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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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  • considering it targets invasive non local species

    although introducing another non native species to counter another one could and often does backfire

    -I'm just saying
    • by k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) on Monday July 02, 2012 @08:29PM (#40522843)

      TFA appears to be trolling for search engine hits with the use of "terror" or "terrorism" in the article and the title itself (California's Bioterror Mystery). Really, terrorism should be something that at the very least causes you to have qualms, if not outright fear, about your safety.

      For example, you might have second thoughts about riding an airplane because of some extremist hijacking it and blowing it up. Ditto for visiting the mall or drinking tap water because somebody might have laced the water supply. But this one? The only terror I see is of the trees falling over and crushing the poor pedestrian standing right next to it. I'm not a koala, so I'm not going to be losing sleep over the loss of my favorite supply of mint.

      To be sure, the title of the scientific paper on which the article is based sounds less sensationalistic (unfortunately, a subscription is necessary to read the paper itself):

      After a long period of sitting on the findings, Paine finally published the paper, Accumulation of Pest Insects on Eucalyptus in California: Random Process or Smoking Gun, in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

      • by steveha (103154)

        I agree. The word "sabotage" would fit the bill perfectly for events as we understand them.

        More sensationally, "bio-warfare" could arguably be used (because if we can have a War on Drugs or a War on Poverty, why not a War on Eucalyptus Trees).

        But I think "bio-sabotage" or just "sabotage" is the word.

        P.S. Wikipedia has an article on sabotage [wikipedia.org], and that mentions ecotage [wikipedia.org]. But rather than meaning "ecological sabotage", ecotage means "sabotage intended to interfere with damage to the environment".

        steveha

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Monday July 02, 2012 @08:41PM (#40522921) Homepage Journal

      although introducing another non native species to counter another one could and often does backfire

      Man, tell me about it. Here in Chicago we've got the Japanese Longhorn beetle, Asian carp and zebra mussels wreaking havoc on our ecosystem.

      People think you can do any goddamn thing you want to nature and the world's always going to be hospitable to humans.

      The hundreds of thousands of people dealing with unprecedented wildfires in Colorado and the hundreds of thousands without power in 110 degree heat on the East Coast thanks to some unprecedented storms might have something to say about that. I've been alive since the Eisenhower administration and I've never seen >95 degree heat in March before this year. 100 mph winds yesterday right here and 100,000 people without power here in Chicago in 100 degree heat. I'm not saying that these anecdotes are evidence of global warming, but something definitely seems a little haywire.

      I'm not even saying that Al Gore is right about anything, but the people who have been having such a great time ridiculing him for the last 10 years maybe owe him a little humble apology, just for being assholes. Right or wrong, if somebody says, "You're house might be on fire," you really at least ought to see if there are any flames and smoke before saying, "Oh, that's bullshit."

      • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Monday July 02, 2012 @09:14PM (#40523097) Journal

        You've got japanese beetles?

        We've got this natural predator of the japanese beetle here in Australia, called the Cane Toad. Let us know if you want a few million or so.

        • by snspdaarf (1314399) on Monday July 02, 2012 @09:31PM (#40523185)
          Already have them in Florida. Why would we want cane toads that try to drink all our beer?
        • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @08:21AM (#40526115) Homepage Journal

          We've got this natural predator of the japanese beetle here in Australia, called the Cane Toad. Let us know if you want a few million or so.

          Forget it. I've been to Australia and half the wildlife there is poisonous. Visited a friend who lives on the edge of a big national forest and we were walking along and he started telling me what to look out for.

          I ended up locking myself in my room and lying in the fetal position until it was time to fly back to Chicago. I mean, Australia's a great place, great people, but until you kill off all that poisonous wildlife, forget about it.

      • People think you can do any goddamn thing you want to nature ... people dealing with unprecedented wildfires in Colorado

        Look, the people of Colorado are as careful as anyone with how nature is handled.

