Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

What Is 'Natural'?

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

What Is 'Natural'?

Article excerpt

THE SOURCE: "Confessions of an Entomological Hit Man" by Jeffrey A. Lockwood and Alexandre V. Latchininsky, in Conservation Magazine, July-Sept. 2008.

WHEN MASTER EXTERMINATORS Jeffrey A. Lockwood and Alexandre V. Latchininsky were summoned to the remote Hawaiian island of Nihoa in 2006 to wipe out the invading gray bird grasshopper, they expected a straight pest management job. Two years earlier the insect had nearly denuded Nihoa, which lacks both fresh water and topsoil. The grasshopper, an interloper from Venezuela, had devoured 90 percent of the tiny volcanic island's vegetation in a matter of months.

But Lockwood and Latchininsky landed smack in the middle of philosophical debates over the meaning of "native" and how aggressively to restore ecological "balance" when a newcomer arrives and decimates the local habitat. By the time the exterminators, who also teach at the University of Wyoming, arrived, Nihoa was again "impressively verdant." All the native herbivores appeared to be doing well despite enduring a period of scorched-earth conditions, and the Nihoa millerbird, a species once on the edge of extinction, was thriving on a new grasshopper diet.

Hawaiian conservationists still insisted on turning the clock back to before 1977, when, they believed, the grasshoppers had stowed away on a freighter, ridden favorable winds to Nihoa, and lain low for a quarter-century waiting for the perfect combination of drought and heat to create the right conditions for them to multiply wildly and ravage their adopted paradise. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.