1. John Ambrose, "Insects in Warfare," Army (December 1974): 33-38.

2. Greek mythology includes the story of the Myrmidons, created by Zeus. The god populated the island of Aegina by transforming the ants into a race of people. The Myrmidons were as fierce and loyal as the ants for which they were named (myrmi- means "ants"). According to legend, the ant-people fought alongside Achilles in the Trojan War (from the account provided by Encyclopedia Mythica at; accessed January 10, 2008).

3. Edward Neufeld, "Insects as Warfare Agents in the Ancient Near East," Orientalia, 49 (1980): 30-57.

4. Bees have an unusual genetic condition called haplodiploidy, which results in sisters sharing three-quarters of their genes with one another. Human siblings, on the other hand, have only a quarter of their genes in common.

5. Neufeld, "Insects as Warfare Agents."

6. Bernard W. Anderson, Understanding the Old Testament (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1960).

7. Roger S. Wotton's paper "The Ten Plagues of Egypt," in Opticon 1826, 11 (August 2007), provides a scientific explanation of the events; his publication can be accessed at Wotton_Plagues.pdf (accessed January 10, 2008). In addition, a reasonably concise and ecologically plausible account of the plagues of Egypt can be found in an excellent article at the University of Saskatchewan's Web site, e%20prt.pdf (accessed January 10, 2008). A similar description is provided via the Xyroth Enterprises Web site, (accessed January 10, 2008).

8. The precise translation is actually "vermin," although some texts refer to the creatures as "maggots." In either case, the most likely insect accounting for the passage would seem to be biting midges, based on what we know of the biology and ecology of the region and the aspects of preceding and subsequent events.

10. Technically speaking, insects are not vectors of disease; they are vectors of the pathogens that cause disease. Hence, biologists would insist that instead of saying, "Flies are vectors of African horse sickness," one should say, "Flies are the vectors of the virus that causes African horse sickness." Such precision requires an awkward wordiness, so in this book I'll refer to insects and their kin as vectors of disease. The reader is asked to understand that by this I mean that the creatures are transmitting the pathogen that is the cause of the disease.

11. See note 7. In addition, these explanations can be found in the National Geographic program The Bible Uncovered: Exodus (that aired in 2007 and 2008), in which I provided a segment on the plagues of Egypt that were directly attributable to insects.

12. Neufeld, "Insects as Warfare Agents."

13. Adrienne Mayor, Greek Fire, Poison Arrows and Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World (New York: Overlook Duckworth, 2003), chap. 6.

14. The African people provide perhaps the richest history of using bees as weapons. As recounted by Leonard Mosley, in Duel for Kilimanjaro: The East African Campaign 1914—18 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1963), during the First World War, Tanzanian natives, who were allied with their German colonists, set entomological booby traps for the British infantry. The Africans laced the bush with trip wires connected to the lids of concealed beehives. Adrienne Mayor (Greek Fire) describes an incident in the Second World War when, as Italian tanks rolled through the Ethiopian highlands, the Africans bombarded the invaders with beehives. Taking umbrage at this mistreatment, the insects assailed the drivers, and in the ensuing chaos, several tanks careened down the mountainside and were destroyed.

15. Neufeld, "Insects as Warfare Agents," and Ambrose, "Insects in Warfare."

16. Neufeld, "Insects as Warfare Agents."

17. David Whitehead, Aineias the Tactician: How to Survive under Siege, translation and commentary (Oxford, U.K.: Clarendon Press, 1990).

19. A taxonomic clarification is in order. The phylum Arthropoda includes a plethora of organisms, with the most familiar groups being Crustacea (the crusta ceans are represented by crabs, lobsters, shrimp, and barnacles), Diplopoda (the millipedes), Chilopoda (the centipedes), Arachnida (including the Acari or mites and ticks, Scorpiones or scorpions, Araneae or spiders, and several more obscure orders), and Hexapoda (the insects). The reader will hopefully forgive my expansion of entomological warfare to include those organisms that are not taxonomically speaking insects but bear biologically relevant and militarily important similarities such as a propensity to inject venom (scorpions and spiders) and to transmit microbial pathogens (mites and ticks).

21. Ibid. She notes that Aelianus's On Animals is available in translation in the Loeb Classical Library, published by Harvard University Press.

22. John B. Free, Bees and Mankind (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1982).

23. Ambrose, "Insects in Warfare."

26. Ambrose, "Insects in Warfare."

27. The possible role of bee boles in defense is addressed in Michael Burgett's course on "Plagues, Pests and Politics," with the relevant information at ent. (accessed January 10, 2008). Gene Kritsky of the College of Mount St. Joseph also provided insights concerning the placement and function of bee boles.

28. The account can be found in an article by Conrad Berube at the Apiservices (apicultural) Web site, (accessed January 10, 2008).

30. Tracey Rihll, Catapult: A History (Yardley, Pa.: Westholme Publishing, 2007), and Richard Holmes, ed., The Oxford Companion to Military History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), entry on "siege engines."

31. Ambrose, "Insects in Warfare"; Mayor, Greek Fire, chap. 6.

32. See note 27 and Andrew G. Robertson, "From Asps to Allegations: Biological Warfare in History, Military Medicine, 160 (1995): 369-373.

33. Ambrose, "Insects in Warfare."

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