        The fires have nothing to do with that. Mix a drought (which is not uncommon in a semi-arid high desert, which is what the front range IS) and a lot of vegetation designed to be burnt (pine trees) and you have huge fires.

        Yes it sucks but it's not the fault of people the forests are on fire.

        • by demachina (71715) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @12:03AM (#40523903)

          I think he may have been arguing that global warming and climate change might be a possible source of the record breaking heat wave and drought, and that global warming may be due to people burning fossil fuels. It is certainly a possibility though its obviously hard to prove definitively (and certain to ignite a troll fest on /. if the leftist and rightists smell the global warming blood in the water).

          It is pretty well established that people did get over zealous in preventing forest fires for most of the last century and it was a really bad idea, since forests need to be burned off at regular intervals with low intensity fires. If you dont and let brush build up and trees get too dense then when they happen now they explode and are much more dangerous and destructive. Its also true that when people building houses in brush filled canyons and in dense forest they are pretty much asking for their homes to eventually burn. Putting wooden shingles on a house, also pretty much begging to lose your home to a forest fire. Not clearing trees and brush from the immediate area around your house, strike three.

          The environmentalist backlash against logging has also helped contribute to forests that are too dense, especially when coupled with aggressive forest fire prevention.

          I seem to recall a few months ago one researcher had a theory that the debris field in the Pacific from the tsunami from Japan was causing a significant hot spot in the Pacific and could be altering the climate this year, though that would also be hard to prove. If it were true then it would be because people built houses on a tsunami plagued coast though needless to say people don't cause tsunamis.

        • [A] drought... which is not uncommon...

          Droughts are uncommon by definition. ("A prolonged period of abnormally low precipitation; a shortage of water resulting from this," according to Google.)

          If a drought becomes common or normal, then it's just the new climate and isn't called a drought anymore.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          Look, the people of Colorado are as careful as anyone with how nature is handled.

          Are you joking? There is a constant fight for the most basic environmental protections. You can find all sorts of mining, drilling, dumping and burying going on in Colorado.

          Yes, there are a lot of Colorado people who care a lot about their environment, but when you see the amount of money that serial polluters like the Koch Brothers have dumped into Colorado politics, there's just no way they can be effective. And now, than

      • by Troed (102527)

        I've been alive since the Eisenhower administration and I've never seen

        Extreme weather events over the last 2000 years. "Happy" reading:

        "462 A.D. The Black Sea froze completely"

        "An extreme weather event took place in 535-536. The effects were widespread. It caused unseasonable weather, crop failures and famines worldwide."

        "680 A.D. In England, there was famine from a drought that lasted for three years."

        "In 1063, the River Thames in England was frozen over for thirteen weeks. All the rivers of the continent were frozen, and even south of the Alps, the Po River in northern Ital

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          "In 1125, excessive constant daily rains the whole summer in England. Hence the most terrible famine through the whole nation on man and beast.

          So, you've got to go back to 1125 AD to find events this bad? Ayii!! We're all gonna die!!

          Seriously, didn't the plague come shortly thereafter?

          And those "extreme weather events" you list there are for year. We've got an extreme weather event that's lasted like a decade now.

          • by Troed (102527)

            Hmm. I'm not sure that's my takeaway after having read that whole list. On the contrary, I've experienced nothing in my life time that's as extreme as listed there having happened numerous times during the last few centuries.

            I think I was after the anecdote vs data angle - although all the data we have that far back are anecdotes ;)

            • by HiThere (15173)

              It's probably correct, more or less. The climate isn't constant, and back around 1200-1300 there was a period called the "little ice age". Among other things, it wiped out the Norse colony in Greenland. For that matter, we've just recently left the "little climatic optimum". (I think around 20 years ago now.) This means that we can expect increased storms and unexpected weather. Basically things just get a bit less predictable. It *doesn't* predict that the changes will be in any particular direction

      • by RockDoctor (15477)

        Man, tell me about it. Here in Chicago we've got the Japanese Longhorn beetle, Asian carp and zebra mussels wreaking havoc on our ecosystem.

