[Sverdrup-Thygeson's] fun little book is so stuffed with jewels that it’s tempting to make this entire review a simple list of them... That would be unfair, though, because there is more to Extraordinary Insects than a list of facts... Her enthusiasm is infectious and whether it’s her writing or the translation — the book was originally published in Norwegian — the tone is almost unrelentingly happy and upbeat; as you read, you can just picture her lecturing her students with unstoppable Scandinavian positivity... It’s not a perfect book. Some of the facts seem a bit shoehorned in — it didn’t seem super-important to mention that a small study found that keeping crickets as a pet improved self-reported mental health in elderly Koreans. And the bite-size nature of the book lends it to dipping into, rather than reading in long sittings. (It would be, and I mean this as a compliment, ideal for your downstairs loo.) If you want to spend a few hours glorying in the unconsidered world of insects, and marvelling at a new fact every page or two (a species of fruit fly has sperm that is 6cm long, 20 times as long as the body of the fly), then Extraordinary Insects is a joy.
She has a serious purpose, and succeeds magnificently. I said that insects needed a champion. In a sense that was true. Insects are having a hard time. In Germany, the insect biomass has decreased by 75 per cent over the last thirty years. That’s a worry. But it’s far more worrying for us than for the insects. They’ll survive. But if we reduce their numbers much more, we’ll accelerate our own demise.