Test Cover Image of:  The Hot-Blooded Insects

The Hot-Blooded Insects

Strategies and Mechanisms of Thermoregulation

Author Information


Bernd Heinrich is Professor Emeritus of Biology at the University of Vermont. He has written several memoirs of his life in science and nature, including One Man’s Owl, and Ravens in Winter. Bumblebee Economics was twice a nominee for the American Book Award in Science, and A Year in the Maine Woods won the 1995 Rutstrum Authors’ Award for Literary Excellence.


Bernd Heinrich has been a seminal figure in the developing field of insect thermoregulatory physiology...His latest work...is a comprehensive survey of current knowledge of insect thermoregulation, solidly based in the primary literature...[It] is an impressive and important contribution...Heinrich's stated goals were to provide a comprehensive synthesis and review of the literature and to encourage additional research. It's obvious that he also wanted to convey his fascination and delight in the diversity, sophistication, and elegance of insect thermoregulatory mechanisms, and in this he has succeeded admirably.

In this, his latest in a string of impressive books, Bernd Heinrich succeeds nobly in interpreting insect thermoregulation. As huge endotherms, we humans have little appreciation for the temperature challenges that confront a small-bodied insect. As an insect moves from shade to sunshine and back again, the temperature of his small body can swing wildly in just a few minutes. When it's too cold, shivering may be required to generate heat for flight, but at other times the challenge is too much heat and how to dissipate it quickly. These are the types of problems that the book addresses. An impressive literature on insect thermoregulation has accumulated over the past 20 years, thanks in large part to the author's own keen observations and experiments. However, this book is not a mere compilation of data extracted from the literature, but a thought-provoking and critical evaluation of articles published on this subject. Heinrich's intellectual savvy is apparent as he carefully identifies the key issues and skillfully debunks and number of ideas that pervade the literature...The book is written in a style that makes it easy for a nonspecialist to comprehend, yet contains enough depth for the most serious of scholars. Heinrich conveys the type of intense excitement that thrust many of us into entomological careers in the first place. Hot-Blooded Insects comes alive with the identification of key workers and their institutions; it is replete with splendid illustrations, including many of the author's own sketches.

Both scientist and naturalist, the author combines technical information with delicate sketches and philosophical discussions. Destined to become the benchmark for future insect physiology texts.

The Hot-Blooded Insects is an outstanding source of information, and can be read with profit and satisfaction by the professional biologist and interested amateur alike.

This book is destined to become the definitive text on insect thermoregulation: there is not competition, and it is so comprehensive and thoughtful that it is doubtful that any successor will soon be forthcoming.


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Edition: Reprint 2014
Audience: Professional and scholarly;