Human beings are no strangers to warfare. The course of human history is rife with violence. Whether or not war is a natural part of human nature can be debated, but the historical use of insects in warfare cannot be denied. Academics have been studying the role of insects in human-waged wars for quite some time, and the practice has even earned its own term. This term is “entomological warfare”, and this particular method of combat has both failed and succeeded at numerous points throughout mankind’s history. Experts have classified three types of entomological warfare. The first involves the direct use of insects as weapons, the second involves the use of insects to infest and destroy crops, and the third involves the use of insects as agents of infectious disease. Most recently, insects have been used as inspiration for innovative forms of military technology. As you can probably guess, the direct use of insects as weapons of war is the most primitive form of entomological warfare.
Insects have been used as weapons in warfare since at least the Roman era. During this time, at around two hundred BCE, King Barsamia defended the ancient middle eastern city of Hatra from Roman military advances by using venomous scorpions as weapons. Combatants gathered scorpions, assassin bugs and other venomous insects from the desert region before placing them in terracotta pots to be launched at the Roman Army. The advancing Roman Army soon retreated in response to the terror that the insects incited. Several texts describe the Roman soldiers as being in intense pain as a result of stings and bites from the insects.
During the twentieth century, many countries suspected their opponents of using insects to destroy their crops. For example, in 1944, Great Britain accused Germany of dropping Colorado potato beetles into their crops in order to decimate a large portion of Britain’s food supply. North Korea accused the US of crop infestation following the American military campaign in Vietnam. The Japanese used humans as subjects during experiments that tested the effectiveness of vector-borne diseases as weapons of mass destruction. Technically, the use of insects as instruments of warfare is against international law, as the Geneva Conventions banned the use of all forms of biological weapons in war. However, many countries are referring to flying insects as inspiration for developing advanced military drones.
Do you believe that some nations are secretly developing weapons of mass destruction in the form of insect-borne pathogens?