Insects: They may be the next terrorist weapon

A Times Online report expressed fears that the next big weapon could actually be insects unleashed by eco-terrorists which could spread disease and destroy crops with devastating speed. Insects are one of the cheapest and most destructive weapons available to terrorists today. They are also one of the most ignored weapons. They are easy to sneak across borders, reproduce quickly and can spread disease and destroy crops rapidly.

Jeffrey Lockwood, professor of entomology at Wyoming University and author of ‘Six-legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War’, said diseases such as Rift Valley Fever can be transported to another country as simply as in a suitcase. Rift Valley Fever is an east African disease which “can cause severe disease in both animals and humans, leading to high rates of disease and death” according to the World Health Organisation.

A small terrorist unit can develop an insect-based program as it is uncomplicated compared to a nuclear or chemical weapon and the raw material “is available in the backyard.” Insects as a terrorist weapon are most likely to be ignored. For 9/11 too the terrorists used only a little ingenuity, not sophisticated weapons, to cause enormous damage. Armed only with box-cutters, terrorists hijacked aircraft and brought down the WTC. Insects are also cheap, simple and effective.

The US Administration admits that entomological attack is still not on their radar.

This only goes to demonstrate how difficult it is to play defense against terrorism. Terrorists can pick their method. And it's likely that they'll choose something we aren't guarding against and just aren't prepared for. Resources are limited, and we can't defend adequately against everything.

History of effective insect use in war

•In World War II, the French and Germans pursued the mass production and dispersion of Colorado potato beetles to destroy enemy food supplies.
•The Japanese military sprayed disease-carrying fleas from low-flying airplanes and dropped bombs packed with flies and a slurry of cholera bacteria, killing half a million Chinese.
•During the Cold War, the US military planned a facility to produce 100 million yellow-fever-infected mosquitoes a month, produced an "Entomological Warfare Target Analysis" of vulnerable sites in the Soviet Union and among its allies, and tested the dispersal and biting capacity of (uninfected) mosquitoes by secretly dropping the insects over American cities.

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