Is it possible that a tiny Colorado insect was used as a weapon during the Cold War?
Everything is beautiful in love and war
It’s hard to imagine that a small insect, smaller than a quarter, could pose a threat when compared to bombs, tanks, and heavy artillery. It is said that everything is fair in love and war – and so everything goes and everything is possible.
If you want to use insects in war, the Colorado beetle seems to be the insect of choice. The little beetle can have devastating consequences for potato crops – and the consequences of a beetle infestation can be dire.
The war on Colorado beetles
During the Cold War there was a campaign by Warsaw Pact countries to get rid of the Colorado beetles. They also accused the United States of engaging in entomological warfare, saying they introduced the insect into East Germany, Poland, and communist Czechoslovakia
According to the BBC, a German farmer noticed a couple of American planes flying over his fields in 1950. The next day he is said to have discovered that his fields were covered with Colorado beetles. There have been numerous other reports of planes flying overhead followed by an onslaught of beetles.
Discovered in the Rocky Mountains
You have most likely seen the Colorado potato beetle. The beetle is about 3/8 inch long with a yellow or orange body with brown stripes. It was first observed in 1811 and officially described by an entomologist named Thomas Nuttall in 1824. They were found in the Rocky Mountains feeding on buffalo. It turned out that these beetles love potatoes.
In 1859, it was discovered that the beetles destroyed the potato crops from Nebraska and migrated eastwards. Within 15 years they had reached the Atlantic coast and it was well known – the Colorado Potato Beetles were a force to be reckoned with.
Was a Colorado insect used as a secret weapon during the Cold War?
The Colorado potato beetle was first discovered in Colorado in the 19th century. It soon turned out that these brightly colored beetles loved potato plants – and that was bad news for potatoes. Within a few years they reached the Atlantic coast, which led to American potato imports being banned by several countries. Did the United States have a secret weapon to use against its enemies?