Mosquito: A Natural History of Our Most Persistent and Deadly Foe Hardcover – Jun 13 2001
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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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
Unfortunately the maps of the distributions of both mosquitoes and the diseases they carry are somewhat out of date.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.
If you are like me and seem to attract these buzzing beasts you will enjoy this book, although bear in mind it is rather technical and written mainly for the scientifically minded.
Some useful information includes:
-carbon dioxide and heat attracts them, (but it doesn't seem to be explained here why they seem to like some people more than others, or whether it is just that some people react to bites more than others),
-various species attack different parts of the body (eg some the ankles, some the head),
-some don't attack humans at all,
-some attack only humans and monkeys,
-colours vary-some are black and white striped, (these cause yellow fever), others are brown, others dominantly grey.
-the mosquito has had a significant effect on human history through various mosquito borne diseases (eg Dengue, Yellow Fever, Malaria, Encephalitus, and Rift Valley Fever).
-various mosquito-borne diseases are exclusive to birds, some cross from birds to man, some from horses to man, some from monkeys to man, etc.
Some historical plagues and the diseases transmitted by mosquitoes are described eg Dengue, Yellow Fever, Malaria , Encephalitus, and Rift Valley Fever. Historically, it was initially ridiculed that tiny organisms could carry tiny diseases, but careful observation and scientific method eventually won the day over 'folk psychology'. Mosquitoes, through recognition of their association with yellow fever and malaria, played a major part in the development of germ theory, and by association much of modern medicine.Read more ›
The first section of the book is entitled "The Magnificent Enemy." It is clear that Spielman, after decades of trying to understand mosquitoes and battling them, holds them in admiration as finely tuned specimens produced by the pressures of evolution. (He is also able to refer to them as "the little devils" when they turn up where they are not wanted.) You knew that only females draw blood (this is to produce the eggs of the next generation), but did you know that they mostly eat rotting fruit?Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book reads like scince fiction, yet it's plenty of facts about the huge impact of the mosquitos on humankind and our history. Read morePublished on May 30 2011 by Silvio Gallus
As far as I can tell, this is essentially the same book as "Mosquito: The Story of Man's Deadliest Foe. Read morePublished on Dec 4 2003 by Daniel M. Hobbs
Perhaps I was merely spoiled by the book I read right before reading this one (Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif), but I found this book thoroughly mediocre both in content and... Read morePublished on Aug. 26 2003 by Thomas R. Neely
This book was written by a scientist and a journalist yet it was never clear to me what the contribution of the journalist was. The book writing showed knowledge, but not skills. Read morePublished on July 1 2003 by Kindle Customer
This book is a must for students of history and disease,
natural history, and popular history. It is especially timely in
light of the spread of the West Nile virus and... Read more
It reads like a fast paced novel and I could not keep it down...
One is surprised by how much they learn from the book and it is a great read for anybody who has ever thought... Read more
This is fun book about a subject that everybody hates. Nobody likes mosquitos, they are annoying little beasts and some of them may just kill you. Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2002 by Marceau Ratard
I was fascinated,educated, mesmerized and horrified by this book.
It was a wonderful read!
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