"Insects are the most successful form of animal life on earth. There are nearly a million different kinds (or "species") of insects known, and perhaps another two million species exist that have not been discovered and described. This is far more than the total number of different species of all other animals put together.

The number of individual insects is incredible. In and above a single acre of most soil there may be as many as a billion billion (1,000,000,000,000,000) insects living in the world right now-over 300 million insects for each man, woman, and child alive."

Issaac Asimov

Twentieth Century Discovery


Fire ants have gained a foothold in Tennessee, proving they can survive sub-freezing temperatures. Scientists previously believed the ants could only over winter in climates similar to their native South America. They are now established on 275 million acres in 11 southern states and Puerto Rico. But in 1992, USDA researchers discovered an isolated, 3,000-acre infestation of the pesky ants about 45 miles northeast of Chattanooga. The ants were thought to have been accidentally brought to the state in wood material from a pulp-processing factory.


Tube Mosquitoes:

London’s underground rail network, known as the "Tube," appears to be breeding ground for a new type of mosquito that has adapted to underground life. The current issue of the BBC’s Wildlife Magazine reports that the new species is being dubbed ‘molestus’ by British scientists. The subway’s warm and damp conditions have fostered the growth of the blood-sucking insects, which have developed a taste for rats and mice. The new mosquitoes are believed to have evolved from those that became trapped underground when the tunnels were dug a century ago.


New sting: Meat-eating wasps in West

Los Angeles-Large swarms of met-eating wasps are stinging people all along the West Coast.

The wasps "will snatch a piece of chicken right out of your hands," says state Food and Agriculture spokeswoman Jan Wessell.

A horse died after disturbing a nest of the yellow jackets-called meat bees.

"One sting is enough to kill a hypersensitive human," says entomologist George Pointar of the University of California, Berkeley. "Fifty to 75 stings could kill a normal human."

Experts say last winter’s mild weather allowed more wasps to survive. Also, an aggressive strain of wasps from northern Europe has settled on the West Coast.

Experts say last winter’s mild weather allowed more wasps to survive. Also, an aggressive strain of wasps from northern Europe has settled on the West Coast.

The imported wasps are much bigger and meaner than native yellow jackets.

Treatment: "Place cool compresses on the sting," says Dr. Ed Heneveld of Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee. "Then wait for our first winter storm because the cold will kill them."

Sally Ann Stewart

USA Today


"There are hundreds, if not thousands, of specialized little mites that live only in the bills of hummingbirds, for example. Who knows exactly how many there are, what they are doing there, how they live, or what they may be good for?"

Dr. Adrian Forsyth


"Insects and their relatives are the single most promising and untapped resource in terms of finding new pharmaceuticals from Mother Nature."

Dr. Thomas Eisner (Cornell University)


"Even the figure of thirty million species doesn’t quite convey the degree to which these creatures dominate our planet. University of Illinois entomologist Dr. May Berenbaum has calculated that a single termite colony can contain over a million individuals while a locust swarm can consist of a billion individuals. She estimates that there are ten quintillion (10,000,000,000,0000,0000,000) insects on the planet at any time. Clearly, known species of arthropods produce many potentially therapeutic compounds. ….

Mark J. Plotkin P.hD.

Medicine Quest



Book: "Bugs in the System" by M. Berenbaum

"The Natural History of Sex" by Adrian Forsyth

Book: "Microcosmos: The invisible World of Insects." By C. Nuridsany & M. Perenou

Book: "Megabugs" by Miranda MacQuitty with L. Mound

Book: "Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect That Shaped the American Frontier" by Jeffrey A. Lockwood

Book: "The Tent Caterpillars" by Terrence D. Fitzgerald



© 2001



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