Submitted to: American Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 14, 2005
Publication Date: November 28, 2006
Citation: Weber, D.C. 2006. The botanist and the vintner” [book review]. American Entomologist. Vol 52, 200-201.
The article reviews the recently-published book, “The Botanist and the Vintner,” concerning the history of the grape phylloxera, a key pest of grapes. The book is a fascinating popular history of the invasion of the grape phylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae (Fitch) (Hemiptera: Phylloxeridae)) to France, the catastrophic consequences for the vines, and the chaotic but ultimately successful recovery from the introduction of this exotic pest in the last part of the 19th century. This accidental introduction is one of the earliest examples of invasive exotic insect species and their devastating effects. It was eventually solved by replanting with rootstocks having American parentage, grafted with European (vinifera) scions. The phylloxera history illustrates several important principles important to this day. One, simply, is that knowledge of underground fauna lags behind the more obvious, easy-to-study taxa. Second, quarantine is always fraught with human issues such as education and enforcement, and these problems are aggravated by problems of detection, which can be acute for cryptic pests. Related to this is that chemical control alone will not achieve eradication for all but the most restricted and obvious pest invasions. The most important lesson though, is that science with important practical implications is ipso facto political, and those whom we now call “stakeholders” must be engaged and convinced of the wisdom and fairness of activities that impact them, preferably by scientists themselves.