Born in 1948, Dr. Robert A. Cannings is not to be confused with his twin brothers Richard and Sydney Cannings, both of whom also publish in the field of natural science. Robert A. Cannings has published Dragonflies of British Columbia and the Yukon (Royal British Columbia Museum, 2002) and The Systematics of Lasiopogon (Royal British Columbia Museam 2002), about 'robber' flies in northern B.C. He also wrote A Field Guide to Insects of the Pacific Northwest (Harbour 2018), a durable, water-resistant 8-fold guide describing more than 50 of the most common species that are likely to be encountered in this region. With his twin brothers he also co-authored Birds of the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (Royal BC Museum, 1987). With Andrew P. Harcombe, he published The Vertebrates of British Columbia: Scientific and English Names (Royal British Columbia Museum, 1990).

Dr. Robert Cannings is Curator Emeritus of Entomology at the Royal B.C. Museum. He notes that although he has studied many varieties of insects, his favourites are dragonflies and robber flies. Prevous positions include biologist for BC Parks and lecturer & museum curator at UBC.

Who knew beetles also pollinate plants? With their long antennae and often colourful bodies, golden flower long-horn beetles, like bees, visit flowers to feed on pollen and nectar. They are "really a stand out,"; says Dr. Robert Cannings in A Field Guide to Insects of the Pacific Northwest (Harbour $7.95).
Cannings, the older brother of twin naturalists Richard and Sydney Cannings, has produced a durable, water-resistant compendium describing fifty of the most common species such as silverfish, wingless and slender, that live in buildings and nibble on paper and cloth. 978-1-55017-834-0

1. Those wonderful sounds associated with summer, which are made by crickets, katydids, and grasshoppers happen when these insects communicate noisily by rubbing their wings, or legs and wings, together. Given this way of communicating, it shouldn't be surprising that their ears are on their front legs.

2. Some people might want to know that the white foamy 'spit' we often see on forest plant stems conceals a nymph that sucks up plant fluids and grows to become a stocky adult called the meadow spittlebug.

3. We learn that the exquisitely shaped (but unfortunately named) chlorochroa stink bug is vegetarian. Other stink bug species may eat insects but all are experts at creating smelly chemicals to ward off predators. The green stink bug has a gradual metamorphosis and its nymph stage looks almost like the adult, except that its wings aren't fully grown.

4. Snow scorpionflies (pictured) walk and hop on snow and are usually seen in the winter and early spring as they soak up heat from the sun with their dark colouring. They have wings but they don't fly. The male scorpionfly uses his wings to hold the female while mating; it's not known for what purpose the female scorpionfly has wings.

5. The lady beetle, more commonly called the lady bug, has another way to warn would-be predators: its bright colours indicate that it tastes awful.


[BCBW 2018] "Natural History"