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Nature Insects & Spiders

Of Cockroaches and Crickets

Learning to Love Creatures That Skitter and Jump

by (author) Frank Nischk

translated by Jane Billinghurst

foreword by Carl Safina

Greystone Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Feb 2023
Insects & Spiders, Ecology, Entomology
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2023
    List Price

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This deep dive into the wonderful world of insects teaches us to love the tiny, seemingly terrifying creatures all around us.

For many people, cockroaches are the most pesky of pests. Not so for entomologist Frank Nischk. In this funny and fascinating book, Frank reveals his love and admiration for so-called "nasty" creatures like cockroaches, crickets, and more. He shows us that even seemingly terrifying insects are beautiful in their own way—and essential to all life on Earth.

Frank never planned to study cockroaches. But when researching hummingbirds fell through, he switched to cockroach feces—and soon fell in love. Cockroaches are incredible survivors, devoted parents, and adapt to almost any environment. Nischk even answers the age-old question of whether a cockroach would survive a nuclear explosion. After reading such eye-opening and warm-hearted stories, you will think twice before stepping on one!

From cockroaches to crickets, Nischk travels to Ecuador to record cricket sounds, where he finds jungles bursting with a riot of insect life (including bullet ants whose stings are surprisingly painful). As Nischk narrates his (mis)adventures as an entomologist, he shares stories about intriguing insect discoveries, from damselflies who lay eggs deep underwater, to zombie fungi that invade the brains of ants. Brimming with fascinating facts, incredible stories, and unbelievable anecdotes, Of Cockroaches and Crickets will intrigue anyone who has ever loved—or hated!—bugs.

About the authors

Frank Nischk's profile page

Jane Billinghurst holds an M.A. in German and Philosophy from Oxford University and is the author of numerous nonfiction books, including Temptress: From the Original Bad Girls to Women on Top. She is also an editor and has been the director of Simon Fraser University's Summer Book Editing Workshop. She lives in Anacortes, Washington, where she can often be found tending her foxgloves and forget-me-nots or relaxing in a garden chair.

Jane Billinghurst's profile page

Ecologist and author Carl Safina explores how humans are changing the living world, and what those changes mean for wild places and for human and other beings. His work connects broad scientific understanding with a moral call to action. His writing has won the MacArthur “genius” prize; Pew and Guggenheim Fellowships; book awards from Lannan, Orion, and the National Academies; and the John Burroughs, James Beard, and George Rabb medals. Safina hosted the 10-part PBS series, Saving the Ocean With Carl Safina. He holds the Endowed Chair for Nature and Humanity at Stony Brook University and is founder of the not-for-profit Safina Center. He lives on Long Island, New York with his wife Patricia and their dogs and feathered friends. Carl’s most recent book is Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace.

Carl Safina's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Creepy and captivating... This makes a persuasive case that the 'smaller the world we can see, the bigger our world becomes.'
Publishers Weekly

"In playful prose and resplendent detail, Frank Nischk's Of Cockroaches and Crickets pays homage to that much-denigrated class of animals whose existence is essential to the future of our planet. Each chapter takes readers on a journey into the unseen worlds of our six-legged cousins to reveal stories of hope and resilience in the face of unprecedented environmental challenges."
—Edward D. Melillo, author of The Butterfly Effect: Insects and the Making of the Modern World

"Nischk's writing is compelling to the point that the reader will be checking to see that this is indeed a non-fiction book. A perfect blend of memoir, philosophy, and scientific fact, Of Cockroaches and Crickets is a grand tour of both the jungle and the scientific mind. Honest, enlightening, and hopeful."
—Eric R. Eaton, author of Insectpedia: A Brief Compendium of Insect Lore

"I loved joining Frank Nischk on his wildlife adventures in this thoroughly readable and hopeful book. His writing is a poignant combination of infectious enthusiasm and deep and justified concern about insects' dwindling presence in the third millennium."
—Jonathan Balcombe, author of Super Flyand What a Fish Knows

"Frank Nischk takes us on a delightful safari into the fascinating lives of cockroaches and crickets. Through stories and adventures he makes these creatures lovable in their own ways, while revealing the importance of insects in enriching our lives and very survival."
—Justin Schmidt, author of The Sting of the Wild

"This fine book will indeed cause you to reassess your stance toward roaches and other six-leggeds as you follow the author on his rollicking rainforest path from eager grad student to successful filmmaker while never losing his fascination for all things insect. Along with all the fun, and it is, Nischk documents the loss of diversity in ways we haven't even considered—but instead of simply lamenting the much-vaunted 'insect apocalypse,' he shows us powerful examples of what's being done about it around the world. A smooth and breezy read, Of Cockroaches and Crickets taught me much about my own field!"
—Robert Michael Pyle, PhD, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, Fellow of the American Entomological Society, founder of the Xerces Society, author of Chasing Monarchs and Mariposa Road

"Nischk, an entertaining storyteller, has written a fascinating and oftentimes funny account of his many insect-related discoveries and adventures."

Other titles by Jane Billinghurst

Our Little Farm

Adventures in Sustainable Living

by (author) Peter Wohlleben & Miriam Wohlleben
translated by Jane Billinghurst

The Power of Trees

How Ancient Forests Can Save Us if We Let Them

by (author) Peter Wohlleben
edited and translated by Jane Billinghurst

What's Wild Outside Your Door?

Discovering Nature in the City

by (author) Peter Wohlleben
edited and translated by Jane Billinghurst

The Secret Network of Nature

Trees, Animals, and the Extraordinary Balance of All Living Things— Stories from Science and Observation

by (author) Peter Wohlleben
translated by Jane Billinghurst

Forest Walking

Discovering the Trees and Woodlands of North America

by (author) Peter Wohlleben & Jane Billinghurst

The Heartbeat of Trees

Embracing Our Ancient Bond with Forests and Nature

by (author) Peter Wohlleben
translated by Jane Billinghurst

Ancient Bones

Unearthing the Astonishing New Story of How We Became Human

by (author) Madelaine Böhme, Rüdiger Braun & Florian Breier
translated by Jane Billinghurst
foreword by David R. Begun


Finding Beauty in the Fiercest Season

by (author) Bernd Brunner
foreword by Mark Kurlansky
translated by Jane Billinghurst

The Secret Wisdom of Nature

Trees, Animals, and the Extraordinary Balance of All Living Things -— Stories from Science and Observation

by (author) Peter Wohlleben
translated by Jane Billinghurst

Papa Goose

One Year, Seven Goslings, and the Flight of My Life

by (author) Michael Quetting
foreword by Stacey O'Brien
translated by Jane Billinghurst

Other titles by Carl Safina