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Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army and Other Diabolical Insects | [Amy Stewart]

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

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 Japanese beetles munching on your roses, Wicked Bugs delves into the extraordinary powers of many-legged creatures
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Audible Editor Reviews

Award-winning author Amy Stewart's Wicked Bugs is a compendium of every little critter you never want to run into, with interesting history lessons thrown in along the way. Ever hear the one about the guy who committed suicide by Black Widow? How about the time Darwin got some beetle juice squirted into his mouth? Bonus: have enemies? This book will teach you how to coat an arrowhead with poison from various insects and other potentially toxic compounds.

From spiders to stink bugs, this book is not for the faint of heart. Want to have nightmares forever? Picture a locust swarm larger than the state of California. One of the most compelling chapters is one that focuses on zombie bugs, particularly the parasitic Jewel Wasp, which injects venom directly into the brain of a cockroach, then forces the roach to do its bidding.

Coleen Marlo handles the text with an encyclopedic accuracy, narrating swiftly through all manner of latin phylum, order, class, and species with the greatest of ease. In the end, you're thankful that she can keep it clinical, just for the sake of minimizing the sometimes graphic nature of the content.

A big part of the message here is that bugs are more powerful than we give them credit for. Stewart posits that lice, not the harsh Russian winter, may have been the downfall of Napoleon's army. She also implies that Formosan termites may have been responsible for breaking the levies and causing the widespread devastation of Hurricane Katrina. If you had any doubt about it before, you can put it to rest now; bugs really are wicked.

Creepy? Yes. Morbid? Sometimes. Informative? Most definitely. —Gina Pensiero

Publisher's Summary

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 Japanese beetles munching on your roses, Wicked Bugs delves into the extraordinary powers of many-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, creatures lurking in the cupboard, militant ants, and phobias that feed our (sometimes) irrational responses to bugs.

Wicked Bugs is a fascinating mixture of history, science, murder, and intrigue that begins - but doesn't end - in your own backyard.

©2011 Amy Stewart (P)2011 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (285 )
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3.7 (205 )
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    haesel Maryville, TN, United States 06-16-11
    haesel Maryville, TN, United States 06-16-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "All fluff no meat"

    I kept waiting for the 'meat' in this book -- it is not in depth enough and written more as a coffee table book -- also the author should hire a better reader for her material.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 07-28-11
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 07-28-11 Member Since 2005

    I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I'm scared and nauseated"

    Really don't listen to this while eating. And now I'm totally afraid to travel to anywhere south for fear of picking up a parasite, or to eat anywhere other than home and to be sure to cook my food thoroughly. Because with my luck I'll get a dreadful disease from a bug; Ms. Stewart happily points out. And if this isn't all enough, one would think at least think this an interesting book on bugs, but it really didn't hold my interest. It wasn't so much the content per se, I think. I felt as though it all moved along almost too quickly so that I wasn't able to take in what was being presented. Oh well.......

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tyler Chiocchio Phoenix, AZ United States 07-23-14
    Tyler Chiocchio Phoenix, AZ United States 07-23-14 Member Since 2014
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    "A no fluff adventure into the creepy crawly"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely! This is great for anyone that looks at the world with a "That's fascinating!" perspective. I'm looking forward to listening to more books by this author now.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It was a lot of fun to discover all the different insects and to better understand things I through I knew (I'm looking at you Brown Recluse). The insects, coupled with a story or two that highlights the creatures unique abilities was a great way to keep the curiosity flowing. It doesn't over complicate what is fundamentally interesting about the creatures and keeps things moving.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 11-11-13
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 11-11-13 Member Since 2009

    Acteon

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    "Not uninteresting yet hardly compelling"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No. It would be better to get the book. Listening to short sections on different bugs one after another gets rather tiresome. The information however is not without value.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    it would have had to be a completely different book, not a compendium of different insects.


    Did Wicked Bugs inspire you to do anything?

    Yes, pay more attention to bugs.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    christine Marlton, NJ, United States 07-15-12
    christine Marlton, NJ, United States 07-15-12 Member Since 2011
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    "I have a new love for spiders!"
    Where does Wicked Bugs rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I love books like this. Each chapter gives you knowledge on a special thing. In this case various bugs. If you are spooked easily and do not like bugs in general this is not the book for you. If you can take stories about bugs though it is great. Thought you knew alot about some bugs you better read this book. The cockroach chapter was amazing.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The cockroaches.


    What about Coleen Marlo’s performance did you like?

    I enjoyed her narration.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes. This is the type of book I love.


    Any additional comments?

    Read it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    'houla 05-22-12
    'houla 05-22-12
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    "Fun for the bug enthusiast!"
    Where does Wicked Bugs rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

    This book is well above average as an audiobook. Most of the bugs stories presented are interesting. Remember, though, that this book is more a reference than a tale.


    What other book might you compare Wicked Bugs to and why?

    It is similar to The Poisoner's Handbook as both cover many topics. The authors make efforts to include entertaining anecdotes throughout the books.


    Have you listened to any of Coleen Marlo???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Coleen Marlo also narrates The Poisoner's Handbook. Her narration is remarkably expressive considering that she could just drone out descriptions. She did a really good job.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    No one moment, but I did appreciate descriptions that included medical comments.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K.C. 12-19-11
    K.C. 12-19-11

    kpc

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    ""good" only for insect enthusiasts"

    I am a long time audible user. I was looking forward to much more from this title. Since I have an interest in entomology, it serves as a distraction. But for the regular listener, I think they will get bored fairly quickly between the interesting tidbits of historical excitement offered. I seriously thought that the narration was by a digitized computer voice when I first hear it--very monotone. The voice would probably be okay for a PBS documentary which used it only in snippets, but does not add anything to a full length book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    bracken mocksville, nc, United States 12-13-11
    bracken mocksville, nc, United States 12-13-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Another great Amy Stewart book!!"

    Very good book. A close second to my favorite Amy Stewart book, "Wicked Plants". Coleen Marlo does her usual awesome job of keeping my attention...and giggling to myself. Very interesting, entertaining and informative.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terry A. Gray 12-06-11

    ever reader

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    "Just a Catalog"

    This is the sort of book just about anyone could cook up after an entomological tour of Wikipedia and then some further--but not too deep--research at a library. It is superficially scientific, at least Latin names are used, but little more than a catalog, with brief venture into pestiferous Ripley's Believe It Or Not gosh awful descriptions of the tortures of insect or arachnid toxins. It might serve as a sort of bar bet reference, but is otherwise is fairly dull.

    The narration is good, but the material to be narrated verges on tedious so it is hard to stay with it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Houston, TX, United States 11-20-11
    Cynthia Houston, TX, United States 11-20-11
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    "Interesting premise but I was disappointed"

    The title and reviews made this book sound more interesting than it turned out to be. I heard about it on NPR and so purchased it. I was hoping for more interesting stories about how insects have affected history or changed humanity, but it felt more like a dry recital of facts most of the time. I did not finish listening to the book as I grew bored with it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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