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Dimensions:
190 × 135 × 13 mm
184 pages
Format:
Paperback
ISBN:
9781780239736
Illustrations:
89 illustrations, 59 in colour
Published:
16 Jul 2018
Series:
Animal

Bedbug Klaus Reinhardt

Few animals elicit such a profoundly honest response of horror, fear and fright as the bedbug. Uninvited, bedbugs invade your privacy; they enter your bed, leave their marks and take away your bodily fluid – blood. From fossils to ancient Greek theatre, modern horror fiction and the bitter battles of recent scientific research, Bedbug investigates the animal’s natural history and examines how ordinary people, travellers, artists and scientists have experienced and confronted bedbugs over the centuries.

Klaus Reinhardt explores how the fear of bedbugs has been institutionalized, leading not only to the development of pest control and research laboratories but to bedbugs becoming the Other, used to represent personal enemies, denigrate social classes and characterize parasitical villains. With a mix of amusing, repulsive and illuminating illustrations, Bedbug informs, entertains and even pledges for tolerance for a surprising and profoundly misunderstood insect.

‘Bedbugs have a familiar reputation as insidious bloodsucking pests that must be prevented from infesting humans' personal spaces. Yet few people, relatively speaking, have personal experience with them. Reinhardt covers bedbug evolution and biology by weaving the narrative into vignettes of public interest. Science combines with history, psychology, economics, culture, and society to inform, entertain, and advise readers, especially because bedbug incidence is expected to increase. Abundant illustrations include historical evidence of bedbug/human events in history and a wide range of social subjects, from marketing control measures to the unfair stigma connecting bedbugs to lower socioeconomic classes. Bedbugs in science, art, music, and literature provide a historical context from several perspectives. The bedbug is nearly universally perceived as a creepy, crawly, despicable critter originating somewhere else that humans can never reconcile with. The reality, as the author reveals, is less dramatic: the bedbug is a chronic but tolerable parasite endured by millions of people for millennia. Recommended.’ — Choice

‘This compact book not only provides a good scientific run down of this pest, but offers it in an amusing, and often light hearted, manner . . . The book traces bed bugs from fossils to ancient Greek theatre, modern horror fiction and the bitter battles of recent scientific research. It investigates the animal’s natural history and examines how ordinary people, travellers, artists and scientists have experienced and confronted bedbugs over the centuries.’ — Pest Magazine

Bedbug is another excellent addition to Reaktion’s highly acclaimed animal series. In this volume Klaus Reinhardt illuminates the biology of an old enemy and explores our attitudes to it across western history and culture . . . The book is richly illustrated with photographs, cartoons, posters and book covers, all of which add a cross cultural perspective to the informative text. Klaus Reinhardt has produced a thought provoking book that explores a twenty-first century entomological taboo, dispelling many of the myths that surround this insect and revealing a fascinating if not entirely welcome invertebrate. Perhaps we should, as Klaus hints, learn to to be more tolerant of our bedbugs.’ — Antenna

‘A pure reading pleasure.’ — Insect-Nytt, Norway


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Klaus Reinhardt is Professor of Applied Zoology at Technische Universität Dresden in Germany, and Fellow and former Vice President of the Royal Entomological Society of London. He has worked on the biology of bedbugs for fifteen years and is also author and editor of Literarische Wanzen (Literary Bugs).

Foreword

1 Bug Diversity
2 Bug Years
3 Bug Life
4 Bug Sex: Real and in Fiction
5 Itching to Succeed
6 Bug Dare
7 Declaring War on Bugs
8 The Other Bug
9 Bugging Forecast: Unknown, Disliked, Occasionally Intimate

Timeline
References
Select Bibliography
Associations and Websites
Acknowledgements
Photo Acknowledgements
Index