Synopses & Reviews
Bed bugs. Few words strike such fear in the minds of travelers. In cities around the world, lurking beneath the plush blankets of otherwise pristine-looking hotel beds are tiny bloodthirsty beasts just waiting for weary wanderers to surrender to a vulnerable slumber. Though bed bugs today have infested the globe, the common bed bug is not a new pest at all. Indeed, as Brooke Borel reveals in this unusual history, this most-reviled species may date back over 250,000 years, wreaking havoc on our collective psyche while even inspiring art, literature, and musicandmdash;in addition to vexatious red welts.
In Infested, Borel introduces readers to the biological and cultural histories of these amazingly adaptive insects, and the myriad ways in which humans have responded to them. She travels to meet with scientists who are rearing bed bug coloniesandmdash;even by feeding them with their own blood (ouch!)andmdash;and to the stages of musicals performed in honor of the pests. She explores the history of bed bugs and their apparent disappearance in the 1950s after the introduction of DDT, charting how current infestations have flourished in direct response to human chemical use as well as the ease of global travel. She also introduces us to the economics of bed bug infestations, from hotels to homes to office buildings, and the expansive industry that has arisen to combat them.
Hiding during the day in the nooks and seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, wallpaper, or any clutter around a bed, bed bugs are thriving and eager for their next victim. By providing fascinating details on bed bug science and behavior as well as a captivating look into the lives of those devoted to researching or eradicating them, Infested is sure to inspire at least a nibble of respect for these tenacious creaturesandmdash;while also ensuring that you will peek beneath the sheets with prickly apprehension.
"Enlightening...a cheerful sequel to her 2009 bestseller. Ms. Stewart, who grows poison plants in her garden in Eureka, Calif., likes the dark side." New York Times
"Wicked Bugs is 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
"Stewart must be among the world’s most interesting cocktail party guests. Wicked Bugs is crammed with horrid details and creepy but fascinating insect trivia...the audience will come away with newfound appreciation for the insect kingdom." Wisconsin State Journal
"I read your book, and I'm all itchy." Dave Davies, host of NPR's Fresh Air
"I was excited to see this little volume come across my desk, having read Stewart’s Wicked Plants two years ago, and it didn’t disappoint...There is a ton of well-researched, fascinating information with terrific and terrifying stories from history." Smithsonian
"When it comes to methods of torture, the insect world is quite accommodating...Ranging from verdant South American jungles to Manhattan’s cold concrete canyons, 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
"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
"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 - " - Weekend Edition - "
"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
The New York Times
"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"
NPR - ' - s - " - Fresh Air - "
"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"
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
defines bug in the amateur sense -- that is, anything creepy-crawly, including worms, snails, slugs and other insects that are not, technically speaking, bugs. A true bug, Ms. Stewart acknowledges, has six legs and wings, like all insects, as well as piercing and sucking mouthparts. And wicked, she makes clear, lies in the eye of the beholder, whether you're a Roman with scorpions falling into your eyes or a Marylander with stink bugs falling into your hair... Wicked Bugs
has some good tips for gardeners, like putting out rolled-up newspaper or cardboard tubes at night to trap earwigs and dumping them into soapy water in the morning... In fact, no bug is truly wicked. It is just eating."--New York Times
] 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
“A cavalcade of terrors ... [Wicked Bugs] makes for an entertaining tour of creepy-crawly territory.”—Washington Post Scientific American bog
“This book covers many of the gross, frightening, disgusting, and awful things that bugs can do to you. And its 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 Knoxville News-Sentinel
“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 The Oregonian
“[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
"Shawand#8217;s detailed investigation places the broad classifications of ancient and modern insects in the context of their development, and, by showing specifics of coevolution, he makes a strong case for valuing the interconnectedness of all life."
