Thursday, April 7, 2011

What to Expect When You're Expecting Larvae

A few years back I wrote a kid's book called The Most Extreme Bugs. One of the chapters featured bug parents, so I know a fair amount about insects and their reproductive issues. Even so, What to Expect When You're Expecting Larvae surprised me with a few facts. For instance:

 * An oil beetle lays 1,000 or so eggs on the stems of flowers. When the eggs hatch, they climb aboard the legs of passing bees. Back in the hive they chomp on the food meant for bee larvae as well as the larvae themselves.

* Beetle larvae were once called bookworms because they resided inside old books, feasting on glue made from animal products. Today's books use plastic glue so bookworms aren't a problem.

What to Expect When You're Expecting Larvae presents information on bug parenthood in a clear and accessible way. What's more, it's fun to read, so kids will actually want to pick up a copy. The book is set up in a traditional question-and-answer format, except it's the bug mother-to-be doing the asking. Questions include: "Where should I lay my eggs?" "How many babies will I have?" "Will anything eat my larvae?" and the all important "How will I keep my babies safe?"

The pithy answers are conversational and kid-friendly. For instance, when talking about how quickly larvae develop, the author compares a hornworm caterpillar, which can multiply its weight by ten thousand in sixteen days, to a human baby. For a baby to grow as fast "it would soon weigh eighty thousand pounds--as much as seven elephants!" The accompanying illustration shows a giant baby on an old-fashioned scale. BTW--The cartoon-style illustrations are as much fun as the text.

I highly recommend this book to budding entomologists, as well as to any insects contemplating parenthood. Just please don't hatch your offspring in my house!

Also reviewed at Patchwork of Books 
Interview with Briget Heos at Just Kidding 

What to Expect When You're Expecting Larvae:
A Guide for Insect Parents (and Curious Kids)
by Bridget Heos
illustrations by Stephane Jorisch
Millbrook Press, 32 pages
Published: April 2011
Reviewed from ARC


  1. This might be the best book title I have seen this year. I wish I was that clever. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Hi, Catherine. Coincidentally, we are learning about the life cycle of lice in our household this week--but we are doing this first-hand, rather than from a book. This book looks super neat, though, and I'm sure my girls would be especially interested now. May have to check this one out!

  3. So funny! When I was pregnant with my first child, I read "What to Expect When You're Expecting" like it was my bible! My 3rd graders do a unit on bugs, so this would be a great addition to that- and I love nonfiction that is funny!
    Thanks for participating in Book Talk Tuesday!

  4. Hi Kelly, yes, I've been there too. Lice are no picnic. How I remember picking nits out of my daughter's long hair with a steel comb. Fun times.