With Halloween nearly upon us, the author of new book on bloodsucking creatures—vampire bats, bedbugs, leeches, and the like—leads the New York Times on a sanguivore safari. The world's bloodthirsty creatures vary enormously, as Bill Schutt details in Dark Banquet, and some are mere dabblers, but many specialists have evolved similar equipment: clot busters, natural painkillers—and very sharp teeth.
It's hard for large creatures to survive solely on blood, Schutt notes, so most bloodsucking creatures are on the smaller side. The largest are vampire bats, which rely on stealth rather than savagery to get their meals. The white-winged vampire bat, for instance, sidles up to chickens so softly the bird sweeps it under its wing as it would one of its own hatchlings. Closer to home, bedbugs are spreading like wildfire through the nation's homes.