The Silken Thread Five Insects and Their Impacts on Human History

by ;
Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 2021-09-10
Publisher(s): Oxford University Press
List Price: $42.61

Buy New

Usually Ships in 5-7 Business Days

Rent Textbook

Select for Price
There was a problem. Please try again later.

Rent Digital eBook

Online: 180 Days
Downloadable: 180 Days
Online: 365 Days
Downloadable: 365 Days
Online: 1460 Days
Downloadable: 1460 Days
Online: 1460 Days
Downloadable: Lifetime Access

Used Textbook

We're Sorry
Sold Out

This item is being sold by an Individual Seller and will not ship from the Online Bookstore's warehouse. The Seller must confirm the order within two business days. If the Seller refuses to sell or fails to confirm within this time frame, then the order is cancelled.

Please be sure to read the Description offered by the Seller.


Insects are seldom mentioned in discussions surrounding human history, yet they have dramatically impacted today's societies. This book places them front and center, offering a multidisciplinary view of their significance.

Diseases vectored by insects have killed more people than all weapons of war. Fleas are common pests, but some can transmit illnesses such as the bubonic plague. In fact, three pandemics can be traced back to them. Epidemics of typhus can be traced back to lice. Conversely, humans have also
benefitted from insects for millennia. Silk comes from silkworms and honey comes from bees. Despite the undeniably powerful effects of insects on humans, their stories are typically left out of our history books.

In The Silken Thread, entomologists Robert. N. Wiedenmann and J. Ray Fisher link the history of insects to the history of empires, cultural exchanges, and warfare. The book narrows its focus to just five insects: a moth, a flea, a louse, a mosquito and a bee. The authors explore the impact of these
insects throughout time and the common threads connecting them. Using biology to complement history, the book showcases the vital role these small creatures have played throughout time.

The book begins with silkworms, which have been farmed to produce silk for centuries. It then moves to fleas and their involvement in the spread of the plague before introducing the role lice played in The Black Death, wars, and immigration. The following section concerns yellow fever mosquitos,
emphasizing the effects of yellow fever in the Americas and the connection to sugar and slavery. After a section of the book that focuses on the importance of western honey bees, the book closes with a chapter that ties together these five insects. The Silken Thread thoughtfully analyzes the links
between history and entomology.

Author Biography

Robert N. Wiedenmann is Professor Emeritus of Entomology at the University of Arkansas. He received a BS in ecology and PhD in entomology, both from Purdue University. He was inspired to write this book after teaching a course at Arkansas called, "Insects, Science and Society." He is Past-President
of the Entomological Society of America.

J. Ray Fisher is a postdoctoral researcher of entomology at the University of Arkansas. He received a BS in Zoology from Auburn University, an MS in entomology from the University of Kentucky, and a PhD in Entomology from the University of Arkansas. He teaches and conducts research on the evolution
and diversity of arthropods.

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables

Section 1: Silk and Silkworm
Chapter 1: Moth Spit
Chapter 2: Silk Roads
Chapter 3: Silk Goes East and West

Section 2: Oriental Rat Flea and the Plague
Chapter 4: In Reverse Order—The Third Pandemic First
Chapter 5: Not Just the Plague
Chapter 6: Sorting Out the Plague
Chapter 7: The Plague, One More Time

Section 3: Lice in War and Peace
Chapter 8: Lice in War and Peace

Section 4: Aedes Aegypti and Yellow Fever
Chapter 9: The Bridge Connecting Silkworms to Mosquitos
Chapter 10: Yellow Fever in the United States
Chapter 11: The Caribbean, Carlos Finlay, Walter Reed, and Serendipity
Chapter 12: William Crawford Gorgas and the Panama Canal

Section 5: Western Honey Bee
Chapter 13: Six-Legged Livestock

Section 6: Typing the Silken Threads
Chapter 14: Tying the Silken Threads


An electronic version of this book is available through VitalSource.

This book is viewable on PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and most smartphones.

By purchasing, you will be able to view this book online, as well as download it, for the chosen number of days.

A downloadable version of this book is available through the eCampus Reader or compatible Adobe readers.

Applications are available on iOS, Android, PC, Mac, and Windows Mobile platforms.

Please view the compatibility matrix prior to purchase.