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From a world-renowned expert on mosquitoes and a prize-winning reporter comes a fascinating work of popular science -- a comprehensive study of the insect itself, its role in history, and its threat to mankind.
From its irritating whine to the sting and itch of its bite, the mosquito ranks near the bottom of mankind's list of favorite creatures. But these tiny insects, once merely a seasonal annoyance, now are capturing headlines worldwide as new information emerges about the diseases they carry, their migratory population, and their growing resistance to pesticides.
Harvard professor Andrew Spielman has dedicated his life to understanding this insect, a passion that makes him the perfect guide to their amazing world and the perfect author of this lively, accessible book that offers an intriguing and horrifying mosquito-eye view of nature and man. He explains where mosquitoes breed, and how they die, showing us their natural foes and man-made enemies while explaining the myriad diseases they bring to all corners of the world. Spielman offers colorful examples of how the mosquito has insinuated itself into human history, from the defeat of Sir Francis Drake's fleet to the death of thousands of Frenchmen working on the Panama Canal to the recent widespread West Nile panic in New York City. Filled with little-known facts and illuminating anecdotes that bring this tiny being into larger focus, Mosquito offers fascinating, alarming, and convincing evidence that the sooner we get to know this little creature, the better off we'll be.
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
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