        You're forgetting the most destructive invasive alien species of the lot - an anthropoid primate introduced from East Africa which has for certain devastated the local flora and is quite likely for decimating the fauna about 10000 years ago. And which look to continue with it's hugely destructive ways until it makes the environment uninhabitable for itself as well as an

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          an anthropoid primate introduced from East Africa which has for certain devastated the local flora and is quite likely for decimating the fauna about 10000 years ago.

          Yes, but I think only the males of that species are really dangerous.

  • 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.

    • by Karmashock (2415832) on Monday July 02, 2012 @08:16PM (#40522775)

      Fairly common for many species actually. Pine trees and oak trees have a similar effect. And pine trees actually want to burn. Fire is part of a pine tree's life cycle.

      One thing you can say about eucalyptus is that they smell nice.

      And does anyone really care what is and isn't an invasive species?

      We're an invasive species. Does this look like Africa to you? What is really relevant is if you want that species there in the first place. Trees are very hard to complain about as an invasive species. They don't grow very quickly. If you see one growing in your back yard and would rather it not... cut it down with a 10 dollar saw. If you have one already in your backyard.... cutting it down might be pricy. But that's true of any tree care.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        Invasive species upset the natural balance between native species.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 02, 2012 @09:44PM (#40523243)

          Invasive species upset the natural balance between native species.

          The "natural balance between native species" is just an intellectual construct. Before man arrrived, land bridges would form, stuff would cross and wipe out other stuff. Think of transocianic shipping as just another land bridge.

          What this really boils down to is that some people think the human impact on other species should be managed one way, and some people don't think it should be managed quite so much.

          In this regard, humans are most likely unique. When dinosaurs began dominating and changing ecosystems they didn't, as far as we know, contemplate whether or not they should try to preserve other species. They just ate and pooped, and probably wiped out some things.

          Go back further. Oxygen? It's the toxic waste of the planet's first inhabitants.

          For all we know, there's some future organism breeding now that thrives on coal ash and abandoned strip malls.

          • In this regard, humans are most likely unique. When dinosaurs began dominating and changing ecosystems they didn't, as far as we know, contemplate whether or not they should try to preserve other species. They just ate and pooped, and probably wiped out some things.

            Hey there mighty brontosaurus
            Don't you have a message for us?
            You thought your rule would always last
            There were no lessons in your past.

            Fifty million years ago
            They walked upon the planet so
            They live in a museum
            It's the only place you'll see 'em.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            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.

          • by HiThere (15173)

            The thing to remember is that:

            You know that "future organism breeding now that thrives on coal ash and abandoned strip malls"? We won't llike the environment that they create.

            Actually, that's too strong a statement. There's a microorganism that eats polyethylene, jet fuel, etc. and the only thing we've really needed to do so far is ensure that jet fuel is THOROUGHLY dehydrated. (It tends to clog jet engines, otherwise.) But we're quite likely not to like it.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Invasive species upset the natural balance between native species.

          Define "natural".

          Then explain what "balance" is, and why it's preferable.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Karmashock (2415832)

          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

          • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:10PM (#40523411)

            >>>Would I genocide mosquitoes? Absolutely. Ticks, leeches, basically any parasite, lamprays, and all sorts of other things that I'm very happy to exterminate.

            The frog and spider population would plummet. They might even go extinct (some frogs are already near extinction). When you add or remove a species, you upset the balance. Let's take rabbits for example: They overran Australia because they had no natural predator. Rabbits everywhere.

            • by Livius (318358)

              Valid point. But I'd still make an exception for mosquitoes.

            • by Karmashock (2415832) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:16PM (#40523699)

              Nonsense.

              There are plenty of other insects for them to feed upon. I'm sure somewhere there is a frog that depends upon mosquitoes but that's such a tiny portion of our ecosystem you can't even pretend it matters. Not even to that habitat.

              This whole notion that if any species dies the whole system collapses is idiotic. Species die all the time... NATURALLY. And the ecosystem thrives.

