Thursday, 27 January 2022

Book Review - The Social Wasps of North America - Owlfly Publishing

 


     This is a remarkable book on many levels. Who would have thought that an entire volume would be devoted to social wasps? How many people even know of social wasps?
     In a large leap of faith, Chris Alice Kratzer, fuelled by her own passion for these insects, set about to write and illustrate the first field guide to social wasps, and the result is an informative, richly illustrated work that will become a must-have book for anyone with even a passing interest in wasps.
     The first seventy-two pages provide a wealth of information on everything from anatomy to ecology to taxonomy to conservation, ending with a 'How to use this guide' section. 
     What follows is a stunning portrayal of every species in North America, which for the purposes  of this guide encompasses Greenland, the Caribbean and Central America. The artwork covers the variations and castes for each species, in exquisite detail, with a concise description and range map. It boggles the mind to contemplate that all of this was done by one person - and a twenty-five year old mechanical engineer at that. It took a thousand hours to finish the work, on top of a thousand hours already invested in research.
     The work draws heavily on the internet platform iNaturalist and the illustrations are based on photographs found there, with consent granted by, and full credit given to, each contributor. In fact, we first were apprised of the work in progress when permission was sought to use a picture taken by my wife, Miriam Bauman.) 
     Here is her contribution on Page 161.


     There is an extensive glossary, a tool I always find very useful, and a comprehensive bibliography.
      It is almost poignant (yet nonetheless brave) to note that the author felt it important to draw attention to her membership in the LGBT+ community.  Perhaps in the not too distant future, we will embrace the day when such affiliations are no longer noteworthy and the only thing that will matter is the calibre of the book.
     I am happy to say that I have had the chance now to pore over it for several days, and each time I open the pages it gets better.
     Bravo Chris Alice Kratzer!

The Social Wasps of North America - Owlfly Publishing
Author: Chris Alice Kratzer
US$24.99 - 6 x 9 inches (15 x 22.5 cm) - 424 pages - 900 full colour illustrations
ISBN  9781737892700
Published: 8 January 2022
     
David M. Gascoigne,
David M. Gascoigne,

I'm a life long birder. My interests are birds, nature, reading, books, outdoors, travel, food and wine.

58 comments:

  1. I'm embarrassed to say, David, but I don't know what a social wasp is. I know that wasps sting painfully, often live next door to people. In my garden, wasps built their nests in an old barn, and when I sat down to eat outdoors, they tried to eat from my plate. Are they social?

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    1. Yesssss, this is nature.

      Be thankful for this. The question is How long could we safe them! They are necessary and good, I believe it with all my heart.

      It seems a wonderful book, David ... thank you for sharing.

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  2. I guess we don't think of wasps as being "social." Mostly they seem quite antisocial! But, of course, many do live in colonies and they are very interesting critters. This book sounds like it does them justice.

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  3. Another beautiful book I would love to pour over. I wish I had a good climate controlled space I could keep books here, otherwise they mildew so quickly.

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  4. A very interesting book. In my garden, in the good season, there are many wasps. You won't believe but I often give them a bit of marmalade on a dish and I enjoy to see them flying around me. Often I also rescue them from the water where they risk to drown.

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  5. That owl banner is a dazzler and a real beauty. What a wonderful shot.

    You really do remarkable nature book reviews. Even books I wouldn't be likely to read sound interesting in your words!

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  6. I admire her passion and her dedication. Like you, I am very sad that she feels the need to identify her tribe. I do hope that the day is dawning when that is no longer necessary. At all.

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  7. I never heard of a social wasp, sounds like a good read. I love your new header, the owl is absolutely beautiful.

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  8. Admittedly, I too did not know about social wasps, David, but just the same this book won't be on my reading list, which in no way is a comment meant to disparage the book or its author. Wasps have always been my nemesis and somehow whenever I have been near one, they've seemed to fly in my direction. Each of us has his/her own avoidances and wasps of any type are mine.

    I so agree with your end comment that hopefully in future it will not be necessary to include affiliations of any type.

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  9. I didn't know there were social wasps. Live and learn. :-)

    Did you hear about the Bald Eagle that was spotted hunting in Central Park, New York City? Yay! (From the photo I saw, it almost looked like it had a leg band on.)

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  10. This sounds like an interesting read if you are interested in social wasps. Thanks for the review, David.

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  11. Love the new heADER, so gorgeous! I can't really bring up much enthusiasm for a book about wasps, but I'm glad you enjoyed it! Have a great day, hugs, Valerie

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  12. I have never heard of them either, David. Last summer we got a terrible wasp here who eats bees. I do not like wasps at all.
    Hugs and kisses, Marit

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  13. I also did not know about social wasps David. Never to old to learn. Love the Towny Owl in the header. Great photo!
    Regards,
    Roos

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  14. Sounds like a fabulous book on wasps.

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  15. Hello David, :=) A good review about social wasps, although I'm not quite sure what they are, all I know is that some wasps eat from my plate, I put a small piece of meat at the edge of my plate and they fly away with it. I also rescue these same wasps from the pool, just as my husband used to do, and neither he or I have ever been stung. I'll have to look up about social wasps, but although I respect, and am interested about all insects, this book is not for me.
    Take care, sending hugs from Portugal.

