Vigilant And Ready

In today's world, entomological terrorism is not perceived as a clear and present danger. However, historical and recent events strongly suggest that western nations would be well advised to take seriously the possibility that insects could be used to attack people and agriculture. In this context, the United States has developed several lines of defense, but whether these are adequate is not at all clear. The first and arguably least effective tactic is the law.1 As early as the seventh...

Waking The Slumbering Giants

With 3 million lice-ridden Russian corpses and another 27 million people afflicted by typhus after the First World War, the Soviets could not have missed the potential of entomological warfare. In 1928, the Revolutionary Military Council initiated the weaponization of typhus. A top-secret institute was founded in the town of Suzdal under the control of OGPU, the forerunner of the KGB.1 In light of the risks associated with studying human diseases, the facility was transferred to a more isolated...

Alls Lousy On The Eastern Front

During World War I, the European continent provided history's largest experiment in entomological warfare tactics. For the first time, scientific understanding of insect-borne diseases allowed these agents to be exploited as passive weapons, demonstrating that the best offense could be a good defense. Rather than forcing the enemy into infested habitats, science provided the means for military leaders to protect their own forces from the ravages of disease-carrying insects that were part and...

Koreas Hailstorms Of Hexapods

The case presented by the North Koreans and Chinese in 1952 provides either irrefutable evidence that the United States engaged in the most comprehensive and systematic program of entomological warfare in modern times or compelling evidence that the communists had the most coordinated and insidious program of propaganda in memory. Or something intriguingly in-between. All that we know with absolute certainty is that the Korean War produced the most sensational accusations of the use of insects...

Insects As Tools Of Torture

The ancient Persians were perhaps the earliest people to use insects as torture devices. The gruesome practice of subjecting a condemned man to the boats was given the technical term scaphism based on the Greek skaphe, from which we get the word skiff, meaning a small, flat-bottomed boat .1 The victim was initially force-fed milk and honey to induce severe diarrhea. Then the poor soul was stripped, lashed to a skiff or hollowed out tree trunk so that his head, hands, and feet protruded over the...

Acknowledgments

This book is the result of four years of reading, research, conversations, interviews, and writing. Although I have many people to thank for their assistance, none of the acknowledgments should be interpreted as meaning that these individuals, their agencies, or their institutions agree with any of the claims made in this book. I should begin by thanking those at my own institution, the University of Wyoming, who lent their expertise to the project, including colleagues in the entomology...

Toxic Tactics And Terrors

Stinging insects proved decisive in ending many sieges and battles, but few military historians know that a war was started by a bee.1 In 637 ce, a rancorous fellow named Congal, heir to the throne of Ulster, was paying a state visit to the king of Ireland and his family. Domnall, the Irish king, was a gracious host, except for one small oversight he failed to put adequate distance between his beehives and his guests. As fate would have it, Congal was stung in the eye by an errant bee. If it...