Sex on Six Legs
Lessons on Life, Love, and Language from the Insect World
By Marlene Zuk
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151013739, 272pp.)
Publication Date: July 20, 2011
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Insects have inspired fear, fascination, and enlightenment for centuries. They are capable of incredibly complex behavior, even with brains often the size of a poppy seed. How do they accomplish feats that look like human activity— personality, language, childcare—with completely different pathways from our own? What is going on inside the mind of those ants that march like boot-camp graduates across your kitchen floor? How does the lead ant know exactly where to take her colony, to that one bread crumb that your nightly sweep missed? Can insects be taught new skills as easily as your new puppy?
Sex on Six Legs is a startling and exciting book that provides answers to these questions and many more. With the humor of Olivia Judson’s Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation, Zuk not only examines the bedroom lives of creepy crawlies but also calls into question some of our own longheld assumptions about learning, the nature of personality, and what our own large brains might be for.
MARLENE ZUK is a professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside, where she studies behavior in a variety of animals. She has written articles for numerous publications including the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.
Everything you wanted to know about bug sex (but didn't bother to ask) is explained in a new book. Insect expert Marlene Zuk describes how ants learn, why some crickets don't chirp and how various bugs mate in Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love and Language from the Insect World. More at NPR.org
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Sex on Six Legs "waxes exuberant [on insects] over nine consistently delightful chapters... [Zuk is] wry, mischievous and conversational. The book can be unsettling at times, but it persistently aroused in this reviewer a wriggling, six-legs-up delight."
--New York Times Book Review
"Smart, engaging...Zuk approaches her subject with such humor and enthusiasm for the intricacies of insect life, even bug-phobes will relish her account."
- Publishers Weekly, starred
-Booklist "A global sampling of the clever lives and loves of our six-legged friends. Zuk's chapters, particularly on social insects, are rich in examples... Plenty of intriguing questions to ponder as Zuk informs adults in a droll style that may also turn on younger readers. After all, entomology is still a field that can begin, as it did for her, with venturing into the yard to collect stuff in a glass jar."
-Kirkus Reviews "Incest, democracy, tyranny, sexual cannibalism: insects have them all, and more. In Sex on Six Legs, Marlene Zuk gives insects, the animal kingdom's unseen majority, their full, marvelous due."
-Carl Zimmer, author of The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution and A Planet of Viruses