and#8220;A fascinating peek under the mantle of the and#8216;known world,and#8217; revealing a minute, clicking-and-whirring mechanism manned largely by bugs. I learned SO much from this book.and#8221;
and#8220;Shawand#8217;s Planet of the Bugs is the most eloquent and passionate book on insects in a generation.and#8221;
and#8220;A detailed and intriguing journey through the evolution of insects, following their development from single-celled organisms through to the elaborate and fascinating beasts that now dominate almost every niche on the planet. Shaw writes in an engaging style that is almost that of thinking out loud, conversing with his reader much as he presumably would over a cup of coffee, and he makes evolution a tangible process, exposing some of the more peculiar and less well-known features of our six-legged relatives.and#8221;
and#8220;A very enjoyable read. Planet of the Bugs is packed full of really great information from a unique and#8216;buggyand#8217; perspective and is done with humor and fun.and#8221;
and#8220;Behind the witty prose lies a serious message. The triumph of insects is inseparably connected to the success and progression of almost all life on the planet in some way or another. Insects have coevolved with plants and animals and can act as friend or foe, spanning all lifestyles from predator to parasite to pollinator. So entangled are they in the fate of many cornerstone species that the decline of insect groups has put many ecosystems at risk of collapse, including several that are crucial for human survival. We may be somewhat flippant about their influence on our own evolutionary history, but we can be sure that the demise of insects would have catastrophic consequences for our future. . . . Eloquent and very knowledgeable, Shaw is also, perhaps more importantly when it comes to a good read, a storyteller capable of painting a rich portrayal of prehistoric lands filled with weird and wonderful bugs and beasts. His captivating and comical writing had me marveling at detailed accounts of giant dragonfly-like beasts with two-foot wingspans, and laughing out loud at aptly named sections such as and#8216;Secretive societies with an anal fixation.and#8217; I am not, it is fair to say, a lover of things that creep and crawl, but looking through Shawand#8217;s eyes, I found myself appreciating their place in my world a little more. Moreover, as he made me realize, it is not my world at all, but theirs.and#8221;
and#8220;Shaw tackles evolution from the perspective of the insects, a refreshing and insightful change from the usual human-centered view, and argues convincingly that insects have diversified and thrived more successfully than any other animal on Earth. . . . Shaw's coherent, precise writing is complemented by pleasing illustrations of insects and fossils. . . . A readable, compact introduction for the layperson.and#8221;
and#8220;Our encounters with bed bugs used to be limited to wishes for a good nightand#8217;s sleep. But now theyand#8217;re everywhereand#8212;in hotels, apartments, and even subways. In her fascinating book Infested,and#160; Borel chronicles the renaissance of this frightful insect and leaves us marveling at their remarkable biology.and#8221;
and#8220;Accessible and entertaining . . . . Shawand#8217;s unusual perspective on life can be delightfully askew: why, he asks, do we give our loved ones flowers instead of stink bugs, when many of the latter are just as colourful and sweet-smelling? Overall, readers should come away with a deeper appreciation of insect diversity, and a fresh regard for evolutionand#8217;s sweep.and#8221;
and#8220;Shaw has been collecting bugs since he was four. Now a professor of entomology at the University of Wyoming, he shares his passion for these creatures and their cosmological significance in Planet of the Bugs. The scope of this work is immense. . . . Packed with intriguing trivia. . . . Shaw boggles the reader with his enthusiasm and expertise, and reveals a playful side. Among his many encyclopedic turns, he waxes philosophical and indulges in metaphor and even humor, resulting in a surprisingly accessible and entertaining read. A love of bugs is not required. Discover: An impassioned view of insect evolution and the awesome implications of bugs for all life on earth.and#8221;
and#8220;The 165-million-year-long era when dinosaurs roamed the Earth shouldnand#8217;t be called the Age of Reptiles. Nor should the era that followed, which extends to the present, be christened the Age of Mammals. Just ask an insect guy. In Planet of the Bugs, Shaw . . . makes a good case that Earth has long been dominated by insects. . . . In a chapter-by-chapter march through time, [he] engagingly chronicles the evolutionary innovations that have rendered insects so successful. . . . Drawing from field studies and the fossil record, Planet of the Bugs is a fascinating look at the rise and proliferation of creatures that shape ecosystems worldwide.and#8221;
