Review of Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart

One evening in 2005 a man heard a rustling noise in a nearby stack of papers while watching television in his London home.  Thinking he had a mouse problem, the fellow removed some paper to find a 9 inch, multi-legged creature scuttling away.  Somehow he caught it in a bag and took it to London’s Natural History Museum for identification.  The resident entomologist nearly had a heart attack, for the beastie turned out to be a Giant Centipede.  The world’s largest, it grows to a foot in length and has poisonous claws that cause severe pain.  The Giant Centipede also demonstrates surprising intelligence; it seems the species can hang from the top of caves and catch bats in mid-air.

So how did a Giant Centipede, native to the South American tropics, end up in a London home?  A neighbor came forward, admitting that he had purchased the centipede at a pet store but that it had gotten out.

That’s just one of the wickedly creepy, fascinating and fun tales to be found throughout Amy Stewart’s book.  A sequel to her 2009 book Wicked Plants, the bugs incarnation is even more fun than the first title.

With excellent illustrations of the many crawlies by Briony Morrow-Cribbs, Wicked Bugs is a rollicking ride with a glorious cast of characters.  There’s the Asian Hornet, known by Japanese citizens as the “yak-killer” and with a sting described by a scientist as “a hot nail through my leg.”  That Napoleon scratched himself so bloody due to his frequent scabies outbreaks that soldiers in battle often feared that he had been wounded.  Formosan termites were likely a primary reason the New Orleans’ levies failed during Katrina, and on and on.

If you have any interest in wildlife or just love a collection of great information, you’ll love Wicked Bugs.  Just ensure nothing’s lurking under your chair first.

Code 451 Rating: 7 Good Read

By: James R White


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