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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SURVEILLANCE AND ECOLOGY OF MOSQUITO, BITING AND FILTH BREEDING INSECTS

Location: Mosquito and Fly Research Unit

Title: Insects of war, terror and torture

Author
item Linthicum, Kenneth

Submitted to: Nature
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 1, 2008
Publication Date: November 6, 2008
Citation: Linthicum, K. 2008. Insects of war, terror and torture. Nature. 456:36-37.

Interpretive Summary: Six-Legged Soldiers, a book by Jeffrey Lockwood, is an excellent account of the impact that insects and other arthropods, and the diseases that they transmit have had on military operations. The discussions of how we are prepared, or not, for future threats from military operations, accidental introduction or bioterrorist events are pessimistic. But the book highlights the need for further research to prevent, detect and mitigate insect and vector-borne disease introductions, and to prevent globalization of entomological threats. This book will inspire readers to better understand those threats and prepare new methods to combat them.

Technical Abstract: From plagues to malaria transmission, insects and other arthropods have been natural or intentional health and agricultural threats to military and civilian populations throughout human history. The success or failure of military operations frequently has been determined by correctly anticipating insect and vector-borne disease threats, and then mitigating against them. Recognizing this, the world’s military employs on active duty a large cadre of scientists with entomology or other preventive medicine expertise. The book Six-Legged Soldiers describes many potential or actual uses of insects as offensive weapons of warfare during the last 100,000 years, with emphasis on the last 300 years. Entomologist Jeffrey Lockwood describes the use of stinging and highly toxic insects and other arthropods to cause pain and suffering to military foes. The discussions of how we are prepared, or not, for future threats from military operations, accidental introduction or bioterrorist events are pessimistic. But the book highlights the need for further research to prevent, detect and mitigate insect and vector-borne disease introductions, and to prevent globalization of entomological threats.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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