Endless Forms review: Let’s hear it for wasps, says a lively new book

An exuberant and authoritative book puts wasps in their rightful place – at the centre of research, says Simon Ings

Life 25 May 2022

Caption from book: The yellow-legged Asian hornet, Vespa velutina, preys on a wide diversity of insects, including foraging honeybee workers as they arrive back at their hive. Photo taken in Jakarta, Indonesia

A yellow-legged Asian hornet, flying in Jakarta, Indonesia

Lessy Sebastian/EyeEm/Getty Images

Endless Forms: The secret world of wasps

Seirian Sumner

William Collins

“It is almost impossible to walk into a bookshop these days and not bump into a beautiful book about bees,” Seirian Sumner grumbles in her lively and intermittently stomach-churning new book, Endless Forms. The London-based behavioural ecologist has reached “peak bee”. What are bees, anyway, she writes, but wasps that have forgotten how to hunt? The “original bee” was a solitary wasp that turned vegetarian, just as the “first ant” …

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