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Environment and History

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Environment and History

An Ocean of Locusts - The Perception and Control of Insect Pests in Prussian Brandenburg (1700-1850)

Jana Sprenger

Environment and History 21 (2015): 513-536. doi: 10.3197/096734015X14414683716208

Since the beginning of agrarian societies, coping with animal pests has been an important part of the interaction between humans and their environment. Analysing historical pest-related discourses reveals contemporary knowledge of special aspects of the natural world, the way of dealing with natural hazards, as well as societal changes in the valuation of nature. The eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were characterised by substantial transformations in the confronting of animal pests. Important foundations leading to the later development of modern pest control were set in this time. The study examines the perception and distribution as well as the damage caused by and control of different insect pests in agriculture and forestry. It concentrates on Prussian Brandenburg in the northeast of today's Germany between 1700 and 1850. Handwritten administrative documents as well as printed silvicultural, agricultural and entomological literature serve as underlying sources. The analysis focuses on pine caterpillars in forestry and migratory locusts in agriculture. It also gives an overview of the perception of animal pests in general.

KEYWORDS: Animal pests, pest control, locusts, caterpillars, forestry, agriculture

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