Due to their vast adaptive radiation, insects have demonstrated ecological principles better than any other animal group. In fact, their biotic and abiotic interactions, ranging from simple through to complex and sophisticated, have provided models on which many ecological principles are based. All this has also been the reason why numerous textbooks specifically dedicated to insect ecology (e.g. Price 1997; Speight et al. 1999; Schowalter 2000) have been produced over the years, thereby elevating insect ecology as a distinct science.
South Africans live in a geologically fascinating environment yet most people living here know very little of the physical environment around them. To date much of what is known of geology is described in dense academic texts with their own scientific language making it very inaccessible to the lay reader. This new book by Terence McCarthy of the School of Geosciences at the University of the Witwatersrand addresses an important need by providing answers to common questions that anyone who has travelled the country would like answered without becoming lost in technological jargon. It is not just a description of geological processes but draws on many fields to provide integrated informative answers to the questions posed.
Until recently the two standard reference works that included information on the insect pests of vegetables in South Africa were Annecke & Moran's Insects and Mites of Cultivated Plants in South Africa, published some 30 years ago, and Crop Pests in Southern Africa, a series of five booklets that appeared between 1986 and 1990. Both of these have been out of print for many years and Diedrich Visser's new, up-to-date guide could thus not have been produced at a more opportune time. A Complete Guide to Vegetable Pests in South Africa is a follow-up on his highly popular Guide to Potato Pests and their Natural Enemies in South Africa, published in 2005. The author set himself the onerous task of providing detailed information and high-quality macro-photographs of all vegetable pests in South Africa, in addition to an up-to-date list of all species likely to be encountered on vegetables in the country.