              Wipe out all the parasites and doubtless there will be some unintended consequences. But the price will be vastly cheaper then what we're paying with the status quo.

              • by onepoint (301486)

                I was hoping that someone would say what you said.

                so let's look at the outcomes. the removal of a known threat which causes an estimate-able amount of deaths, swap that for an unknown threat due to environmental changes. I'll use as a good example wolves re-introduced back into yellowstone.
                we all know that plant eating animals ( deer, moose ... ) were left a lone for 30+ years, over those years we saw overgrazing and certain plants growing while others were not taking hold. ( they were eaten ). When wolves

                • "but nature took them out slowly and found a replacement"

                  Please don't anthropomorphise "Nature". "Nature" doesn't replace anything. (And note my sig: Tennyson in 1844 knew more about evolution than a lot of educated people do today. And yes, evolution as an idea was well established before Origin was published; Charles Darwin got some of his ideas from his grandfather Erasmus.)

                  • by drinkypoo (153816)

                    "but nature took them out slowly and found a replacement"

                    Please don't anthropomorphise "Nature".

                    Please don't be a tool. You can substitute the words "natural processes" for "nature" here quite logically, and then the sentence makes perfect sense. Since that's often what people mean when they say "nature" you're doing them a disservice by assuming they are anthropomorphizing anything.

            • The frog and spider population would plummet.

              Would they? Or would other insects just fill the space that mosquitoes were in? Nature abhors a vacuum. I think that you would just end up with frogs and spiders eating something else that had filled the ecological space.
      • by evanism (600676) on Monday July 02, 2012 @08:38PM (#40522907) Journal

        "Fairly common for many species actually. Pine trees and oak trees have a similar effect. And pine trees actually want to burn."

        I'd say most trees want to burn. Its a side effect of being made of WOOD.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          I guess you've never tried to get green wood to burn. It can be done, but it's not easy.

          • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Monday July 02, 2012 @09:20PM (#40523119) Journal

            Eucalyptus foilage is highly flammable when green; the oil in the leaves is the thing. Fire tends to strip the tree, but leaves the acorns able to sprout. The only thing that seems to kill them here in Aus is a grub infestation followed by a small flock of rather large black cockatoos. Those birds will tear the tree completely apart; they usually fall over a day or two after the birds arrive. I've seen this happen a couple of times myself, down in our old property in Tasmania.

            • Eucalyptus foilage is highly flammable when green; the oil in the leaves is the thing. Fire tends to strip the tree, but leaves the acorns able to sprout. [...]

              Acorns? I think the term you're looking for is epicormic bud [wikipedia.org].

            • by CAIMLAS (41445)

              I'm not a CA native. This Spring when these Eucalyptus trees have foliage was nice and moist, I almost always had the instant reaction of "someone's gas tank is leaking". They are incredibly odorous, having strong ether odors. The wood itself also burns incredibly hot and lights easily, even when freshly cut. Combine them with the poor/lazy forest management policy for the NFS and in California specifically, and you've got a pretty big fire hazard. It's quite disconcerting.

      • by HiThere (15173)

        Correction: SOME species of pine trees actually want to burn. This isn't, by any means, true of all of them. I don't think it's even true of most. It's also not alone in that preference. (If you want a quick guess, look a a ripe pine cone. It the cone is splay, then it doesn't want to burn. If it's tightly closed, then it likely does.)

        • Depends. From what I've seen, the local species out here in california drop tightly bound cones but they do open up eventually without fire.

          if they didn't the species would die out. We are generally pretty good about preventing fires.

    • by jet_silver (27654)

      Eucalyptus trees were implicated in the spread of the Oakland Hills [wikipedia.org] firestorm. They are flammable weeds. There isn't anything except the rapid growth rate and the smell to recommend them for anything at all in the USA, though in Australia it is my understanding that various pests constrain their growth and they're useful wood (for furniture) there.

