"Nobody loves a maggot."
Amy Stewart's got that right. No one I know loves mosquitos, ticks, lice, or stink bugs either. These creatures all do have roles in the kingdom and can be appreciated for their contributions, but that is not Stewart's theme in Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical Insects. She is out to remind us why we shun insects, arachnids, and other small creatures that invade the spaces we try to claim for ourselves.
Early in the book Stewart points out that there are many more of them than us, both in numbers and (even though they are small as individuals) in total weight. We can not and should not try to eliminate them. Several of her stories show how we do greater harm to ourselves when we over-react with physical and chemical attacks on our small companions. A British study has shown that in only three percent of insect related automobile accidents did an insect actually sting a driver or passenger. The other ninety-seven percent of accidents were caused by driver reactions to the presence of the insects. So, we need to stay calm and focused when dealing with bugs.
In some ways, Wicked Bugs is a reference book with entries for many common and exotic little creatures. There are also side topics, such as what creatures harm books (book lice and silverfish, but not book scorpions which eat the book lice and silverfish) or which insects can be used to make poison arrows. Because Stewart tells so many interesting stories, it also makes good listening as an audiobook. This is not a claim many reference books could make. You may, however, not want to listen to the audio or read the print during meals or right before going to bed.
Stewart, Amy. Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical Insects. Tantor Audio, 2011. ISBN 9781452602608.