and#8220;Shaw is a masterful guide to insectsand#8217; intimidating diversity and complicated history. . . . He is particularly effective at dispelling misconceptions, pointing out that, despite what exterminators might suggest, most insects are not pests. . . . Science-minded readers will appreciate how alternative, competing hypotheses are presented for various unresolved questions, like why insects first evolved flight and the causes of mass extinctions. In the end, Planet of the Bugs succeeds as an accessible introduction to the evolutionary history of the organisms that truly dominate our planet. (Hint: Itand#8217;s not us.).and#8221;
andldquo;Shaw, our erudite and passionate guide, makes bugs the star. Give him a few hours and you may briefly escape our species bias. . . . Shaw has . . . done justice to the claim in his title, Planet of the Bugs.andrdquo;
andldquo;[One of] the best popular science books of 2014: biological sciences.andrdquo;
andldquo;Charting a somewhat different course from that of more conventional books on insects, Shaw takes readers on a grand tour through the vast expanse of geologic time. and#160;From the beginnings of life on Earth through modern times, he outlines the origin and evolution of major taxonomic groups as chronicled in the fossil record. . . . The book stresses their global importance as drivers of evolutionary change in a wide array of plants and animals. . . . Recommended.andrdquo;
andldquo;Shaw does a wonderful job of describing how important insects are by giving a chronological account of their terrifically successful and diverse evolution. . . . Humorous and provocative. . . . The insects are more numerous, more speciated, more diverse, and historically more influential than we, and despite all the detrimental changes we have wrought especially over the past couple of centuries, it is the insectsandrsquo; planet, and my bet is that it will remain so even if the humans donandrsquo;t last on it.andrdquo;
andldquo;Speaking of creeping things that creepeth upon the earth, and whirring, buzzing things that zip about in the air, Shawandrsquo;s Planet of the Bugs is another of the glories of 2014 . . . . The book offers a mixture of great learning, passion, wit, and arrested development. . . . I wish I could flick a switch now and then to see with Shawandrsquo;s eyes. His book is the next best thing.andrdquo;
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.
Dinosaurs, however toothy, did not rule the earthand#151;and neither do humans. But what were and are the true potentates of our planet? Insects, says Scott Richard Shawand#151;millions
of insect species. Starting in the shallow oceans of ancient Earth and ending in the far reaches of outer spaceand#151;where, Shaw proposes, insect-like aliens may have achieved similar preeminenceand#151;Planet of the Bugs
spins a sweeping account of insectsand#8217; evolution from humble arthropod ancestors into the bugs we know and love (or fear and hate) today.
Leaving no stone unturned, Shaw explores how evolutionary innovations such as small body size, wings, metamorphosis, and parasitic behavior have enabled insects to disperse widely, occupy increasingly narrow niches, and survive global catastrophes in their rise to dominance. Through buggy tales by turns bizarre and comicaland#151;from caddisflies that construct portable houses or weave silken aquatic nets to trap floating debris, to parasitic wasp larvae that develop in the blood of host insects and, by storing waste products in their rear ends, are able to postpone defecation until after they emergeand#151;he not only unearths how changes in our planetand#8217;s geology, flora, and fauna contributed to insectsand#8217; success, but also how, in return, insects came to shape terrestrial ecosystems and amplify biodiversity. Indeed, in his visits to hyperdiverse rain forests to highlight the current insect extinction crisis, Shaw reaffirms just how crucial these tiny beings are to planetary health and human survival.
In this age of honeybee die-offs and bedbugs hitching rides in the spines of library books, Planet of the Bugs charms with humor, affection, and insight into the worldand#8217;s six-legged creatures, revealing an essential importance that resonates across time and space.
Bernd Heinrich receives a letter from a severely ill friend asking if he might have a "green burial" at Heinrich's hunting camp, andand#160;the acclaimed biologist/author sets out to explore exactly how the animal world deals with the death-to-life cycle and what we can learn from the process, both ecologically and spiritually.
