- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Hyperion; 1 edition (June 13, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786867817
- ISBN-13: 978-0786867813
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 43 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,311,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mosquito: A Natural History of Our Most Persistent and Deadly Foe 1st Edition
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Far from being just an itchy annoyance, a mosquito bite can also mark the transmission of a deadly disease. Millions worldwide die of malaria, yellow fever, and West Nile virus every year. Scientist Andrew Spielman tells the story of the tiny, ubiquitous insect, the diseases it carries, and the fight against them both in Mosquito.
Spielman, who has spent much of his career battling mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illness, knows his subject intimately--perhaps too intimately, as the section on the different species drags a bit. Better is his handling of various historic epidemics, from the malaria outbreak that caused the French to abandon the Panama Canal to the 1999 West Nile virus outbreak in New York City.
Spielman also recounts stories of how the tiny pests were thwarted, including the way DDT came to be used as a weapon in the cold war (take our side and we'll get rid of your mosquitoes)--and why these efforts ultimately failed. Most important, Spielman details how cities should prepare themselves for the inevitable epidemics ahead. --Sunny Delaney
Mosquito expert Spielman tells us, in this creepily fascinating book, that there are more than 2,500 kinds of those tiny, annoying, and extremely deadly creatures. Deadly? Yup: every year millions of people die from malaria, which is just one of the diseases carried by mosquitoes. Spielman and coauthor D'Antonio tell us everything we could possibly need to know about the mosquito: its life cycle, its natural enemies and predators, and, of course, its monumental impact on human history. (Did you know that mosquitoes contributed to Sir Francis Drake's defeat by the Spanish Armada, or that Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan had their plans of world domination brought to a screeching halt by the little pests?) This is truly an unexpected delight, an informative, entertaining, and sometimes skin-crawly book that should appeal to anyone with a taste for popular science. David Pitt
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Top customer reviews
Mosquitoes are a huge pest, and they seem to be everywhere. The author takes the reader through the life cycle of the mosquito and explains how they breed and where they are found. He focuses most of his attention of those that transmit disease, although there are many species that are simply pests.
From there they author takes the reader on a journey of the various diseases that this pests can and do carry. Here the book is a tad out of date, since it describes West Nile Virus at a time when it had only very recently entered the United States and does not cover Zika virus at all.
Even though this book is dated, it is the best introductory books on mosquitoes and the diseases they carry that I have ever found. I have read a lot of dull books on mosquitoes, but this book brings the subject alive (so to speak). I highly recommend this for those wishing to learn how to avoid the pest as well as anyone with an interest in the diseases they can carry.
The book is organized into three parts. Part One describes the pest's life cycle and it's place in the natural world. Part Two gets into how the mosquito has shaped whole societies by being a vector of various diseases and parasites. Part Three lays out what science has done, and continues to do, to try to control mosquitos and minimize their effect on not only the third world, but in major world cities. There are many, many interesting tales and stories of man against mosquito.
Initially, I was looking for a book that presented the most up to date facts on the biology and control of the mosquito. When the book arrived from Amazon, I thought that I was going to be disappointed. Not so, the book was an excellent presentation of an us (and other warm blooded animals)against them story. I don't think that you'll be disappointed by this book.
Unfortunately the maps of the distributions of both mosquitoes and the diseases they carry are somewhat out of date. Aedes aegypti is now in Tucson, Las Cruces, and El Paso in the Southwest U.S., and West Nile is in almost every state. Also the information about the vectors of West Nile Virus is an oversimplification. In the western US at least, Culex tarsalis my be a more efficient vector than C. pipiens.
Despite these minor flaws, I highly recommend this book. It is one of the best general work on the subject since J. D. Gillett's book "The Mosquito." Unfortunately both are now out of print.
Unfortunately, according to this book, 'Culex pipiens' also happens to be the most common transmitter of West Nile disease from birds to humans. I guess the good news is that if I'm raising these little buggers in the basement sump or the overflow drain in the bathtub, they won't have much of a chance to suck blood from an infected bird and transfer the virus to me.
The authors actually wax rather poetic on this book's main subject:
"With their glassy wings, delicate legs, and seemingly fragile bodies, mosquitoes are nevertheless a powerful, even fatal presence, in our lives. What creature could be more intriguing?"
Even though I was reading this book with a specific purpose--to figure out how to get rid of our unwanted house pests--I was soon drawn into authors' engaging, authoritative natural history of mosquitoes, especially their role in repelling unimmunized invaders from their territory. Africa acquired the reputation as 'the white man's grave' because of the diseases (mainly malaria and yellow fever) that mosquitoes passed on to would-be conquerors.
Mosquitoes show up almost everywhere. I once went on a canoe trip through Canada's Northwest Territories in August, and on the days when it wasn't actually snowing, mosquitoes were a major pest. According to the authors, "In the Arctic, evolution permitted the rise of such mosquitoes as 'Aedes communis,' a mosquito that lays its eggs in tundra wetlands. The eggs survive subzero winter quite nicely. When the ice thaws and the water rises, they hatch almost instantaneously...No one who has been in their range during their short feeding period will ever forget the clouds of mosquitoes that interfere with breathing and cover every exposed inch of an intruder's body."
Readers will learn almost everything they ever wanted to know about mosquitoes from this book. For instance, the amber-encased mosquito that showed up in Stephen Spielberg's film of "Jurassic Park" could not have contained dinosaur DNA, because it was a 'Toxorynchites'--a giant mosquito that is one of the few mosquitoes that will never drink blood. That scientific booboo must have had entymologists rolling in the aisles.
Well, I'm going to put a mosquito dunk in our basement sump and seal off the overflow drain in the bathtub to discourage our indoor population of 'Culex pipiens.' I suggest you read "Mosquitoes" whether or not you have unwanted house guests, because it has some fascinating information about our specie's deadliest foe.