Practical Entomology

For the human population of Latin America, as elsewhere in the world, competition from insects for food and fiber and interference with health and welfare are intense. Insects are injurious in several ways. Each is the subject of formal fields of study, representing compartments of the vast and complex subject of "practical" ("economic" or "applied") entomology. Insects are harmful by damaging growing crops and other useful plants (agricultural and forest entomology), by annoying and inflicting disease on humans (medical entomology) and domesticated animals (veterinary entomology), and by destroying useful products (stored product and structural entomology). The relationships of insects to man in population centers form another special topic (urban entomology).

The economic damage caused in these ways is incalculable in monetary terms and human suffering. Most entomologists in Latin America are employed to combat harmful species. The research literature in the field is immense. Because of the great size of the subject, only a brief review is possible here.

Although most publications in practical entomology deal with the temperate parts of the world (North America and Europe [Metcalf et al. 1962, Pfadt 1978]), comprehensive research on tropical pests has developed in recent years (Lamb 1974). The latter includes large parts of Latin America, yet references giving detailed information on regional economic entomology remain sparse and in many cases, outdated. Some lists and cursory reviews of problem species are available for specific areas. These include Bolivia (Squire 1972), Colombia (Gallego 1967, Posada 1976), El Salvador (Berry 1959), French Guiana (Remillet 1988), Guatemala (Alvarado 1939), Honduras (Koone and Bañegas 1958), Uruguay (Peluffo 1942), the West Indies (Wolcott 1933), and the Lesser Antilles (Ballou 1912).

Insects cause direct damage to humans through their feeding or by biting and stinging. Their mere presence may also be harmful, but they are more serious as vectors of organisms pathological to plants as well as to man and his domesticated animals.


Alvarado, J. A. 1939. Los insectos dañinos y los insectos auxiliares de la agricultura en Guatemala. Published by author, Guatemala City. Ballou, H. A. 1912. Insect pests of the Lesser Antilles. Comm. Agrie., Imp. Dept. Agrie. West. Ind. Pamph. Ser. 71: 1-210. Berry, P. 1959. Entomología económica de El Salvador. Min. Agrie. Gan. (Santa Tecla, El Salvador) Bol. Tec. 24: 1-255. Gallego, F. L. 1967. Lista preliminar de insectos de importancia económica y secundarios, que afectan los principales cultivos, animales domésticos y al hombre, en Colombia. Fac. Nac. Agron. (Medellín) Rev. 26(65): 32-66. Koone, H. D„ and A. D. Bañegas. 1958. Entomología económica hondurena. Min. Recurs. Nat. (Tegucigalpa) Bol. Teen. 6: 1 — 139. [Not seen.]

Lamb, K. P. 1974. Economic entomology in the tropics. Academic, London. Mf.tcalf, C. L., W. P. Flint, and R. L. Metcalf.

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