History of Entomology in World War II

History of Entomology in World War II

History of Entomology in World War II

History of Entomology in World War II

Excerpt

History reiterates how insects and the diseases they carry have changed the course of wars. Typhus, malaria, dengue, plague, the dysenteries, and numerous other diseases transmitted by insects have played an important part in determining the destiny of nations. The role of insects in limiting production of foods, feed, and fiber is important in peacetime but often becomes an acute problem during periods of war.

World War II differed from previous wars. Farseeing military surgeons, aware of the part insects play in the outcome of wars, made possible the planning of research programs in entomology. Agricultural leaders realized that agricultural production and its protection were essential to the winning of the war and that insect control was vital to any program of increased production. The successful conclusion of these programs assured ample food supplies and enabled the Allied forces to press forward to victory without the hitherto constant attrition of manpower caused by insect-borne diseases.

This was the first war in which entomologists had a favorable opportunity to demonstrate their ability to prevent annoyance and disease caused by insects. Their development of insecticides to control insects attacking man, animals, and agricultural crops was rated by leading scientists as second in importance only to the discovery of atomic fission. Other discoveries were less spectacular but were nonetheless important.

These entomological developments, originally for war purposes, have benefited the world. Hundreds of thousands of people have been saved from illness -- or death -- because of the research in entomology and the accomplishments of entomologists during World War II. Many crops show marked increases in yields which coincide with the extensive use of new pesticides developed during and immediately after the war.

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