“The Insects of Australia and New Zealand,”
560 xi pp. Angus & Robertson, Ltd., Sydney. Price 42/-.
Since the publication some years ago of Mr. G. V. Hudson's “New Zealand Neuroptera,” “New Zealand Moths and Butterflies,” and “Manual of New Zealand Entomology,” and Mr. W. W. Grogatt's “Australian Insects.” Dr. Tillyard's “Insects of Australia and New Zealand” is the first comprehensive work on Australasian entomology to be published.
Dr. Tillyard's book consists of 560 pages with numerous illustra-tions. There are 30 chapters and two appendices. The first four chapters, covering 45 pages, are devoted to classification, morphology and life-history. Chapters 5–28 comprise the bulk of the book, each of these chapters being devoted to the discussion of 24 orders. Chapter 29 deals with palaeontology and origin of Australian insects, while chapter 30 is devoted to methods for collecting and preserving insects. The first appendix is a glossary and the second a key to author's names. The whole closes with a fairly extensive index.
A noticeable feature is that of the 475 text figures, 456 are original, while of the 44 full page plates, 27 are photo-graphic, 9 wash drawings, and 8 are in colour, all but one of the plates being original. The illustrations are the work of Dr. Tillyard himself and five others. The text figures on the whole are excellent for interpreting group characters, though some are not specifically accurate. For instance, in fig. R 83, important structural characters of the rostrum are not shown. Fig. R 62 does not feature the larva of Prionoplus reticularis accurately, the anal segment being particularly noticeable in this respect. In fig. W 56 the thoracic chaetotaxy (of systematic importance) has been drawn without suffi-cient consideration of its arrangement. The detailed labelling of the drawings is a commendable feature and one usually overlooked by most book writers. Through an oversight figures R 83 and R 84 have been transposed. The plates are good with the exception of the photo-graphs of certain species which lack detail, a very difficult object to attain with many insects. It might be pointed out (see p. 368) that Syrphus viridiceps occurs in New Zealand as well as in Australia; and in Ichneutica (p. 442) there are seven species in New Zealand, not only two as stated.
In the classification 24 orders are characterized, and a table shows that of the world's total insect population of 490,000 species 37,000 occur in Australia and 8,000 in New Zeland. The account of mor-phology and life history is brief but very much to the point, especially from the systematist's viewpoint, and forms the basis for an under-standing of the characters of individual orders discussed further on in the book. With regard to wing-venation, though the classical attempt by Comstock and Needham to homologize the venational variations of the Pterygota went a long way to solve the problem,
there were left many fundamental difficulties. Dr. Tillyard has been able, from his recent studies of fossil insects, to throw light upon many debatable points. He has put forward a feasible scheme on the homologies of the more intricate venational variations, at the same time showing more definitely the relationship of, and lines of evolution followed by, the different insect orders. Though the general scheme of classification followed in the book is that generally accepted, the author has made an interesting regroup-ing of orders and families according to the results of his extensive studies of palaentology and evolution.
In the chapter on life-history an agreeable feature is the dropping of the term “nymph” as applied to the larvae of hemimetabolous insects. The information summarized in this chapter is sufficient for the purposes of the book, which deals mainly with adult character-istics; but references here to figures, wherever they occur illustrating immature stages in late chapters, would have been helpful to the student.
In the 24 chapters dealing with orders, a definite system is adhered to throughout. Each order is discussed according to characters, life-history, distribution, fossil history, economics and distribution. The economic aspect is not stressed and, as is pointed out in the preface, the book is not one on economic entomology, but rather on classifica-tion and morphology, a fundamental knowledge of which is essential to the student. The information in these chapters is very great and of the utmost value, being a well-digested summary of information a great deal of which is original. Keys are given to enable the student to place an insect, in its family at least; and of great assistance are the tables comparing the different venational terminology of each order with the author's amended system.
In the 29th chapter dealing with fossils Dr. Tillyard through his palaeontological researches has brought to light a vast amount of valuable information and so has filled in gaps in the fossil record.