This is the first in a four book set. I thought it was a murder mystery using insects to solve the mystery. Oops. This is an insect version of Jaws.
American entomologists travel to Brazil to study insects in the rainforest. They take pictures of a large cockroach before they scatter. They take the pictures to a retired professor at the local university. The professor has written a number of papers on the insect he’s named Reptilus Blaberus. He shows them specimens he’s dissected and displayed. Under a microscope he shows that they have a primitive brain and spinal cord and reproduce with eggs inside the body like a reptile. They have a mouth and not mandibles and the front legs have sharp hatchets. What keeps the population down is that a fungus kills 80% of the adolescents before they become adults.
A man is discovered in a remote part of the rain forest and is nothing but bones with dozens of these Reptilus Blaberus around him. The bodies of the bugs make their way to the professor and he shares the find with the American entomologists. They decide to make an expedition into the rain forest to find the bugs, bring them back and figure out why they’ve changed from being in small numbers to now capable of eating a human. Are they predators or scavengers?
Here comes the Jaws part. Little do the Americans and the professor understand that when they get to the cabin where the man was found they’ve stopped being the hunters and are now the hunted.
Combine Leningen Verses the Ants by Carl Stephenson with Jaws and you have a bug that is your worst nightmare.