At this time last year, news surfaced concerning the Pentagon’s research into malaria-eradication methods. While this sounds like a humane ambition, critics suspect that this story is merely a cover for the government’s true intention of developing weaponized mosquitoes. Hopefully, the government is engineering mosquitoes to carry infectious disease for the purpose of disease-eradication, and not for military applications, but past events shed doubt on the government’s supposed humane intentions. During the 1950s, the American Government developed two different programs for developing weaponized insects. These programs were titled Operation Big Itch and Operation Drop Kick, and they saw mosquitoes and disease carrying fleas dropped over populated areas from high-flying aircraft. The purpose of these programs was to determine the feasibility of using diseased insects as biological weapons. Not surprisingly, a few American citizens died in direct response to acquiring disease from the insects that had been released into the environment by government officials.
Back in 1954, the American government commenced Operation Big Itch by releasing millions of tropical rat fleas (Xenopsylla cheopis) over Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. The purpose of this test was to determine how well the fleas dispersed over wide areas of land and how effectively they attached to hosts. Happily, no American citizens are known to have died as a result of sustaining infected flea bites. The program proved a success after the fleas survived the fall and attached to hosts.
Two years after Operation Big Itch, the American Government commenced Operation Drop Kick by releasing 600,000 uninfected mosquitoes from a plane at Avon Park Bombing Range, Florida. The mosquitoes rapidly dispersed into an area of several square miles, biting many people. The predominantly black population of Avon Park suffered the unfortunate consequences of this program. Several residents became ill, and eight died as a result of the test despite the mosquitoes being uninfected at the time of their release. One resident of Avon Park couldn’t recall the release of the mosquitoes, but she could recall the time that she and her friends had witnessed a military plane releasing screw-flies over her town for research purposes.
Do you worry about contracting a disease as a result of entomological warfare?