What Makes a Pest a Pest?Listen 49:30
Pests: We know them when we see them. The mice that lurk in our kitchens, the squirrels that steal our tomatoes, the mosquitoes that bite us in the summer, and the pigeons that flutter around busy city streets. And yet, in other places and times, a lot of these animals are anything but pests. They could be seen as beloved pets and important working animals, or even be revered.
So what is it exactly that defines a pest? On this episode, we investigate that question, looking at animals ranging from your everyday pigeons and rats — to more exotic creatures like Burmese pythons and Bobbit worms. We talk with a science writer who’s done a deep dive into the science of pests, find out why one mosquito researcher loves the world’s most hated insect, and hear the story of one man’s epic battle against the sea’s most disturbing creature.
Also heard on this week’s episode:
- We talk with Cornell entomologist Laura Harrington about why mosquitoes are so good at surviving — even in the winter, how they procreate, and what we can do to keep them away from our homes.
- Reporter Alan Yu tells the story of how entomologist Autumn Angelus — who works in mosquito control — came to love the bugs everyone else hates.
- We hear the epic tale of the Bobbit Worm Chronicles — one man’s harrowing journey to defend his aquarium against the ocean’s creepiest pest. Reported by Liz Tung.
Segments from this episode
WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.