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CUP book

Six-legged Ghosts: The insects of Aotearoa

09 January 2024

By Lily Duval


April 2024
296pp, full colour, casebound
250 x 190mm
ISBN: 978-1-98-850343-1

Why isn’t Aotearoa famous for its insects? We have wētā that can survive being frozen, weevils with ‘snouts’ almost as long as their bodies, and the world’s only alpine cicadas.

There is mounting evidence that insect numbers are plummeting all over the world. But the insect apocalypse isn’t just a faraway problem – it’s also happening here in Aotearoa. In recent years, we have lost a number of our native insects to extinction and many more are teetering on the brink.

Without insects, the world is in trouble. Insects are our pollinators, waste removers and ecosystem engineers – they are vital for a healthy planet. So why don’t more people care about the fate of the tiny but mighty six-legged beings that shape our world?

Richly illustrated, and including more than 100 original paintings by the author, Six-legged Ghosts: The insects of Aotearoa examines the art, language, stories and science of insects in Aotearoa and around the world. From te ao Māori to the medieval art world, from museum displays to stories of the insect apocalypse, extinction and conservation, Lily Duval explores the lives of insects not only in Aotearoa’s natural environments, but in our cultures and histories as well.

Lily Duval is an author and illustrator passionate about the natural world. She illustrated Critters of Aotearoa: 50 bizarre but lovable members of our wildlife community, which was chosen as a Storylines Notable Book in 2023. She writes and illustrates for a range of organisations, including the Department of Conservation, Forest & Bird and Conservation Volunteers New Zealand. Lily has been the researcher and writer for RNZ’s ‘Critter of the Week’ show since 2021 and is part of the organising team for the Bug of the Year competition. She has a Master of Arts (Distinction) in English Literature from the University of Canterbury. Lily lives in Ōhinehou Lyttelton and spends her free time gardening and tramping.

Six-legged Ghosts is published with the support of Creative New Zealand.

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