      If every single eucalyptus tree in California died it would bother me not a bit except for the brief time during which they were falling down.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Big thing up here in Canada 10-12 years ago and in the NE-US about 30 years ago, they started planting Japanese Lilacs, those things are invasive too. I'm still trying to get the city to remove the 4000 of the ones they planted around the city here back about 5 years ago. Frickin' idiots.

    • Yeah, but the problem is that the introduced pest is a yucky insect.

      If only a bunch of cute Koala Bears had been introduced to eat the California eucalyptus tress, all would be forgiven!
      • by BluBrick (1924)

        Yeah, but the problem is that the introduced pest is a yucky insect. If only a bunch of cute Koala Bears had been introduced to eat the California eucalyptus tress, all would be forgiven!

        Trust me, you wouldn't think that way if you heard them snorting and grunting and growling in the middle of the night!

      • If only a bunch of cute Koala Bears had been introduced to eat the California eucalyptus tress, all would be forgiven!

        This whole story reminds me of the Simpsons "Bart vs Australia" (I think they have an episode to cover every situation)

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTdOQjmbAHY [youtube.com]

  • by Kittenman (971447) on Monday July 02, 2012 @07:53PM (#40522665)
    If the eucalyptus trees go, then California's koala bear population will also be decimated. This is dreadful news.
  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by msauve (701917) on Monday July 02, 2012 @07:55PM (#40522679)
    does this mean cough drops will get more expensive?
  • Killer bees. Screw 'em.
  • While controlling non-native species by introducing their homeland pests is a common practice, care must be taken that the other species don't cause harm to the native ecology. This is an operation that may not worth the risks, it wouldn't be the first time when the "control" species became even more invasive than the original one.

  • Exodus (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nethead (1563) <joe@nethead.com> on Monday July 02, 2012 @08:00PM (#40522697) Homepage Journal

    ..what might happen if a food or crop were intentionally targeted.

    The Israelites go free?

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

    by mrex (25183) on Monday July 02, 2012 @08:05PM (#40522721)
  • by PaddyM (45763) on Monday July 02, 2012 @08:15PM (#40522767) Homepage

    It seems like every time I go to Australia to bring back a control insect, there's another insect that's not affected by the control that appears on the loose. Almost like there's a fly on the wall in my strategy meetings. Or a bug in my luggage.

    From the article, it doesn't sound like they looked at other possibilities; suppliers which typically travel from Australia to LA, and maybe declining quality standards there. Maybe these other pests were dying off because of competition from the first set of pests and once the controls are introduced, the old set of pests (continuously arriving through incompetent shippers) are able to reestablish.

    But I think it's an issue well worth talking about.

    • by evanism (600676)

      "From the article, it doesn't sound like they looked at other possibilities; suppliers which typically travel from Australia to LA, and maybe declining quality standards there.".. i recon.

      Imagine the horror of finding a spare koala or crocodile in your luggage. Pesky buggers are everywhere.

    • Controls for two more psyllids were due to be released when they arrived of their own accord.

      Layers on layers of intrigue...

  • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao AT hotmail DOT com> 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 Anonymous Coward

    We stop tourists returning from other countries from bringing in produce to prevent pests like non-native fruit flies from taking hold domestically. Yet is has happened. I think the most likely reason is the most obvious - tourists hide and don't declare so they can have their "harmless" contraband. But it does occur to me, that would be a frightening means of economic sabotage if even just a few "tourists" a year were to bring in a matchbox full of an invasive and destructive insect in their pocket and

  • 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.
  • A couple of weeks ago I was ear-raped by a moth. Goddamn thing flew across the room and straight into my ear. I had to go to the hospital to have the fucker removed. This wasn't a little moth either, it was at least three quarters of an inch. If it hadn't kept wiggling I probably wouldn't have realized it was in there. I was half in denial all the way over there. So I thought you know, you could make some sort of Al-Quieda ear-seeking missile with a microphone and a bit of C4, park that fucker in their curr
    • So I thought you know, you could make some sort of Al-Quieda ear-seeking missile with a microphone and a bit of C4, park that fucker in their current #2's ear, gather intel until it's battery's just about dead and then detonate it!

