Pest research
March 31, 2004 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm starting a research project on animal pests, and I'm interested in any and all information (and info sources) you may know of...[more inside]

The project is focused on the most common types of vermin: rats, mice, cockroaches, flies, mosquitoes, ticks, lice, and fleas. I want to look at this from as many different angles as possible, from historical/literary references (the Bible, Shakespeare, Kafka) to modern-day research findings and control methods, human health effects (the Black Death), psychology (our instinctive revulsion), you name it. AskMefi, show me your stuff!
posted by gottabefunky to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, Passover is coming up this Monday night, so take a look at the Ten Plagues to start with. They play a part in the Passover seder, whereby you dip your finger in your cup of wine, then drop some on your plate, once for each plague, while everyone at the table says the plague's name. Messy, but makes an impact. :-) Out of the ten, the ones that would be relevant to your search would include Frogs (!), Lice, Locusts, Beasts (vague, I know), and Pestilence. There should be a lot there and elsewhere in the Torah (er, first five books of the Bible) to start you off.

Locusts in particular show up a lot in the Bible--there's a lot of material for them alone. It would be interesting to see how they're invoked not only as insectoid agents of destruction, but also as a metaphor for creeping, colonizing forces, especially given the constant land turnover and invasions of various peoples in the Bible.

And if you want to get more into the disease/pestilence angle, there's always Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe.

And how about all those 50's sci-fi movies with giant mutated bugs, like "Them!"? On a similar subject, consider the humble cockroach: universally disgusting, but also admired in an odd way, especially for the oft-mentioned fact (also starting in the 1950's) that they'll survive a nuclear holocaust, whereas we won't.

Y'know, this actually sounds like a really fun research project. I think your problem may be in having to narrow the scope so you don't end up accidentally writing a book.
posted by Asparagirl at 4:53 PM on March 31, 2004

Digging a bit into my weblog archives produced these two posts that may prove useful:

The Japanese, it seems, have a long tradition of enjoying the calls of various insects (crickets and katydids), both in the wild and as caged pets. When modern Japan's urban landscape renders the keeping of insects impractical, people visit Insect Sound World, a repository of insect audio samples. See Also: Insect Musicians, Singing Insects of North America. is an astoundingly-detailed resource for insect information on the Web, including a section on the influence of insects on human culture. There's some interesting material, assuming you're not frightening of things with hundreds of legs.
posted by Danelope at 5:08 PM on March 31, 2004

How cool! I'm really looking forward to comments from others - I loves me some bugs. You didn't mention an art angle, but if I may be so bold:

Houber Tcherkelov makes art from bacteria, virii, squashed bugs, smashed mice, (and excrement, skin, blood, and embryos). How can you resist?

My tiny garden is all about the bug love.

From electron microscopes at the University of Hawaii: gorgeous colorized images of things creepy, crawly and germy. The 'more bugs' section is a must, for the close-ups of insect wings.

Photos of irridescent and shiny beetles, and many other bugs.

The Gallery of Bugs on Devices - very amusing. And creepy.
posted by iconomy at 6:02 PM on March 31, 2004

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