Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army and Other Diabolical Insects

Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army and Other Diabolical Insects

4.6 9
by Amy Stewart
     
 

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In this darkly comical look at the sinister side of our relationship with the natural world,
Stewart has tracked down over one hundred of our worst entomological foes—creatures that infest, infect, and generally wreak havoc on human affairs. From the world’s most painful hornet, to the flies that transmit deadly diseases, to millipedes that stop

Overview

In this darkly comical look at the sinister side of our relationship with the natural world,
Stewart has tracked down over one hundred of our worst entomological foes—creatures that infest, infect, and generally wreak havoc on human affairs. From the world’s most painful hornet, to the flies that transmit deadly diseases, to millipedes that stop traffic, to the
“bookworms” that devour libraries, to the Japanese beetles munching on your roses, Wicked Bugs delves into the extraordinary powers of six- and eight-legged creatures.
With wit, style, and exacting research, Stewart has uncovered the most terrifying and titillating stories of bugs gone wild. It’s an A to Z of insect enemies, interspersed with sections that explore bugs with kinky sex lives (“She’s Just Not That Into You”), creatures lurking in the cupboard
(“Fear No Weevil”), insects eating your tomatoes (“Gardener’s Dirty Dozen”), and phobias that feed our (sometimes) irrational responses to bugs (“Have No Fear”).
Intricate and strangely beautiful etchings and drawings by Briony Morrow-Cribbs capture diabolical bugs of all shapes and sizes in this mixture of history, science, murder, and intrigue that begins—but doesn’t end—in your own backyard

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[Stewart] wrote this book to scare the bugs out of you…Stewart is not an entomologist, but she is a consummate storyteller with a curious mind.” – The Oregonian
Scientific American bog
“A cavalcade of terrors ... [Wicked Bugs] makes for an entertaining tour of creepy-crawly territory.”—Washington Post
Washington Post
“[Wicked Bugs] is not a comprehensive field guide but a smorgasbord of facts—ranging from horrible, painful or otherwise discomfiting—about bugs... Stewart’s prose is simple and to the point. She lets the little horrors she describes work in the reader’s imagination without any hyperbolic help from her. Guaranteed to cause sympathy itching and other discomfort.”—Kirkus Reviews
Knoxville News-Sentinel
“This book covers many of the gross, frightening, disgusting, and awful things that bugs can do to you. And it’s COOL ... Bugs become less gross, and a lot more interesting, when put into the context of how they have changed human history.”—Scientific American blog
The Oregonian
“I should have known it would gross me out, in a deliciously creepy kind of way. It's everything you didn't know you didn't want to know about insects…” – Knoxville News-Sentinel
Entertainment Weekly
“A fascinatingly dark look at the world of wonders that buzzes, burrows and reproduces all around us... Stewart's research is prodigious and her writing precise, whether she's telling the tale of a caterpillar that looks like a tiny Persian cat or more about fleas than you ever wanted to know. Read this book and you'll always keep your gardening gloves on...Stewart concentrates on scarily diabolical bugs, to great effect.”—Seattle Times
Seattle Times
“A fascinatingly dark look at the world of wonders that buzzes, burrows and reproduces all around us... Stewart's research is prodigious and her writing precise, whether she's telling the tale of a caterpillar that looks like a tiny Persian cat or more about fleas than you ever wanted to know. Read this book and you'll always keep your gardening gloves on...Stewart concentrates on scarily diabolical bugs, to great effect.”—Seattle Times
Smithsonian.com
“If you’ve got an insect phobia, this probably isn’t the book for you. But if not, dig in, as Stewart gleefully archives more than 100 of earth’s creepiest crawlies.”—Entertainment Weekly
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“From bat bugs — yes, bat bugs — to banana slugs to the pork tapeworm, [Stewart] details the most infectious, most terrifying insects on the planet.”—NPR’s “Fresh Air”

“I read your book, and I'm all itchy.”—Dave Davies, NPR’s “Fresh Air”

“A word of warning: Some of the descriptions ahead might trigger your gag reflex.”—Terry Gross, NPR’s “Fresh Air”

NPR's "Weekend Edition"
“There is a ton of well-researched, fascinating information with terrific and terrifying stories from history ... As Stewart writes, ‘we are seriously outnumbered.’ It’s best we know our enemies.”—Smithsonian.com

NPR's "Fresh Air"
“There are a number of interesting tidbits in this book, you know, things that you might want to work into a conversation.”—Linda Wertheimer, NPR’s “Weekend Edition”
The New York Times
“Stewart offers witty capsule biographies of dozens of chitin horrors, from the African bat bug to the tsetse fly, with plenty of shout-out for the spiders who haunt our nightmares, including such familiars as black widows and brown recluses.” - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
James Norton
…an entertaining tour of creepy-crawly territory.
—The Washington Post

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565129603
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
05/03/2011
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
104,959
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.00(d)

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From the Publisher
"Stewart amusingly but analytically profiles the baddest bugs around in quick but attention-grabbing snapshots of little creatures that pack a lot of punch." —-Booklist

Meet the Author

Amy Stewart is the award-winning author of six books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world. She is the cofounder of the popular blog Garden Rant and is a contributing editor at Fine Gardening magazine. She and her husband live in Eureka, California, where they own an antiquarian bookstore called Eureka Books.

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Wicked Bugs 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
SAHARATEA More than 1 year ago
You'll more than likely find this title in the Nature section of your bookstore, but it could realistically be shelved under Horror. This book is seriously scary. In a breezy, light tone and pace, it describes all sorts of frightening details about insects, especially in terms of what they will do to you if you run across them. Covering various continents, there's really no place you are safe from these tiniest of creatures-sure, they may not hunt you down exactly, but the odds are with them that one of their kin will be dining with (or on) you. Flies, caterpillars, spiders: the diseases they carry and their methods of transmission are all detailed, with anecdotal stories illustrating just how effective they can be. The book is a sequel to Wicked Plants by the same author (which I haven't yet read), and it's extremely well-researched. One section details early forms of biological warfare, when soldiers would hurl hornet's nests or scorpion-filled baskets over the city walls of their opposer, causing havoc and sickening many. Another section explains why you should be a cat-person, as the diseases that rats, mice, and vermin still carry (the plague in the past) are easily able to sicken you. I made the mistake of reading this before bed. I don't recommend that, as you'll find yourself convinced something is crawling in your sheets. Despite the light-hearted presentation, the book does a serious service by showing just how interlinked species are, and how extinction of some animals or insects causes a disparity that often increases the danger of illness and infection. The balance of habitats is essential to keep most of these bugs manageable. Really, there is no such thing as a "small" bug in the living world as all factor in somehow. A great gift title, but I would probably hold back from sharing with children. The chapters on bug reproduction are, um, disturbing and graphic. Clearly, a bug's life is not always fun, and (spoiler alert!)the males usually end up dismembered and dead. For the most part, females rule the insect world and males are their underlings and servants. In terms of criticism? I find none except that I wish some areas were even more in depth, such as to know exactly why these insects behave the way they do. However, the information given is accessible and never loses your interest as it might if it became too much like a scholarly article or textbook. This is my favorite kind of nonfiction title, and it's already been devoured by two other members of my family. Mention must be made of the incredible illustrations that accompany the text by Briony Morrow-Cribbs. They are hand-drawn and stunning.
Chowbell More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting, entertaining book. Isn't it wonderful that there are so many amazing, living things on this planet to find out about?And Amy Stewart is a pro at making us want to.
efm More than 1 year ago
Bought both of her books, Wicked Bugs and Wicked Plants, enjoyed both, learned a lot.
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