Despicable Species: On Cowbirds, Kudzu, Hornworms, and Other Scourges

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Lyons Press, 1999 - Nature - 216 pages
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In fourteen revealing essays, Lembke ponders some of the most loathsome creatures with which we share the planet. But for every creature's nasty reputation, there is a silver lining, which Lembke, with dazzlingly researched bits of history, science, and culture, deftly brings to our attention. There is the European starling, that invader of nests and devourer of fruit crops -- the great mimic and inspirer of Mozart and Shakespeare. The grey squirrel, famed pillager of yards and bird feeders and vastly entertaining acrobat and problem solver. The horse fly, blood-sucking insect with a walloping sting, whose maggots exude chemicals that aid in healing human tissue. Mold -- the astonishing facts of fungi-sex revealed. That famous infant abandoner, the cowbird. The centipede. The hornworm. The opossum. The fruit fly. The microbe Pfiestreria piscicida, deadly to fish and man, of which there is little good to say, except that it necessitates our own clean-up of rivers -- or else. Kudzu. Sandspur. And, finally, our very own species.

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DESPICABLE SPECIES: On Cowbirds, Kudzu, Hornworms, and Other Scourges

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Lembke's (Shake Them ‘Simmons Down, 1996) rogues" gallery of hateful creatures—from fruit flies to sandburs—considered in their biological, mythological, literary, and aesthetic aspects to bevel our ... Read full review


European Starling
Pfiesteria piscicida

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About the author (1999)

Janet Lembke is the author of "Shake Them 'Simmons Down", "Skinny Dipping", "Dangerous Birds", "River Time", & "Looking for Eagles", & is a translator of Greek & Latin classics. She divides her time between Staunton, Virginia, & her home in North Carolina on the banks of her beloved Lower Neuse River.

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