27 JUNE 1896, Page 10

Insect Life : a Short Account of the Classification and

Habits of Insects. By Fred W. Theobald, M.A., F.E.S. With numerous illustrations. (Methuen and Co.)—The little book before us is intended, as the author tells us in his preface, to give "a con- densed account of the more important characteristics of insects, dealing with their economic importance at the same time." The second object has been fairly well attained, a good deal of infor- mation being given with respect to injurious insects, and the best means of coping with their ravages. But to popularise scientific work is very difficult, and requires much experience and judg- ment. This is especially noticeable in the definitions of the orders of insects, the characters given being often ambiguous, as whore the elytra of Coleoptera are said to " fold over" the wings, the true character being that they usually meet in a straight suture down the middle of the back ; or where the wings of the Neuroptera are said to be "nearly equal in size," a character wholly inapplicable to many large sections, such as the Epheme- riche. Unusual terms, too, are introduced ; thus, the animal kingdom is said to be divided into two "sub-kingdoms," the Vertebrata and Invertebrate ; and the clypeua of insects is called the " nose." Nevertheless, we think that Mr. Theobald's book will be found useful to beginners, if used in conjunction with other books, which may serve to check its often incomplete, and occasionally, we fear, erroneous, information.