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Insects As Weapons 160

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the preemptive-strike-against-koalas dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Timothy Paine, an entomologist at the University of California-Riverside, recently 'committed to the scientific record the idea that California's eucalyptus trees may have been biologically sabotaged, publishing an article [in the Journal of Economic Entomology] raising the possibility of bioterrorism.' Specifically, Paine argues that foreign insect pests have been deliberately introduced in the Golden State, in hopes of decimating the state's population of eucalyptus (especially the two species regarded as invasive, which 'are particularly susceptible to the pests.') In California's Bioterror Mystery, Paine (and scientists who are skeptical) make their arguments. What isn't in dispute is that the insect pests have already inflicted hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, making the story a cautionary tale about what might happen if a food or crop were intentionally targeted."
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Insects As Weapons

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  • by AaronW (33736) on Monday July 02, 2012 @07:51PM (#40522657) Homepage

    I won't miss eucalyptus trees. The condo complex over my back fence had one. It was constantly dropping branches in my back yard, some of them quite large. They're also a nightmare if they catch on fire [wikipedia.org]. They also tend to kill vegetation that grows under them due to the oil which drips from the leaves. They're considered an invasive species in California.

  • Carp a day-um (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mrex (25183) on Monday July 02, 2012 @08:05PM (#40522721)
  • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao@ho[ ]il.com ['tma' in gap]> on Monday July 02, 2012 @08:33PM (#40522871) Homepage

    Brazil's production of cocoa was greatly reduced after an epidemic of witch's broom in the early 1990s. Rumors spoke of sabotage by foreign producers, until a left-wing militant confessed bringing fungus-infected branches from Rondônia to Bahia to destroy the political power of the "cocoa barons".

  • by capt_mulch (642870) on Monday July 02, 2012 @09:07PM (#40523061)
    Best thing for the invasive Eucalypts is to cut them down and use them for firewood. In my experience they make the best firewood in the world, especially for outdoors dutch oven cooking and BBQs. The wood doesn't turn instantly into ash when burnt, instead they tend to form solid hot coals for a while and give an even heat. After moving to the Solomon Islands from Australia, one thing I miss is Eucalypt firewood.
  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Monday July 02, 2012 @09:59PM (#40523351)

    go back to africa and tell me that.

    or stay where ever your are which is probably not africa and stop bothering me about irrelevancies.

    I'm completely with you in so far as bad species. But they're not bad because they're invasive or not local. Mosquitoes aren't good in their natural habitat. They're f'ing annoying blood sucking insects that spread diseases... everywhere.

    Would I genocide mosquitoes? Absolutely. Ticks, leeches, basically any parasite, lamprays, and all sorts of other things that I'm very happy to exterminate. By all means, keep some DNA on file and possibly an isolated population in a lab... under lock and guard... the guards instructed to shoot anyone in the head that tries to release them. Not wound. Right between the eyes. Some of these species have caused MILLIONS of human deaths. Attempts to release some of them should be seen as attempted mega mass murder. You don't screw around with that. Right between the eyes.

    Sound extreme? It's really not. Some of these species have killed millions of people and even amongst the ones that haven't you're dealing with a whole branch of life that isn't our friend. Doubtless I'm going to get some 'circle of life' argument about how I should respect other living things or that everything has it's place. That's a load of crap. We need certain types of life to sustain the biosphere but parasites aren't amongst them.

    But what about species that are non-local that aren't bothering anyone? Leave them alone. Exactly how could a eucalyptus tree bother someone? Pollen allergies? I fail to see the problem with them.

    Long story short, I don't care if a species is local or not. I care if it's a threat to my community or is irritating while serving no actual purpose. If I don't need it and it's messing with me... well, that's a problem... for it.

    Amongst the many amusing failures to grasp reality are the people releasing wolves back into the American wild. This has happened a few times with the same result. The wolves are released. The wolves attack farmer's live stock. The farmers complain to the local government about the wolves. The local government tells them to suck it because the wolves are a protected species. The wolves suddenly disappear and no one can find them. Rinse and repeat.

    My view on the matter is not uncommon. It's not the PC view but then the PC view is merely what people say when they're being recorded. Amongst friends and family this is the conclusion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:09PM (#40523407)

    The Nazi's were working on insects as weapons for years under the watchful eye of Eric Trabe. We recruited him after the war where he ran New York's Plum Island Animal Disease Center.

    Right across the channel is the town of Lyme where the first people developed a strange disorder later called "Lyme Disease." Incidentally, ticks were Trabe's favorite pet project.

  • Poisoned wells (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:08PM (#40523681) Journal
    Sounds a lot like a modern day version of the old "poisoned wells" tale to me. Still good for spreading paranoia, xenophobia and hatred against "disbelievers"...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @04:36AM (#40525025)

    One thing that has evolved is our own lifetimes (to the consternation of rightwing evolution deniers) is a bacteria that eats NYLON. So yes, there will be some organism that eventually digests abandoned strip malls and dines on coal ash.

    Enjoy.

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