LISA MARGONELLI, ONEWORLD, £14.99
Termites are small, but have grand effects. Their biomass in a tropical forest can match that of Serengeti wildebeest, they construct cities of cement and they digest all cellulose, from trees to cowpats. But this book explores more than just their ecology. The boundaries of Margonelli’s interest expand outwards to meet the programmers and roboticists looking to replicate termite building skills that might terraform Mars, and inwards to the geneticists unravelling the insects’ gut biochemistry with a view to creating fuel methane. An eminently readable melange of the termite microcosm.