The Fire Ant Wars

Joshua Blu Buhs

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2004 | ISBN: 9780226079813
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226079844 | DOI:
The Fire Ant Wars

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Sometime in the first half of the twentieth century, a coterie of fire ants came ashore from South American ships docked in Mobile, Alabama. Fanning out across the region, the fire ants invaded the South, damaging crops, harassing game animals, and hindering harvesting methods. Responding to a collective call from southerners to eliminate these invasive pests, the U.S. Department of Agriculture developed a campaign that not only failed to eradicate the fire ants but left a wake of dead wildlife, sickened cattle, and public protest. With political intrigue, environmental tragedy, and such figures as Rachel Carson and E. O. Wilson, this book presents a perceptive tale of changing social attitudes and scientific practices. Tracing the political and scientific eradication campaigns, this study uses the saga as a means to consider twentieth-century American concepts of nature and environmental stewardship. In telling the story, the book explores how human concepts of nature evolve and how these ideas affect the natural and social worlds.

Keywords: fire ants; South America; Alabama; pest; Rachel Carson; E. O. Wilson; social attitudes; eradication; nature; environment

Book.  226 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental History

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Table of Contents

Introduction in The Fire Ant Wars


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