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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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The Life and Vision of Edward F. Knipling Concerning the Eradication of the Screwworm
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1 - Presented by Dr. E. B. Knipling
2 - Life and Family
3 - USDA Career
4 - Sterile Insect Technique
5 - Influential Colleagues and Collaborators
6 - Eradication of the New World Screwworm
7 - Awards
8 - Post Retirement: Beyond Screwworm
9 - Area-Wide Pest Management
10 - Relevant USDA Research
11 - E.F.K's Vision and Legacy
12 - Leading America towards a better future through agricultural research and information
USDA Career

 

 
Other than working on his family’s farm, my father spent his entire working life having just one employer—the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He began this career in 1930, after graduating from Texas A & M, when he took a temporary job as a field hand in Mexico studying the pink boll worm on cotton.
 
While at Iowa State University, my father met Dr. E.W. Lockey from the USDA. Lockey offered him a job on screwworm trapping and population monitoring at Menard, Texas, beginning in 1931. He worked at Menard on an intermittent basis over a period of nine years that was punctuated with continued graduate studies and duty assignments on screwworm in Georgia and other livestock insect pests in Illinois and Iowa.
 
In 1935, at Menard, my father first met and began work with his long-time friend and colleague, Dr. Raymond C. Bushland. At the time, their research concentrated on treating cattle for screwworm maggots, or “wormies” as ranchers called them, after they had already invaded open wounds. Such treatments were called “smears”. My Dad realized that you could never really control screwworms that way; what was needed was some measure to prevent adult flies from infecting the animals in the first place. It would take a number of years, however, before this idea would take form and be realized. More on this later.
 
In addition to studying the screwworm, during the early years of his career he also directed research on mosquito biology and control in Pacific Northwest during the period 1940-1942.
 
When World War II began, he was transferred from Portland, Oregon, to Orlando, Florida. There he led a USDA research team assembled to work with the U.S. Army to develop repellents and controls for biting insects (e.g., flies, mosquitoes, lice) that vectored diseases such as typhus and malaria, which posed a threat to U.S. and Allied forces. This work led to the development of the insecticide DDT, which we all know has a legacy of its own. Although DDT is credited with saving millions of lives and doing much good for agriculture throughout the world, its adverse environmental effects which came to light in later years stimulated my father to continually envision more selective and environmental-friendly insect control strategies.
 
After the war, my father moved to Washington D.C. to become the Director of Research on Insects Affecting Livestock and Man. In 1953, he became the Director of Entomology Research for ARS. He served in that position until 1971. Following his retirement in 1973 he remained professionally active for the next 27 years as a scientific collaborator, up to the time of his death about two and one half years ago just a few days shy of his 91st birthday.

 

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Last Modified: 1/10/2005
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