From one of the finest naturalist/writers of our time, a fascinating investigation of Natureand#8217;s inspiring death-to-life cycle
When a good friend with a severe illness wrote, asking if he might have his and#8220;green burialand#8221; at Bernd Heinrichand#8217;s hunting camp in Maine, it inspired the acclaimed biologist to investigate a subject that had long fascinated him. How exactly does the animal world deal with the flip side of the life cycle? And what are the lessons, ecological to spiritual, raised by a close look at how the animal world renews itself? Heinrich focuses his wholly original gaze on the fascinating doings of creatures most of us would otherwise turn away fromand#8212;field mouse burials conducted by carrion beetles; the communication strategies of ravens, and#8220;the premier northern undertakersand#8221;; and the and#8220;inadvertent teamworkand#8221; among wolves and large cats, foxes and weasels, bald eagles and nuthatches in cold-weather dispersal of prey. Heinrich reveals, too, how and where humans still play our ancient and important role as scavengers, thereby turningand#8212;not dust to dustand#8212;but life to life.
Beginning in the shallow oceans of the Cambrian Period and ending in the hyperdiverse rain forests of our own Cenozoic Era, Planet of the Bugs spins a sweeping account of the insectsand#8217; evolution from humble arthropod ancestors into the bugs we love or hate to see today. It shows how the evolutionary innovations which bombinate across the geologic agesand#151;such as small body size, wings, metamorphosis, and parasitic behaviorand#151;enabled the insects to disperse widely, occupy increasingly smaller niches, and survive global catastrophe in their rise to species dominance. Along the way, the book introduces us to a fascinating repertoire of insects, from caddisflies that weave silken aquatic nets, which they use to catch floating debris and construct portable houses, to parasitic wasp larvae that develop inside the blood of host insects and, by accumulating waste products in their rear end, defecating only after they emerge, show how itand#8217;s possible not to pee in the pool. Shaw not only explores the history of insect evolution and behavior, he also reveals how changes in Earthand#8217;s geology, flora, and fauna contributed to the insectand#8217;s success and how, in return, the insects helped shape terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity, becoming so essential that without them, our terrestrial ecosystems would be vastly diminished, if not entirely destroyed. He ultimately turns his eyes toward the stars and wonders if insect-like creatures exist on other habitable planets, but not before passionately calling attention to the current extinction crisis here on Earth, one that could potentially extinguish the majority of insects along with the rain forests they inhabit.
About the Author
BERND HEINRICHandnbsp;is an acclaimed scientist and the author of numerous books, including the best-sellingandnbsp;Winter World, Mind of the Raven, Why We Run, and The Homing Instinct.andnbsp;He writes forandnbsp;Scientific American,andnbsp;Outside,andnbsp;American Scientist, andandnbsp;Audubon,andnbsp;and has published book reviews and op-eds for theandnbsp;New York Timesandnbsp;and theandnbsp;Los Angeles Times.andnbsp;Among Heinrichand#39;s many honors isandnbsp;the 2013 PEN New England Award for Nonfiction, forandnbsp;Life Everlasting. He lives in Maine.
Table of Contents
Prologue. Time Travel with Insects
1. The Buggy Planet
2. Rise of the Arthropods
The Cambrian period, 541and#8211;485 million years ago, and the Ordovician period, 485and#8211;444 million years ago
3. Silurian Landfall
The Silurian period, 444and#8211;419 million years ago
4. Six Feet under the Moss
The Devonian period, 419and#8211;359 million years ago
5. Dancing on Air
The Carboniferous period, 359and#8211;299 million years ago
6. Paleozoic Holocaust
The Permian period, 299and#8211;252 million years ago
7. Triassic Spring
The Triassic period, 252and#8211;201 million years ago
8. Picnicking in Jurassic Park
The Jurassic period, 201and#8211;145 million years ago
9. Cretaceous Bloom and Doom
The Cretaceous period, 145and#8211;66 million years ago
10. Cenozoic Reflections
The Cenozoic era, 66 million years ago to the present day
Postscript. The Buggy Universe Hypothesis
About the Author