Storytelling CD-ROM Documents Screwworm
Eradication Science By Len Carey,
January 31, 2001
The Agricultural Research Services
National Agricultural Library has
published a CD-ROM that tells the science story behind the eradication of the
screwworm--one of the great successes of agricultural research and American
The CD is called Stop Screwworms: Selections from the
Screwworm Eradication Collection. U.S.
Department of Agriculture entomologists Raymond C. Bushland and Edward F.
Knipling received the World Food Prize in 1992 for their development of the
sterile insect technique and other technologies which made possible eradication
of the New World Screwworm, Cochliomyia hominivorax (Coquerel), in the
United States, Mexico, and Central America as far south as the Costa
The National Agricultural Librarys CD-ROM is a multimedia
sampler of scientific reports and correspondence documenting the history of the
eradication effort, including USDA documentary films and excerpts from an
interview with Knipling.
The adult female screwworm mates only once and lays eggs along
the edges of wounds on warm-blooded animals. Left untreated, the egg masses
hatch into swarms of larvae, which consume the host's living tissue and fluids.
If the infestation remains untreated, the host animal has little chance of
surviving the secondary infections that often follow.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the U.S.
livestock industry benefits by more than $900 million a year as a result of the
eradication of the screwworm. A 1995
University study evaluated the direct benefit to Central American livestock
producers at $73 million a year and overall economic benefits to the region at
$257 million annually.
Added benefits include improved human and animal health,
increased standards of living, a better chance of survival for endangered wild
species, and reclaiming land for grazing.
ARS is the chief
scientific research agency in USDA.
Contact: Susan H. Fugate,
Special Collections, ARS
National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, Md., phone (301) 504-5876, fax (301)