We’ve posted a handful of stories about insects being outfitted with surveillance equipment, converted into cyborgs and even remade as robots, but what about using insects as instruments of biological warfare? As it turns out, this may be the most likely and frightening scenario. Ira Flatow, a close personal friend of Zooillogix (we’re assuming), went over this scenario on this recent episode of his NPR show, Talk of the Nation’s Science Friday.

Death to American pets!

The episode quotes Jeffrey Lockwood, an entomologist at the University of Wyoming, explaining that the danger of such an attack “has not been given its…

“…proportional level of attention. I don’t know that we want to overreact, but I think we’ve dangerously under-reacted.”

In case you’re thinking this is more science fiction than credible threat. It might help to know that humans have been using insects for warfare for thousands of years. Greek and Roman ships used to catapult beehives onto each others decks during sea battles, and the Japanese manufactured up to 50 million plague-carrying fleas a month at plague factories during World War II.

Luckily for us, most mosquitoes are Sufi.

The episode of Science Friday talks about how easy it would be to collect the eggs of mosquitoes carrying a disease such as Africa’s Rift Valley Fever (RFV), and then depositing the eggs into an American water source. Apparently many thousands of eggs could be stored in a matchbox, so it wouldn’t be that difficult.

Unfortunately, even if the terrorists had not yet thought of this as a possible weapon of mass destruction, they have now thanks to the combined efforts of Mr. Flatow and us. Whoops.


  1. #1 Coturnix
    October 30, 2007

    Have you read Pest Control? One of the most hillarious books I have read in recent years. Assassin bugs! And assassin humans. Who wins in the end?

  2. #2 TrekJunkie
    October 30, 2007

    The US military had an extensive entomological and tropical disease program in the first half of the 20th century. They investigate bio-weapons like malaria carrying mosquitoes, typhoid fiver carrying fleas, etc.

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