New Book Highlights Medically Important Invertebrates that PMPs Should Know

New Book Highlights Medically Important Invertebrates that PMPs Should Know

The Guide to Venomous and Medically Important Invertebrates is co-authored by Harold Harlan, former NPMA staff entomologist.

January 2, 2019
Kierra Sondereker

While on active duty in the Air Force, David Bowles and James Swaby created a database of information about medically important invertebrates. As military entomologists and public health workers, Bowles and Swaby believed the information would be helpful not only to others like them, but for ordinary people as well, especially those who liked to travel.

The database existed on an Air Force website and then on the Armed Forces Pest Management Board (AFPMB) for 10 years so other colleagues could access the information. However, the database suddenly disappeared from ready access on the AFPMB server in 2008. A few years later, Bowles and Swaby reached out to Harold Harlan, another retired medical entomologist and former staff entomologist for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), and asked him to collaborate on assembling the database information about invertebrates into a book.

Harlan said he agreed to help write the book, Guide to Venomous and Medically Important Invertebrates, because he “feared that all that body of information would soon be lost from access by DoD personnel and anyone else, and maybe even from anyone’s memory.”

The book — which Harlan likes to think of as more of an “overviews of these critters” — features a broad range of hazardous invertebrates that live across the globe. Examples are given of most major taxa of medically important invertebrates along with their general biology and preventative measures. The creatures also are illustrated with more than 250 images. These pictures, Harlan said, will be especially helpful to pest management professionals working in the field.

“It is important for PMPs to be able to ID many commonly encountered pests, at least to higher taxonomic levels, and they often are expected by their customers to explain potential risks and suggest preventive measures,” Harlan said. “The 250 plus colored images and text in this book should help PMPs in many of those outreach information efforts, with fairly concise, scientifically sound details and personal protection suggestions.”

Harlan added that other particular features of the book, including the appendices on repellents and the concise lists of currently known vector-borne diseases that infect humans, are also good resources for PMPs.

“PMPs’ customers are becoming more concerned in general with vectors, blood feeders, and ectoparasites that affect themselves and their pets,” he said. “Information in this book should be helpful for answering such question, maybe even showing a customer some specific critters to avoid or be wary of.”

The Guide to Venomous and Medically Important Invertebrates can be ordered from the CSIRO web page: Alternatively, it can be purchased in digital form through various e-retailers’ links on the CSIRO e-books web page: Amazon is also currently offering this book in paperback and Kindle version at