Posts Tagged ‘mosquitoes’

Don’t look now, but we’re surrounded. And vastly  outnumbered – about two hundred million to one.  So much for escape. Bugs are everywhere:  crawling, slithering, squirming, sucking, munching, mating, buzzing, biting.

Amy Stewart’s creepy new popular science book, Wicked Bugs, notes that many bugs are beneficial, necessary to the cycle of life and  the food chain. But she’s more interested in the dark side of the relationship  between humans and nature, as readers of her previous best-seller Wicked Plants well know.

This volume is just as witty and informative,  illustrated with detailed etchings by Briony Morrow-Cribbs  that make most of the subjects —  African bat bugs to the zombie–like jewel wasp — look as if they starred in ‘50s horror flick about radiation gone wrong. (Remember the monster mutants in Them!)

Of course, a number are downright deadly, full  of poisonous venom that paralyses the nervous system (certain spiders,  scorpions, and the well-named assassin bugs). Parasites hop along for the ride and infiltrate innards. Flies, fleas and cockroachess carry  filth  and disease. As Stewart observes: “Flea vomit is the true culprit in a plague  epidemic.’’

Her curious anecdotes often have a high ick  factor.  Body lice helped bring down  Napoleon’s army. A man woke up with a nose full of maggots after a fly laid its  eggs in his nostrils. And, yes, roaches will crawl in ears. Euwwww.

If you think staying inside is going to help,  well, consider bed bugs.  They dine on  you. Silverfish eat books. Weevils flourish in meal. Termites chew on wood.  What’s that tick-tock sound in your wall? Oh, just the death-watch beetle.

Florida is paradise for bugs. The Mediterranean fruit fly. Fire ants. Roundworms. Deer ticks. And what Stewart considers the  most wicked bug of all – mosquitoes, whose saliva transmits hundreds of fevers  and diseases, “making them the world’s most deadly insect. Malaria is believed to have killed more people than all wars combined.’’

Now you know. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…!

Open Book: I received an advance reading copy of Amy Stewart’s Wicked Bugs from publisher Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. It arrived with a stuffed bookworm that looks like a giant deformed banana with huge googly eyes. Terrifying.

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