It’s January, and in many regions there is less to do in the yard. Days are short, plants lay dormant, and a layer of snow might even cover the landscape. Insects are also overwintering – some in the leaf litter, some underground, and others even rely on a blanket of snow to insulate them. (Insects can be cozy too!)
This is the perfect time of year to read, study, and plan for the spring and summer seasons. The Xerces Society’s pesticide prevention team put together some of our favorite books for readers interested in learning more about invertebrate conservation and alternative pest control, as well as books that touch on the wonder of the natural world. We even added a few favorites for kids! Hopefully these keep you company until you emerge in the spring.
Alternative pest control, natural enemies and resilient gardens
- Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: a Natural Approach to Pest Control, by Jessica Walliser
A favorite book of one of our staff members, it ties together home landscape management with invertebrate conservation. It has a beautiful layout, tons of photos, generous profiles of great plants and great bugs, interesting facts, and anecdotes about the author’s evolution as a horticulturist and entomologist.
- Carrots Love Tomatoes, by Louise Riotte
Learn how to have your vegetable garden be more resilient by better understanding how plants work together in a system.
- Farming With Native Beneficial Insects, by the Xerces Society.
Useful for growers and home gardeners alike, this book is filled with information on different types of beneficial insects and strategies to conserve them in your landscape.
- Smarter Pest Management: Protecting Pollinators at Home, by the Xerces Society
Only have a few minutes of time? This Xerces Society factsheet provides a quick overview of the risks pesticides pose to pollinators and steps you can take to protect these species at home.
- A Sting in the Tale, by Dave Goulson. This is a must-read for fans of bumblebees.
- The Solitary Bees: Biology, Evolution, Conservation, by Bryan Danforth. A deeply informative book on the life history, evolution, and biology of the different groups of solitary bees, including great tidbits on interesting diets and nesting habits.
- Chasing Monarchs, by Robert Michael Pyle (founder of the Xerces Society). Through vibrant storytelling, Bob shares monarch butterfly lives, threats and what we need to know to cherish and help conserve them.
- Iwígara: American Indian Ethnobotanical Traditions and Science, by Enrique Salmón. This beautifully illustrated and annotated reference book profiles the traditional indigenous uses, meaning, and key identifiers for eighty North American plants.
- Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer. “Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass—offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices.”
- Nature's Best Hope and The Nature of Oaks, by Doug Tallamy. Two wonderful books by a leading voice in at-home conservation. The first outlines how we can create habitat in yards, and the second sheds light on the critical role oaks play in our ecosystems, including how valuable they are for butterfly conservation.
- The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben. You'll never walk through the forest in the same way again. After reading this book, you will have a whole new level of respect for trees and the systems they are a part of.
- Some Bugs, by Angela DiTerlizzi, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel. A joyous and fun introduction to the oh-so-fascinating world of insects, encouraging young readers to explore their own backyards.
- Hush Little Baby, by Sylvia Long. This children's book is a sweet introduction to the wonders of nature.
- I Love Bugs! by Philemon Sturges, illustrated by Shari Halpern. Simple text and clear illustrations of familiar and beautiful bugs make this a favorite for even the youngest readers.