and the guide’s habitat-based approach makes it simple to identify any bird species according to where it is found. Based on the firsthand experiences of the author, Birds of the Masai Mara is an ideal companion to all those visiting the national reserve and to bird aficionados interested in learning more about the region.

  • The only photographic guide to focus solely on the bird species of the Masai Mara National Reserve
  • More than 300 remarkable photographs covering over 200 species
  • Accessible text explores bird species behavior and species etymology
  • A brief and handy introduction examines the habitats of the Masai Mara
  • Easy-to-use habitat-based layout makes exciting birdwatching easy

First published in 2012.

Princeton University Press launches WeChat in China

On Monday, January 15th 2018, Princeton University Press’s China Office launched its official WeChat account, establishing a new and growing social media presence in China. From now on, PUP will be able to connect with the Chinese public on a regular basis.

The momentum has continued steadily as subscribers have grown with each new article published on WeChat. In the past week and a half, we have detailed PUP’s rich history, shared a list of our economics titles, and an author interview featuring Jean Tirole. (Read it here.)

Together with PUP’s US based social media team, we will continue to publish consistent, quality updates encompassing every subject area, announce book events in China, and provide more China-related content from top Chinese scholars.

We are confident that PUP China’s venture into Chinese social media will be ever more successful thanks to PUP’s impeccable academic standards, time-tested prestige, and, most importantly, our Chinese readers’ eagerness for knowledge and wisdom.

If you have the WeChat App on your phone, make sure that you scan the QR code and follow PUP on WeChat!

 

Seneca on How to Die

Romm“It takes an entire lifetime to learn how to die,” preached Seneca, the famed Stoic philosopher of Ancient Rome. In other words, it’s never too early to begin your preparations for departing this life. Seneca wrote eloquently on the universality of death, its importance as life’s final and most defining rite of passage, its part in purely natural processes and cycles, and its ability to liberate us. In How to Die, James Romm has selected and translated excerpts relating to death and dying from eight different works of ethical thought by Seneca—let it be your handy companion on your journey toward reconciling with the inevitable. Here are five tips from How to Die to ponder as you prepare for what may be the most important task you will ever undertake.

 

Prepare Yourself

“Perhaps you think it is useless to learn something that must only be used once; but this is the very reason we ought to rehearse.”

Have No Fear

“What’s to be feared in returning where you came from? He lives badly who does not know how to die well…. [D]ying fearfully, often, is itself a cause of death…. He who fears death will never do anything to help the living. But he who knows that this was decreed the moment he was conceived will live by principle.”

Have No Regrets

“We consider this earth, with its cities, peoples, and rivers, enclosed by a circle of sea, as a tiny dot, if it’s compared with all of time…. What difference does it make to extend [life], if the amount of added time is little more than nothing?”

Set Yourself Free

“Each of us ought to seek a life that wins approval from others, but a death, from himself.”

Become Part of the Whole

“There are fixed seasons by which all things progress; they must be born, grow, and perish…. There is nothing that does not grow old. Nature disperses these things, all to the same end, though after different intervals. Whatever is, will no longer be; it won’t die, but will be undone.”

Skull

Browse Our 2018 Birds & Natural History Catalog

Our new Birds & Natural History catalog includes the most comprehensive field guides to North American birds of prey ever published, an in-depth look at the most poisonous plants on earth, and a book that follows birds around the globe to reveal where they actually go when they roam the sea.

If you’re attending the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in Titusville, FL, stop by Booth #59 for our full range of Birds & Natural History titles and more.

Written and lavishly illustrated with stunning, lifelike paintings by leading field-guide illustrator, photographer, and author Brian Wheeler, Birds of Prey of the East and Birds of Prey of the West depict an enormous range of variations of age, sex, color, and plumage, and feature a significant amount of plumage data that has never been published before. The painted figures illustrate plumage and species comparisons in a classic field-guide layout. Each species is shown in the same posture and from the same viewpoint, which further assists comparisons. Facing-page text includes quick-reference identification points and brief natural history accounts that incorporate the latest information. The range maps are exceptionally accurate and much larger than those in other guides. They plot the most up-to-date distribution information for each species and include the location of cities for more accurate reference. Finally, the guides feature color habitat photographs next to the maps. The result sets a new standard for guides to North America’s birds of prey.

