Pages: 320
Subject: Popular Science
Imprint: Oneworld


An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology

Lisa Margonelli

The strange and surprising power of termites to shape the world
9781786071903 (4 Oct 2018)
RRP £16.99

The Book

With all due respect to bees, the termite is unquestionably the world's most important insect. Without termites, life on earth would essentially evaporate. And yet an individual termite is practically invisible, not to mention wholly reviled by humanity.

For Lisa Margonelli, what begins as a bugtastic obsession becomes an exploration of our future. If we can harness the termite's remarkable ability to remake their environment, will that help us avoid a global food crisis? If we create killer robobugs what happens if the swarms run off script?

A masterpiece of popular science, Underbug touches on everything from metaphysical meditation, technological innovation and the psychology of obsession to good old-fashioned biology.

Additional Information

Subject Popular Science
Pages 320
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Lisa Margonelli is the author of Oil on the Brain, a national bestseller which the American Library Association named one of the 25 Notable Books of 2007. She has written for numerous publications, including Time, National Geographic, Wired, Salon, Discover and San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in Maine.


‘…one of the finest writers and most original thinkers we have. A surprising, swirling, fantastically unpredictable, thought-provoking, funny, and (depending on your species) delicious book.'

- Mary Roach, author of Grunt and Gulp

‘In a unique voice that's wry, inventive, and acrobatic, Margonelli takes us on a termite-guided exploration of subterranean tracts of nature, science, and robotics. The book is brimming with flair. Prepare to find yourself absorbed.'

- Peter Godfrey-Smith, author of Other Minds

‘Unlikely but fascinating...[this] far-ranging work touches on the nature of individuality, the use of drones by the military, the applicability of concepts of good and evil to science, and the creation of biofuels created using the termite gut, among other topics. Margonelli brings all of this to light by making complex, cutting-edge science understandable to the general reader, while also conveying the excitement, frustration, and plain drudgery inherent in the scientific endeavor... Margonelli has written a book as entertaining as it is informative.'

- Publishers Weekly