Tag Archives: Biology

Wicked Plants, Wicked Bugs

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocitieswickedplantssm

To be honest, I don’t do very well with adult nonfiction.  I just can’t seem to get as engrossed with it as I do fiction.  However, I am hooked on Amy Stewart’s books.  Her books are strange and wonderful and riveting.

Wicked Plants is a fascinating collection of nature’s most dangerous and toxic plants.  Mother Nature does not play y’all.  I am pretty much allergic to everything on Earth so this just confirmed my healthy fear of plants.

Bet you didn’t know most common house plants are surprisingly noxious.  That peace lily in your house could cause nausea and skin irritation and the ficus tree can incite severe allergic reactions.  Kudzu has caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in the United States and even battle tanks couldn’t penetrate their rampant growth on a military base in Virginia.  Oleander, mandrake, killer algae and the stinging tree of Australia were a few of my favorite chapters as well.  The nightshade family is a very interesting genus.   I did not know tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant belong in the nightshade family along with belladonna and the poisonous jimsonweed.  Crazy sauce!

The illustrated etchings of the plants by Briony Morrow-Cribbs are an enchanting and lovely addition. If you love gardening, camping, being outdoors or you’re just like me and are captivated by the plant kingdom’s criminal element check out Amy Stewart.  She also has a book called The Drunken Botanist  I plan on starting soon.  Or keep going with Wicked Bugs!

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Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects

Now this one freaked me out.  You may be aware but humans are seriously outnumbered.  It is estimated that there are ten quintillion insects alive on the planet right now.  I didn’t even know quintillion was a word.  If insects decided to take over we would not stand a chance.

As much as they freak me out I can’t stand to squish a bug, I always feel so guilty.  They are pretty amazing creatures.  Except silverfish….I can’t stand silverfish.  ICK.

Amy Stewart explores the creepy crawly world of devilish and destructive bugs.  Bookworms were of particular interest to me as I am a librarian.  But the bullet ant (causes excruciating pain), the rat flea (did you know flea vomit is the true culprit in a plague epidemic?), Japanese beetles (deeply feared and loathed in the eastern U.S.) and the death watch beetle (Edgar Allan Poe refers to this one in his story “The Tell-Tale Heart”) were particularly intriguing.

Don’t get me started on the bed bug chapter…I just can’t…

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Also, it’s quite remarkable how many insects there are where the female eats the male after or during mating. The insect world is a bizarre and fantastical place to read about and Amy Stewart does a wonderful job in exploring their dark side.

Formats Available: Book, e-Book, Downloadable Audiobook, Playaway

Reviewed by Heather, St. Matthews