Super Fly: The Unexpected Lives of the World's Most Successful Insects
Review by Jamie Stanley
I think that all bugs are amazing. Super Fly is about true flies, taxonomic order Diptera. Written for the amateur entomologist or merely interested, Jonathan Balcombe provides loads of factoids and little known (or considered) information about true flies.
These creatures might not win any popularity contests; in fact, they are “the least understood and the most detested” of all insects, as entomologist Mark Deyrup states in the book. But they do fill incredibly important roles in nature as pollinators, waste disposers, predators and prey.
The order Diptera is also “megadiverse,” a very successful life form. British fly expert Erica McAlister estimates there are “about seventeen million flies for every human.” Balcombe explores the exquisite adaptations of true flies and proves a genial host in more ways than one. Photos in the book include one of a newly emerged botfly that incubated under the skin of his friend Rob Voss, Curator of Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History.
I had to laugh when Rob admitted to feeling something of a bond with the fly egg as it grew in his skin. “At least, I felt like I was nurturing a separate life form…” he said. You’ve gotta love that sentiment.
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