EXHIBITS: Bugs That Made History

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Science  16 Jul 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5682, pp. 317
DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5682.317a

Textbooks focus on kings, queens, presidents, and generals, but insects and other arthropods have also helped shape the course of human events. Bugs get their due at the site Insects, Disease, and History from entomologists Robert Peterson of Montana State University in Bozeman and Gary Miller of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Almost everyone knows that bubonic plague spread by fleas upended European society in the mid-1300s, but the site's essays explore lesser-known episodes. For example, you can read how a 1914–15 outbreak of the louse-transmitted disease typhus prevented Austria from invading Serbia, possibly changing World War I's outcome. The site also offers a primer on bug-borne diseases such as yellow fever and leishmaniasis. Above, a World War II U.S. Army poster advises soldiers how to avoid the mites that spread scrub typhus.


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