      Forget it. We've all seen "Fifth Element" several times already.

  • by Baseclass (785652) on Monday July 02, 2012 @09:31PM (#40523187)

    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.'

    Must every act of aggression be labeled as some form of terrorism? The term certainly has lost it's potency since 9/11.

  • sounds like something out of a B movie or on of the syfy channel movies.

  • So when the U.S. government introduces an invasive species to control another invasive species, it's called progress, but if it happens accidentally, it's called bioterrorism?? Invasive insects are introduced to the U.S. through shipping on a daily basis, thanks to NAFTA and other free-trade treaties gutting the import inspection requirements. But no one complains about that for some reason. Probably because too many people are making obscene amounts of money thanks to the relaxed regulations, and convenien

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kaldari (199727)

      It looks like at least one of the people they interviewed is more sensible:

      Ted Center, an entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Invasive Plant Research Laboratory in Fort Lauderdale, Florida agrees. Globalization has ratcheted up the chances of importing pests and diseases from everywhere. Furthermore, he says, there are now more direct flights between Los Angeles and Australia than ever before, and pests entering the cargo holds of passenger planes need only survive fourteen or fifteen

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No. When it's by accident, it's called "accidental". When intentional, it's one of two things: agricultural sabotage (or some such), or bioterrorism. It's bioterrorism if the intent is to scare people (terrorize), with some political aim. It's agricultural sabotage if the intent is to rob people, for some economic aim.

      The article said something like, "raises the specter of bioterrorism." That's muckracking speak for, "here's why this interests you." It does not, properly read, mean that what's happening is

  • by Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:01PM (#40523367)

    .....that someone had fashioned some sort of bee gun?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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.

  • Am I the only one remembering the killer butterflies in "Neuromancer"?

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Are far better the ones from PKDick's "The Lethal Factor" (and the story is a better warning too about consequences on trying to control the future)
  • 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 geekprime (969454) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:14PM (#40523689)

    Of a shotgun that fires spiders, less lethal shells use wolf spiders and the lethal shells use black widows.

    *shudder!*

  • they had instead introduced marauding bands of genetically engineered koalas to devastate the eucalyptus trees?
  • This is nothing (Score:2, Informative)

    by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993)

    Every aspect of life is now theoretically weaponizable. The fact is that the number of people it takes to do very big damage to large numbers of people is trending down, has been trending down for centuries and will continue to trend down ever more rapidly.

    Basically your freedom and privacy are inversely proportional to the number of people it takes to hurt large number of people in very bad ways. At one end of that scale is the lone nut with a doomsday weapon. In that world, your freedom and privacy go

  • by beachdog (690633) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @01:00AM (#40524211) Journal

    This event needs better language.

    Bioterrorism does not fit because the introduction of eucalyptus pests is not the generation of fear in human beings for the purpose of starting a war or causing political instability.

    Eucalyptus has become an established plant in California. The word "established" catches the idea that grown eucalyptus trees in some settings provide shade and screening benefits. They have attained the status of having a social value.

    The word "antiestablishmentism" catches the idea that the introduced pests are launching another kind of destruction.

    About 140 feet away from my house grow several 240 foot tall Eucalyptus trees. They are shallow rooted plants on a steam bank. Whenever we have a storm, I always worry about which way the wind is blowing. The trees also block my satellite dish, block direct sun and plug up my roof gutters.

    Yeah, biological antiestablishmentism at work. Don't infect these please. Can't afford the consequences.

       

  • Why the fuck is this story tagged "Republicans?" A presumption that Republicans must have a hand in anything environmentally destructive?

  • Just asking, is all crime called terrorism now?
  • by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @11:53AM (#40528967)
    Does it matter? Go back to 1960, get some DDT, and you won't have this problem anymore. Sure, a few people might get cancer, but damn did it ever kill those bugs.

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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