Featuring hundreds of color photos and diagrams throughout, Plants That Kill explains how certain plants evolved toxicity to deter herbivores and other threats and sheds light on their physiology and the biochemistry involved in the production of their toxins. It discusses the interactions of poisonous plants with other organisms–particularly humans—and explores the various ways plant toxins can target the normal functioning of bodily systems in mammals, from the effects of wolfsbane on the heart to toxins that cause a skin reaction when combined with the sun’s rays. This intriguing book also looks at plants that can harm you only if your exposure to them is prolonged, the ethnobotany of poisons throughout human history, and much more.

Michael Brooke has visited every corner of the world in his lifelong pursuit of seabirds. Here, he draws on his own experiences and insights as well as the latest cutting-edge science to shed light on the elusive seafaring lives of albatrosses, frigatebirds, cormorants, and other ocean wanderers. Where do puffins go in the winter? How deep do penguins dive? From how far away can an albatross spot a fishing vessel worth following for its next meal? Brooke addresses these and other questions in this delightful book. Along the way, he reveals that seabirds are not the aimless wind-tossed creatures they may appear to be and explains the observational innovations that are driving this exciting area of research.

Featuring illustrations by renowned artist Bruce Pearson and packed with intriguing facts, Far from Land provides an extraordinary up-close look at the activities of seabirds.

Insect of the Week: The Common Northern Walkingstick

Adapted from pages 50-51 of Garden Insects of North America:

There are 29 species of walkingsticks in North America, but most are rarely observed. For the common Northern walkingstick, it favors oak, black cherry, elm, basswood, and black locust for hosts. Paper birch, aspen, dogwood, and hickory are occasional hosts. On these plants, nymphs and adults chew leaves, with typically minor damage, but occasional outbreaks in forests cause significant defoliation. These walkingsticks are distributed over much of the area east of the Great Plains except the most southern states. They are most numerous around the Great Lakes.

A walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata). Photo credit: James Solomon, USDA Forest Service, bugwood.org

Full-grown adults reach a length of about 3 inches. They are highly variable in color and may be
nearly pure green, gray, brown, or mottled. Eggs of the common walkingstick hatch in late spring from eggs resting on soil. In forests, the young nymphs usually feed first on the leaves of low-growing plants, then move to trees as they get older. Adults are present by midsummer, and the females drop their seedlike black eggs indiscriminately until frost. In southern areas of the range, these eggs usually hatch the following spring, but in the northern states and Canada they remain dormant until the second season.

Head to our Instagram to see additional photos of the walkingstick.

Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs
Second Edition
By Whitney Cranshaw & David Shetlar

This second edition of Garden Insects of North America solidifies its place as the most comprehensive guide to the common insects, mites, and other “bugs” found in the backyards and gardens of the United States and Canada. Featuring 3,300 full-color photos and concise, detailed text, this fully revised book covers the hundreds of species of insects and mites associated with fruits and vegetables, shade trees and shrubs, flowers and ornamental plants, and turfgrass—from aphids and bumble bees to leafhoppers and mealybugs to woollybears and yellowjacket wasps—and much more. This new edition also provides a greatly expanded treatment of common pollinators and flower visitors, the natural enemies of garden pests, and the earthworms, insects, and other arthropods that help with decomposing plant matter in the garden.

Designed to help you easily identify what you find in the garden, the book is organized by where insects are most likely to be seen—on leaves, shoots, flowers, roots, or soil. Photos are included throughout the book, next to detailed descriptions of the insects and their associated plants.

An indispensable guide to the natural microcosm in our backyards, Garden Insects of North America continues to be the definitive resource for amateur gardeners, insect lovers, and professional entomologists.

  • Revised and expanded edition covers most of the insects, mites, and other “bugs” one may find in yards or gardens in the United States and Canada—all in one handy volume
  • Features more than 3,300 full-color photos, more than twice the illustrations of the first edition
  • Concise, informative text organized to help you easily identify insects and the plant injuries that they may cause

 

Jörg Rüpke on Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion

In this ambitious and authoritative book, Jörg Rüpke provides a comprehensive and strikingly original narrative history of ancient Roman and Mediterranean religion over more than a millennium—from the late Bronze Age through the Roman imperial period and up to full-fledged Christianization. While focused primarily on the city of Rome, Pantheon fully integrates the many religious traditions found in the Mediterranean world, including Judaism and Christianity. This generously illustrated book is also distinguished by its unique emphasis on “lived religion,” a perspective that stresses how individuals’ experiences and practices transform religion into something different from its official form. The result is a radically new picture of both Roman religion and a crucial period in Western religion—one that influenced Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and even the modern idea of “religion” itself. With its unprecedented scope and innovative approach, Pantheon is anunparalleled account of ancient Roman and Mediterranean religion.

