Wicked Bugs

The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army and Other Diabolical Insects
Narrated by: Coleen Marlo
Length: 5 hrs and 4 mins
3.8 out of 5 stars (378 ratings)

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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

Critic Reviews

"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 listeners say about Wicked Bugs

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

fascinating and creepy

This book was fascinating and well narrated. Lots of information on bugs and their habits and the diseases they carry. I started this book during a power outage due to severe thunderstorms. Quite creepy.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Too Many Bugs not Enough History

Though the introduction claims this book is NOT a reference guide or to be used as one, that is how it is written and how it reads. It reads like an arbitrarily put together reference guide on "bugs," (in the broad sense), written by a non-scientist/non-doctor.
The book is long and gives a survey of hundreds of "bugs," to the point where they blend together and get confusing. As one reviewer said it would be better on paper.
As a result the individual entries/chapters are short and often contain only basic information.
From the title "The Louse that Conquered Napoleon." I was expecting detailed and interesting histories highlighting 10 or 20 bugs, and how they have changed human history.
Instead the chapter on the louse was only a few minutes long and simply said that Napoleon's army may have been weakened by Louse and the diseases they carried, so that they were overcome easily by the Russian winter. Then she moves on to another bug.
The narration was great! And the information was interesting if a little repetitive, so I give it two stars for that. But in general this book is a short bug encyclopedia written by someone who professes not to be qualified for such an endeavor and so it is not worth it.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Tick, tick tick, like The Tell Tale Heart by Poe.

Would you consider the audio edition of Wicked Bugs to be better than the print version?

Easier to understand.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The ticking is the Death Watch Beetle that taps on the rafters looking for a mate.
The only character is the narrator and she is very good. She has a precise voice that is soothing and easily understood. That is what is needed for this book This book is a compenduim of many of the wicked bugs known and their habits. It is wonderful to listen to but you might not want to leave the house, much less travel too far. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Don't bother

This might be better as an actual book rather than an audio book. What captured me in the title was "the louse that conquered Napoleon's Army," and I was thinking there would be good and quirky info about that. Well, not really. Each chapter gives technical info on some kinds of bug, and there is a story to go with each one, but the scientific info far outweighs the quirky info. I can imagine reading this book in print and being able to skim through the scientific info to get to the quirky stuff, and getting through it all during a short trip to Starbucks. Sadly, in an audio, there is no skimming, or at least it's very difficult. Also, the chapters on the audio did not match up with actual chapters, so skipping ahead to the next chapter didn't work. I'm sorry I spent a credit on this. It was definitely not worth it.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not enough....

I find the subject matter of this book fascinating and was looking forward to a good creepy bug book to haunt me for a bit. Unfortunately, it missed the mark two ways - 1) Not enough scientific detail - the descriptions of the insects and their behaviors were too brief. Fewer insects with more detail on each would've been better. 2) Not enough anecdotal or cultural references to make listening fun for more than a couple of hours. If there had been more "fun" stuff, I wouldn't have noticed the lack of educational content.

Although I was disappointed, I'm giving this selection 3 stars overall because I did enjoy sections of it, and it kept me interested enough to listen all the way through.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Better To Read This One

I don't know if the original book contains illustrations, but it's not a book well suited to audio. I give the reader credit for pronunciation of some challenging words, but it's awkward trying to follow what's basically a list of interesting (if not exactly scientifcally presented) factoids in this format.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting but my skin kept crawling.

This is an entertaining book, though she picked many bugs common to the more sciencey TV channels so I knew some of this already. I like bugs, so I was surprised how my skin still crawled at some of the descriptions though in my head I wasnt grossed out at all. People with weaker constitutions towards creepy crawlies should probably stay away from this book.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Bad, Bad.

After the first sction, this is like having a dictionary read to you. It also seems repetative.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting - would have been better on paper

This is a really interesting book about bugs. The narration is good. It reads like an encyclopedia though, so it may have been better in print. I do not regret listening to the entire thing and would recommend it for those who don't have the time to read the print version.

1 person found this helpful