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Insects of the British Isles guide

FSC Insects of the British Isles guide is a fast reference to the main insect groups on land and water. The guide was written and illustrated by renowned natural history artist Richard Lewington

Avoiding technical jargon, this guide shows you precisely what to look out for. The insect orders include mayflies, dragonflies, stoneflies, alderflies, snakeflies, scorpionflies and true flies. Plus earwigs, cockroaches, grasshoppers, crickets, bees, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths and lacewings. Also included are antlions, silverfish, firebrats, bristletails, thrips, barklice and many others.

Insects are the most successful animals on earth. They live virtually everywhere, from the highest mountains to the hottest deserts. More than a million insect species have been described worldwide, and possibly more than five times that number are still waiting for discovery. We know there are around 24,000 insect species in Britain, with probably many more. We could not survive without insects, as they perform many essential roles. These include recycling organic matter, pollinating plants and in providing food for countless other animals.

Insects have evolved to live in many habitats. They live on and in water, inside houses, and below ground, and of course they are masters of flight. However, despite this diversity they conform to the same successful basic design, with a head, thorax and abdomen, and a tough external skeleton or exoskeleton, and external mouthparts. Most insects begin life as eggs laid singly or in batches, but some insects like aphids are born as young nymphs, often without the female having mated beforehand. As they feed and grow young insects moult their skins often 10 or more times, with each stage known as an instar.