- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Algonquin Books; First Printing edition (May 3, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1565129601
- ISBN-13: 978-1565129603
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 7.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 168 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical Insects Hardcover – May 3, 2011
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“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”
About 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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This book is cleverly illustrated with detailed pencil sketches. The bugs are classified as either Horrible; Painful; Dangerous; Destructive; or Deadly. These headings alone suggest an intriguing read.
Just a sample of the content includes the Death Watch Beetle – Destructive. This infamous insect provided the dramatic dirge of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” It sits in the rafters of a house, munching at the beams as it tick-ticks the wood, calling to its mate. Its reputation goes back to 18th century when it was labeled as an omen portending death.
A common household nuisance, the Bed Bug, is a tenacious and painful member of the Cimicidae family. Traveling at night, the bed bug gets ahold of its dinner by gently attaching its stylets into the skin as it releases an anticoagulant insuring a good feed. The bites of this night visitor can cause allergic reactions, secondary infections, anemia, swelling, and rashes. The author makes suggestions for besting the bed bug, but also makes it clear that this is no easy task.
Stewart provides some basic facts about each of the 36 bugs mentioned in her book. Size, family, habitat, and distribution data are provided for each. A list of recommended reading and resources is also provided by the author. She further makes apologies for her misuse of the term “bug.” She bows to the distinctions between a bug and an insect, but then, proceeds to use the word “bug” throughout. If you can abide this misnomer, you should find “Wicked Bugs” a delightful and educational read.
"Bugs" here is used to describe a broad range of critters, from the microscopic tot he large, and from insects and spiders etc. through various kinds of worms. The tags range from "deadly" to "horrible", with stops at "painful", "dangerous", and "destructive". It's a horror show!
The writing and the wonderful production values in the book help to ease one through all the revoltingness, though, and make the book both an entertaining and darkly fun read. Each pest, or category of pest, gets its own short essay, complete with lurid details about what's so icky about them.
The artwork by Briony Morrow-Cribbs adds much to the enjoyment. Even the most skin-crawly of critters somehow looks better in her wonderful illustrations (and somehow less likely to give one nightmares), especially combined with the excellent layout and the 2-color printing. It's a very elegant book.
I got this at least a year ago, after loving 2 of her other books- "Drunken Botanist" and "Wicked Plants". I'd recommend these too. I'd put of reading this one, though, because bugs do make my skin crawl in general. I would not recommend it to the currently phobic!
It's a great book on scary. revolting, and creepy topics that are nonetheless a part of life- and it's beautifully done. Recommended- with caution!
While keeping totally within biological facts, Amy Stewart never-the-less finds the quirky and unusual in the bug world. Her writing style is bright, cheery, and fun, no where near what might be presented in your Entomology 101 textbook. The details presented are far from dry--they are more of the engrossingly morbid, the macabre, the scary, and the just plain fun. While the book may be technically a book on biology, if could easily fit into the horror genre--not the Stephen King-type horrors, but more in line as an adult version of Goosebumps.
The facts presented in themselves are amazing and enlightening. While I was aware of some of what was written, more of it was new knowledge to me. The book gave me a new take on just how diverse our world is, and it results in looking at insects and arachnids in an entirely new light.