Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures

By Bill Schutt

For hundreds of years, blood feeders have inhabited our nightmares and horror tales, in addition to the shadowy geographical regions of medical wisdom. In darkish dinner party, zoologist invoice Schutt takes readers on an interesting voyage into the area of a few of nature's strangest creatures--the sanguivores. utilizing a pointy eye and mordant wit, Schutt makes a remarkably persuasive case that vampire bats, leeches, ticks, mattress insects, and different vampires are as deserving of our interest as hotter and fuzzier species are--and that a lot of them are even ­worthy of conservation.

Schutt takes us from rural Trinidad to the jungles of Brazil to benefit approximately probably the most reviled, misunderstood, and marvelously developed animals on our planet: vampire bats. just recently has truth began to disentangle itself from fiction bearing on those striking animals, and Schutt delves into the myths and misconceptions surrounding them.

Examining the substance that sustains nature's vampires, Schutt finds simply how little we really knew approximately blood until eventually good into the 20 th century. We revisit George Washington on his deathbed to profit how principles approximately blood and the supposedly healing worth of bloodletting, first devised through the traditional Egyptians and Greeks, survived into particularly sleek occasions. Schutt additionally tracks the historical past of medicinal leech use. as soon as hired by means of the thousands and thousands to empty perceived excesses of blood, this present day the marketplace for those old creatures is booming as soon as again--but for terribly diversified reasons.

Among the opposite blood feeders we meet in those pages are mattress insects, or "ninja insects," that are creating a creepy resurgence in posh resorts and well-kept houses close to you. additionally, darkish dinner party info our harmful and infrequently lethal encounters with ticks, chiggers, and mites (the ­latter implicated in Colony cave in Disorder--currently devastating honey bees worldwide). Then there are the really weird--vampire finches. And when you inspiration piranha have been frightening, a few humans think that the candiru (or willy fish) is the easiest cause to prevent swimming within the Amazon.

Enlightening, alarming, and beautiful to our appreciate the weird, darkish dinner party friends right into a a part of the flora and fauna to which we're, via our blood, inextricably associated.

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And the extra cluttered your house is, the higher. ” I shot a brief look round Lou’s place of work. “So what you’re announcing is that I aren't drop this bottle. ” “No…that will be a foul thing,” the trojan horse specialist spoke back. I handed the jar again to the researcher, yet rather than putting it again on his table, he did anything bizarre. He introduced the lid of the jar as much as his nostril and inhaled (rather deeply, I thought). “Some humans say they odor like clean raspberries or cilantro. ” He held the bottle towards me. I took a small sniff. “Hmmmm,” I stated, no longer smelling a lot of whatever. “I constantly proposal they smelled like citronella,” Lou persevered. “Nowhere close to as robust as these yellow citronella ants, yet there’s a distinct similarity. ” I leaned over and took a a little greater hit, checking first to make sure we hadn’t inhaled a gap within the mesh. They did odor like citronella. The scientist motioned to my observe pad. “This is important,” he acknowledged. “There are sites and articles available in the market reporting that mattress insects don’t have a scent. That’s untrue—especially after they get riled up. ” I nodded, as I took a few notes. surprisingly, instead of the odor of mattress insects or their loss of scent, I’d been struck by way of the concept that anyone except myself had really sniffed these citronella ants. every one summer time while i used to be a child, the quarter-inch-long bugs may swarm in the sidewalk cracks in entrance of my condominium. that they had a particular scent, and once I stuck wind of it, I’d escape my motion figures and begin fishing for ants with a bit of straw. The enraged ants may emerge, a dozen or so at a time, clamped by means of their strong jaws to the NEST hazard that looked like clockwork every year to poke on the front to their colony. And similar to Lou’s mattress insects, the angrier the citronella ants turned, the enhanced the smell they produced. The entomologist’s voice jerked me again into the current. “In all probability, mattress insects liberate many alternative pheromones. ” along with chemical messages just like the aggression pheromone produced via the citronella ants I’d hassled as a child, different components published by means of the mattress insects functioned to cause them to much less palatable to predators. *96 “Humans can merely parent this kind of pheromones,” Lou persevered, putting his colony down at the desk. “Dogs, nevertheless, have a way more delicate feel of odor, and a few are literally being proficient to realize mattress malicious program infestations. ”*97 At a lecture backed by way of the hot York Entomological Society, a number of nights later, I discovered that researchers have been operating to spot the mattress insects’ aggregational pheromone—the chemical sign that will bring about the formation of unfastened teams by means of the mattress insects as they accrued of their nooks and crannies among nutrition. by way of keeping apart the explicit chemical that triggered mattress insects to combination, scientists was hoping to profit extra approximately this behavior—information which may be used to improve more desirable eradication tools. there have been round seventy-five humans found in the viewers that evening and so they appeared to be a mixture of pest-control kinds (there to choose up part a brand new York nation division of Environmental Conservation credits for his or her attendance) and town dwellers, both attracted to mattress insects or traumatized by means of them to varied levels of twitchiness.

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