Entomological Warfare: Is It Possible?


We all know how frightening wars can be. There’s a standard picture we all paint of it: soldiers dressed in uniforms wielding their mechanized weapons against the enemy, ready to defend their country. But, that isn’t always the case. There have been many instances in history wherein wars were fought with biological weapons; viruses, bacteria, and even fungi have played a large role in the destruction of others. But how, exactly, did these creatures – easily solvable by simple pest control measures – come to cause so much harm?

What is Entomological Warfare?

Entomological warfare, or EW for short, is a type of biological warfare that utilizes insects against the enemy. It is a concept that has existed since the ancient times and it has been studied and used by various countries, with the USA, Japan, and Germany as some of the most prominent EW users.

There are two varieties of EW: the first is done by infecting insects with a deadly virus or bacteria and then sending them over the target areas like the enemy’s main headquarters or residential areas. There, the insects then infect the people by biting and transferring the bacteria into their system. The second is done with the usage of insects to attack crops. They may not be infected with any disease, but they still definitely pose a threat to the agriculture and livelihood of their victims as they consume their food resources.


The earliest known use of entomological warfare was from the Ancient Romans. The legions were infamous for throwing beehives in enemy towns and fortresses via catapult. It was not a deadly weapon but the angered bees would sting at people and animals, distracting them, providing the Romans enough time to break the barriers and charge in. This tactic was eventually copied by the Dacia natives during their war with Rome and by King Richard during the Third Crusade. Some historians also think that the Black Death, one of the worst pandemics in human history, was a form of entomological warfare that started in Asia Minor before spreading to Europe.

Which kinds of insects were used for Entomological Warfare?

The following insects were used for EW:

  • Harlequin Bugs – During the American civil war, the harlequin bug suddenly appeared in the southern states and devoured crops like cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, and potatoes in the region. The secession states believed that the confederate states sent spies to plant the insects to further cripple their economy. However, there were no written records about the confederate states sending the harlequin bugs in the south, hinting that the insects probably migrated on their own from Mexico.
  • Plague Fleas – Plague fleas are known carriers of diseases like typhus and the deadly Bubonic plague. They have been used by the Mongols during their siege in Kaffa. Six centuries later, the Japanese used these fleas during their attack in China. The Japanese used low-flying airplanes then dropped bombs containing flies and fleas infected with cholera. An epidemic resulted and 500,000 Chinese died.

mosquito on skin

  • Mosquitoes – There were records that showed Nazi scientists exploring the idea of using mosquitoes as war weapons but it was not known if they pushed through with the concept. However, the USA established a secret facility in the 1950s where they infected mosquitoes with the yellow fever virus. These operations were dubbed Drop Kick and Big Itch.

Lucky for us living in the modern times, entomological warfare is a thing of the past. We now also have vastly improved pest control measures, ready to take on any blight that may come in the future.

Bugs of War: Things You Need to Know About Entomological Warfare

bio war wallpaper

Ever heard about entomological warfare? If not, then let us enlighten you!

Entomological warfare is a type of warfare wherein belligerents utilize insects against each other. Now this concept has been around for quite some time; a lot of examples have been noted to date back centuries before our time! Today, this practice still continues, and it underwent extensive research and development so that it could be used more effectively and efficiently. Talk about pest control!

Want to know more about entomological warfare? Read on below!



Simply put, entomological warfare (EW for short) is a special branch of biological warfare that utilizes insects to in direct attacks, or at least as vectors to deliver a more dangerous biological agent like cholera or plague. Insects have three main uses in warfare: to act as vectors and infect target areas and people with a genetically-designed and dangerous pathogen and human diseases, to act as pests and destroy crops and other agricultural areas, and to act as weapons that can directly inflict pain on enemies.


Early History

As mentioned earlier, entomological warfare is not a wholly new concept. Historians and writers have studied and noted instances throughout history wherein EW was employed. For example, the Black Death that spread throughout Europe was believed to have resulted from an attack on the Crimean city, Kaffa. Historians noted that during the siege, the enemy loosed fleas infected with plague (which was already rampaging in Asia back then) upon the city, infecting its people and the rats that would later travel all over Europe and bring with it the disease.

siege of kaffa

But that was not the first incident of entomological warfare. According to Jeffrey Lockwood, author of Six-Legged Soldiers, the first incident of EW was when people used bees as projectile weapons. They would throw captured bees or their nests into enemy caves in an attempt to force them to come out. Lockwood even went as far as to theorize that the Ark of the Covenant of the Israelites contained deadly fleas, hence why it can be fatal to touch or open it!


During World War II

ew in world war 2

World War II saw entomological warfare renewed and modernized. Countries that researched this concept included Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. However, Japan is the country that utilized EW the most during the war, employing it mostly on their campaign against China. Led by Lt. General Shirō Ishii, Japan’s infamous biological warfare Unit 731 let loose swarms of cholera-carrying fleas and flies all over China, infecting hundreds of thousands of people with the disease. In 2002, an international symposium of historians declared that these EW efforts resulted in over 440,000 deaths in China alone.


During the Cold War

The Soviet Union and the United States further developed entomological warfare during the Cold War. The Soviets not only developed and tested EW programs for anti-crops and anti-animal biological warfare programs, but they also used avian tricks to transmit diseases via birds. Meanwhile, the US made plans for an entomological warfare facility, which is specially designed to produce 100 million yellow fever-infected mosquitoes per month. Thankfully, these two superpowers didn’t come to blows!


moth with airplane painting

Today, countries and organizations continue to research and develop entomological warfare. So if you feel like your neighbor is angry at you and they have a farm of insects at hand, then we suggest you keep your trusty pest control’s contact number at hand. That way, they be able to ward off any attack – should any come at all!