Publication date May 6th 2010.

The production of Bugs Britannica is now in its final stages and the book will be in the shops by early May. It is also available online, priced £35 with substantial reductions in some venues. We are very pleased with the result which has 500 colour illustrated pages and is, we think, a worthy successor to Flora Britannica and Birds Britannica, also still available at the same price.

In closing this blog, the authors and publishers thank our many helpers and contributors who have enlivened the book with fascinating personal encounters with the invertebrate world. Whether or not your stories, anecdotes, poems and pictures appear in the book, we are grateful for them all. Together they indicate that the ongoing relationship of the British and their bugs is based not simply, as in times past, on whether we find them useful or harmful. We have developed a sympathy for other lives and a concern for the shrinking space we can spare for wild land in a crowded island. Your stories also tell of the constant pleasure we take from watching insects, whether it is enjoying the sight of dragonflies hawking over the garden pond, or moths arriving on a brightly lit sheet, or simply hearing the comforting hum of bees on a warm summer afternoon.

We hope you enjoy the book as much as we did in compiling it.

Peter Marren.

What is Bugs Britannica about?

Female Stag Beetle (Lucanus Cervus)Bugs Britannica will be a nationwide chronicle of bug life in the 21st century. It will look at why bugs matter to us and why we care about them. It will record our continuing love-hate relationship with small life and how it influences our life and times, in a word, our culture. We want to find out what meaning we attach to bugs, what uses and entertainments we have made of them, how they inspire us whether in poetry, prose, film or song, and what we do to attract and conserve them.

Bugs Britannica will be the third in a trilogy of books about the relationships between the human and the plant and animal world. It all began with Flora Britannica by Richard Mabey, which explored and recorded the role of wild plants in our lives. This was followed by Birds Britannica, by Mark Cocker and Richard Mabey, which documents the remarkable relationship between our much-loved wild birds and us. Bugs Britannica will chart the links between people and invertebrates in the same lively and engaging way. The authors are Peter Marren and Richard Mabey. And, like Flora.B and Birds B, Bugs Britannica will be published by Chatto & Windus.

We want you to help us. We want to know about your encounters with bug life. Do you garden with bugs in mind, perhaps with bee-friendly flowers or a pond? Are there local names or customs involving particular insects or other invertebrates? Have you ever been inspired by bug activity, whether by a spider spinning its web, or a grasshopper chirping in the long grass, or the homely shape and colours of a bumblebee?

Below are some suggestions about the sort of things we will cover in Bugs Britannica.

But first, what’s a Bug?

It’s a convenient word for an invertebrate, that is, an animal without a backbone. For our purposes a bug is an insect (including, of course, true bugs), but also a spider, crustacean (that is, the likes of prawns, crabs and woodlice), a mollusc such as a garden snail or clam, a jellyfish or a sponge, not to mention the vast variety of worm-kind! We are even interested in microscopic animals like water-fleas and amoeba (but not bacteria or viruses). In other words, Bugs Britannica will chart our relationships with all the animals that occur in Britain except beasts, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. And that’s around 35,000 species!

Find out more about bugs