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    1. Your environmental ethic makes me very happy, Sonjia. Hugs from a cold and snowy Ontario.

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  16. This sounds fascinating, David. Good review.

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  17. Nice to read your review. Close encounters, no.

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  18. First of all, that is a fantastic new header David. What a handsome barred owl. I went back today to the beach where I saw the snowy owl hoping for another glimpse, but other than a brief glance of the harrier and some loons, it was a quiet day. This book is a work of love. Wasps are interesting and I imagine so many are sprayed to death when they build their homes on houses. Hope it's not too cold in Ontario right now. hugs-Erika

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  19. I must admit I jump when a bee or wasp comes near, especially wasps. Once I got stung by a bee, oh, did that hurt.
    But then, no bees, no strawberries on my balcony, no honey.
    There is more than one The Simpsons-episode on these insects.
    Sad the author has to mention LGBT+. It should be accepted as normal by now, but guess it never will. It´s still a hard life in so many aspects.
    On our last Christopher Street Day parade (ages ago!) an eldery man cheered happily, then asked me what this is about. On my answer he looked as if someone had puked on him and went away. Sad.

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  20. I had never heard of social wasps before, so this review was really quite thought provoking and enjoyable to read. I was intrigued by the paper wasps, which I actually HAVE heard of before. Thanks for the great review.

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  21. From your review, David, it is clear that this is an excellent and admirable work. However, I'm sure that you will understand that, for geographical reasons, it will not be one for me.

    Best wishes - stay safe - - - - Richard

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    1. What! You mean you don't wish to learn every detail and nuance of North American wasps? For shame!

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  22. I love your new blog picture of the owl. I think the patterns on its head are beautiful. It seems so docile. It has so few shades of colour - grey, brown and white but it is a magnificent bird. I never thought of wasps as social insects, only nasty ones as I got stung by one on my thigh but it ended will - I got a medical and sent home from work to rest!!

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    1. I have been stung a few times by wasps, and it hurts!

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  23. ...a group that I don't understand well.

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  24. This is interesting. I've never thought of wasps as social, but now I'm wondering if that designation is akin to the difference between bees that live in hives, and our native bees who nest individually. This isn't a book I'd buy, but it is one I'll put on my wait list at the library, or request if it isn't in the system. What a pleasure for Miriam, too; it's lovely that her work was included in the book.

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  25. That's great that Miriam's photo was used! Your cover photo of the owl is spectacular- the detail is amazing.

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  26. All insects seem to be on a huge tip.

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  27. Hi David! I love the photo of the owl for your blog header! That's so gorgeous, one of the best photos I've seen from you! (Or did Miriam take it?) Beautiful. That's great that Miriam's photo was used for the book!

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  28. David this is a wonderful book review. Thank you.

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  29. Buenas tardes amigo David, un libro que por tu reseña se aprecia un excelente trabajo amigo mío.
    Tu foto nueva de portada es una maravilla, me encanta, seguro que la realizó nuestra amiga y querida Miriam, felicidades, de nuestra parte por tan bella instantánea.
    Un gran abrazo de tu siempre amigo y compadre Juan.

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  30. Encore un livre qui soit être très intéressant!
    Bon weekend

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  31. Many thanks for the information on this book.
    How good that Miriam's photograph was used.

    I love your new header, the Barred Owl is just magnificent.

    All the best Jan

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  32. Hello David,
    First I must mention your Barred Owl header photo is beautiful. Thanks for the great book review on the Social Wasps, they are new to me. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend. PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

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  33. Beautiful book David, I like your header of the owl. Happy weekend!

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  34. How interesting. We saw a Red Wasp yesterday on our hike and it was moving very slowly. We've had some cold nights and it was feeling the cold!

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  35. PS I am in love with your owl banner too! WOW! It's gorgeous!

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  36. A very interesting book.
    Congratulations to Miriam for the photo that allowed the illustration.

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  37. Otro libro que me encantaría tener, me gustan todos los insectos. La foto de Miriam muy buena. Un abrazo amigo David.

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  38. The book cover looks beautiful and I am judging the book by its cover 😀

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    1. The cover is worth the price of the book - it's that good.

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  39. Oh, for a minute I envisioned white people at a cocktail party (Social WASPs).

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    1. Very good! And they sting in their own way don't they?

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  40. Hello David,
    A fantastic book to have!
    Stay warm!!
    Marijke

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  41. It's always a pleasure visiting from your link shared. Thanks. And happy birding!

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  42. Interesante para saber más de estos bichitos que al verlos huimos de ellos.
    Que paséis un buen domingo David.
    Un abrazo.

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  43. Hi David - how wonderful they've used one of Miriam's photos in their book - or should I say Chris Alice Kratzer's book ... talk about dedication - incredible. I used to love the paper wasp nests that were released in the autumn to float about when I was up in Canada. We are lucky there are so many dedicated people out there ... and once again congratulations to Miriam - cheers Hilary

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  44. Hello dear David,
    social wasps!!!??? I've never heard of that, but I doubt it. I think that these kinds of books only offer more material and we can learn a lot from them (even if the author has taken a trip to another theme). A book for many nature lovers.
    Big hug to you,
    Helma

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  45. Wasps are not one of my favourite critters! :)

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    1. I am sure there are many who share the same sentiment, Lee.

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