Lots of insects suck blood, but one species above all others has a reputation, out of all proportion to its size: the mosquito. Due to the diseases they carry and inject, mosquitoes are responsible for more human deaths than any other animal. The most deadly of these diseases is malaria, which although eradicated from much of the northern hemisphere, continues to pose a mortal threat in developing countries. Two billion people a year are exposed to malarial infection, of which over 350 million succumb, and nearly 700,000 die, the majority in sub-Saharan Africa.
In Mosquito, Richard Jones recounts the history of mosquitoes’ relationship with mankind, and their transformation from a trivial gnat into a serious disease-carrying menace. Drawing on scientific fact, historical evidence, and literary evocation, the book provides a colourful portrait of this tiny insect and the notorious diseases it carries.
Mosquito offers a compelling warning against the contemporary complacency surrounding malaria and other diseases in western society, whilst also exploring the sinister reputation of the insect in general. Written in an accessible style for a broad readership, this book will appeal to all those with an interest in tropical medicine and disease, as well as anyone pestered in the night by the annoying, familiar whine of this diminutive airborne adversary.
‘Combining biology with erudite social history in this beautifully illustrated monograph, Richard Jones writes with infectious enthusiasm about an insect that causes incalculable human misery . . . Jones’ narrative weaves accounts of faltering scientific progress – such as the now-notorious use of DDT (cheap, effective but environmentally disastrous) – into a tapestry of cultural references, highlighting the influence of this troublesome insect on human affairs.’ – BBC Wildlife Magazine
‘Mosquito turns the table on inter-species power relationships in a grimly fascinating way . . . the book is a gem. Even his quite detailed account of scientific breakthroughs in deciphering the link between mosquitoes and malaria is exciting.’ – TLS
‘Richard Jones has produced a book that explores the biology of these familiar flies whilst revealing their place in our social and cultural history. The book is lavishly illustrated with a diversity of images ranging from entomological illustrations to public health posters and advertisements for insecticides which document the changes in our view of these insects . . . Mosquito offers an unbiased perspective of an insect that we all love to hate, it should illuminate and entertain anyone with an interest in exploring our relationship to the natural world.’ – Antenna
‘full of interesting information. [Mosquito] begins with etymology, continues with an explanation on why and how mosquitoes bite, how they orient to host, their life-cycles, where they breed, their morphology, how many species there are and where they exist in the world and what can now be used to destroy them. All of this presented with a historical background . . . It is a book that will appeal to a wide range of readers.’ – European Journal of Entomology
‘an incredibly informative book . . . [Jones] has an easy writing style, often resulting in me guffawing due to some of the obscure facts that he has sourced for us . . . a very enjoyable read to introduce people to the incredibly diverse but important world of the mosquito.' – British Journal of Entomology and Natural History
‘The author has adopted a breezy, conversational style that indulges digressions into popular culture, and he is not committed to a chronologically ordered presentation of information. With cheery British wit, he imparts interesting facts about the mosquito, the development of mosquito studies within the field of entomology, mosquito-borne disease, and representations of the mosquito in Western popular culture . . . there are fascinating facts and tidbits of information to be gleaned – indeed savored – from the text. Richard Jones lucidly explains the biological classification of mosquitoes, the mechanism by which female mosquitoes suck blood, and the mysteries of mosquito flight. He makes the point that Anopheles gambiae, the most efficient mosquito vector of malaria, is the most dangerous animal in the world . . . Readers of different ages and educational backgrounds will find pleasure in perusing this short volume.’ – Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Richard Jones is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London and the Linnean Society of London, and was President of the British Entomological and Natural History Society 2001-02. He has published a number of books on insects and wildlife including Nano Nature (2009) and Extreme Insects (2010).
World Rights: Reaktion Books