Cover_Insects The Hidden Treasures of Mahausakande

Jayanthi Edirisinghe, Inoka Karunaratne and Roman Prokhorov (Edited by Sriyanie Miththapala)

Ellawala Foundation Trust


ISBN: 9789553451002

Reviewed by Andy Austin

Mahausakande Reserve is a rehabilitated secondary regrowth lowland rainforest located in the Ratnapura District of Sri Lanka, which has been restored from an abandoned rubber plantation over almost two decades by the Ellawala family. This is a fascinating story told through the diversity of insects found in the reserve. Part natural history compendium, part textbook, and part coffee table book this volume will be relevant to anyone with an interest in insects, particularly of Sri Lanka, rainforest conservation, and natural history in general.

The book comprised chapters on the regeneration of the Mahausakande Forest, insect morphology, diversity and ecological importance of insects, followed by chapters on each of the insect orders recorded photographically for groups found in Mahausakande. The text for each order includes a basic description of morphological characteristics, general biology and ecology, including common pest and beneficial species, and the diversity of the group for Sri Lanka. A highlight of the book is the superb full-page colour photographs of many species taken by Roman Prokhorov.

The book unfortunately is not without some errors and drawbacks. For example, in the morphology section it refers to wings being found on the first two thoracic segments; the classification for the Hemiptera is out of date in treating Homoptera as a suborder, while Isoptera is included as a separate order rather than as a group within the Blattodea. The common names for many species are somewhat arbitrary and many photographs are not accompanied by scientific names. This approach is explained in a final section “Notes from the Authors”. However, the inclusion of family names and the grouping of photographs by family would have gone some way to ameliorating this drawback. It is also a pity that references and websites are not included that could have guided the reader who wishes to seek additional information. However, most of these issues do not detract from the merits of this beautifully-presented book, which would be an ideal addition to any library, or for the insect or natural history enthusiast. The book is most easily obtained by emailing the Ellawala Foundation Trust; costing US$50 plus shipping (