In a world where religion is changing its face in rapid and unexpected ways, how is Roman religion, two millennia older, similar?
Rome was perhaps the largest city of the world before the modern period. The religious practices and beliefs of a million people from all over Europe, West Asia, North Africa and occasionally beyond were as varied as religion is in today’s megacities. It is interesting to see how Roman lawmakers and judges dealt with such a situation. And it is even more interesting to see how ‘normal’ citizens understood and used such a religious pluralism. Different gods at every corner, shrines on walls, polemical graffiti, people earning their living by selling religious goods and services, shaven heads or loud music—there is more to discover and learn than the solemnity of the emperor having a bull killed on the Capitoline hill.

Why did you invent a fictitious figure at the start of your history?
Religion is about people claiming to have religious experiences and valuing religious knowledge. There is no religion if everybody thinks that their neighbors addressing a divine being is just ridiculous. But religious experiences or knowledge cannot be simply decreed. To understand the unbelievable dynamics of ancient religion—the invention of statues and monumental temples, to think that gods would enjoy horse races or self-mutilation, etc.—a historian needs to get an idea of what went on in people’s head. We will never know, but we can imagine. Rhea is an avatar to tell us what a woman at the beginning of the Iron Age might have thought. As the basis for these thoughts are archaeological traces of deposits, meals, tombs, hearths, etc. I thought it would be more honest to invent such a speaker and her reflections instead of crediting an attested person without evidence that can be firmly ascribed to them.

How do Judaism and Christianity figure in your book?
I tell the story of nearly a millennium, from the 8th and 7th centuries BCE to the middle of the fourth century CE. From the Roman point of view, Jews show up in the second half of that period only, people calling themselves “Christians” even later, and Muslims are beyond the horizon. Apart from occasional troubleshooting in Judaea or Alexandria, it was only at the very end of antiquity that Jews and in particular Christians are important on a large scale. Before that they were simply a small minority. I tried to balance this. In terms of pages they are overrepresented. In terms of their significance they are massively underrepresented.

What is your favorite god from this large ancient pantheon?
I write about ancient religion, I don’t participate in it! But this was fascinating: ancient polytheism is not about large number of gods or a clear division of labor. It was about empowering (nearly) everybody to arrange and sometimes create their own divine helpers and addressees. If I pray at the end of an interview to Mercury with his quick tongue, to violent Mars and to Silvanus, lord of the endless woods, the interviewer should be careful…

PantheonJörg Rüpke is vice-director and permanent fellow in religious studies at the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Sociological Studies at the University of Erfurt, Germany, and has been a visiting professor at the Collège de France, Princeton University, and the University of Chicago. His many books include On Roman Religion and From Jupiter to Christ.

Announcing the 2018 Bookselling Without Borders International Book Fair Scholarship for US Booksellers

NEW YORK, New York (January 16, 2018) — A partnership of seven independent publishers (Catapult, Europa Editions, Graywolf, The New Press, Other Press, Princeton University Press, Rutgers University Press) announces the 2018 Bookselling Without Borders international book fair scholarship for US booksellers.

This unique program, now in its third year, will send booksellers on all-expenses-paid trips to the world’s premier book fairs, including the Turin Book Fair, the Frankfurt Book Fair, and the Guadalajara International Book Fair.

Fairs like these have long been important gatherings of the book industry. In order to connect American booksellers to global book conversations and to integrate them into the international book community, participating booksellers will be treated to customized itineraries at select fairs: specially developed panels, meetings, seminars, and receptions with their international counterparts, authors, and publishers.

“If the idea was to make me think more expansively about the role that books from other places should play in my life as a bookseller, the scholarship was spectacularly successful.”—David Sandberg, owner of Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA and 2017 scholarship recipient.

In addition to its seven partner publishers, Bookselling Without Borders is generously supported by Ingram Content Group, as well as by over 250 individual donors who contributed more than $30,000 through a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2017.

Booksellers interested in diverse and international literature, in fostering relationships with the international bookselling community, and in traveling to some of the world’s great literary cities are encouraged to apply by visiting booksellingwithoutborders.com during the application period, January 17 through February 28.

Scholarship recipients will be announced in March 2018.

For further information contact: Steve Kroeter; Program coordinator; Bookselling Without Borders; swk@design101.com; 718-636-1345