GYPSY MOTH: Its History In America by Robert M. McClung

GYPSY MOTH: Its History In America

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Readers of Roth's Walking Catfish and Other Aliens (KR, 1973) will remember that American gypsy moths are descended from a handful of imported specimens that escaped near Medford, Mass. in 1869. McClung turns this well known example of unwanted animal immigration into a case study of pest control methods. Chemical warfare -- from arsenic and lead in the 19th century to DDT and carbaryl -- has been variously effective but opposed by many as unsafe; parasites, bacterial infections and scent traps all work but are aimed at control rather than outright elimination of the moths. Two new methods, sterilization and synthesizing the metamorphosis impeding juvenile hormones, are also presented in some depth; both may work eventually but McClung notes that a much touted experiment with raising a colony of sterilized gypsy moths in Skylab's zero gravity is not considered promising by most experts. As an introduction to the gypsy moth per se this study suffers from insufficiently detailed illustrations, and even after studying the appendix on ""insect pests often mistaken for gypsy moths,"" a reader probably still could not identify a gypsy moth if he saw one. Nevertheless this is a useful overview of progress in insect control -- one which raises the important question of whether the side effects of extermination may not sometimes become more dangerous than the pests themselves.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 1974
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: Morrow