Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 1999


Published in Great Plains Research 9: (Fall 1999). Copyright © 1999 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Mark Winston draws much on case histories of pest control issues in the Pacific Northwest to argue for fundamental changes in the way we contend with pests. Quoting extensively from Rachel Carson's monumental Silent Spring, he outlines how balanced her view of pest control and environmental protection has proved to be and adopts that view in developing the thesis of Nature Wars.

The first case history involves efforts in Vancouver to control gypsy moths with Bacillus thuringiensis, a widely used bacterium that selectively controls only butterfly and moth larvae. Gypsy moths defoliate all green things in their path, denuding a landscape of its trees in short order. Winston documents the spread of this menace and the chemical and cultural methods used to try to control it during the past century. In Vancouver, despite opposition to spraying by some extreme environmental groups, the control campaign has so far succeeded in holding the moth at bay. Winston uses this incident to demonstrate the necessity of public involvement in pest control programs if they are to succeed. He also points out that complete control is bound to fail, whereas approaches that contain a pest at an economic threshold level often succeed.