Where did the colorado beetle in russia come from
Where did the Colorado beetle come from in Russia, there are several versions. One of them is the purposeful spread of the pest by American services of the CIA during the Cold War between the USSR and the United States. When the Colorado beetle appeared in Russia, experts do not give an exact answer, but indicate the approximate years of infection of our territory.
The birthplace of the Colorado beetle is warm, sunny Mexico. For the first time, the inhabitants of the countryside discovered a striped creature with a huge appetite in 1824. Initially, the insect was eaten by tomatoes, Bulgarian peppers, eggplant, petunia leaves, tobacco. With the active appearance of potatoes in the fields, the colorado moved to this culture. However, the story of the Colorado potato beetle does not end there, but only begins.
In 1959 the parasite inflicted colossal harm to potatoes in several states of Colorado in America. Hence the name appeared. With the spread of navigation, active trade in potatoes, the insect began to master other continents. During the First World War a mass appearance was discovered in France. In this country, American military bases were stationed, where soldiers were transported food, food supplies from the United States. Migration across Europe began with the French town of Bordeaux.
The appearance of a pest in the USSR
In what year the Colorado beetle was brought to the territory of Russia, there is no exact information. Presumably started to import during the Second World War – 1943-1949. Some experts call the moment of settlement the beginning of military operations, others – the end.
In 1949, a striped insect was found on the territory of Ukraine. The arid, hot summer of 1953 facilitated the resettlement throughout Ukraine, the Baltics, and Belarus. Who brought the Colorado beetle to Russia, the question is of interest to many, since the large-scale insect pests resemble diversions.
Many people want to believe in the version that the beetle appeared in the USSR thanks to the purposeful action of American CIA services. During the Cold War, various methods and methods were used to undermine the economic stability of the country. However, the experts did not find evidence of this hypothesis.
In 1975, trains with straw from the Ukrainian SSR were sent to the South Urals. According to one of the versions, the colorado got into the territory of our country. In the 80s, a beetle appeared in the Voronezh Region and adjacent to it. A problem has arisen that has been solved so far.
The appearance of a striped insect in the Russian space is associated with the development of economic relations between the states of Europe and the USSR. This period falls on 1940. Larvae of the colorado with potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, tobacco were brought in.
Initially, no one paid much attention to the strange creature on the root crops. Contributed to the spread of hostilities. At that time, few people paid attention to agricultural pests in Russia, and the colorado was finally adapted to the harsh climate. At the end of World War II, a real disaster began in the fields with potatoes.
Struggle against the Colorado parasite is actively conducted in modern Russia. Destroy in a physical way, chemistry, biological way. Breeders breed varieties that are resistant to these pests. The acting means, which wipes the Colorado beetle from the face of the earth, have not yet been invented. Regardless of origin, appearance, it is necessary to fight by any means, means. Otherwise, the crop will suffer significantly.
What’s Orange And Black And Bugging Ukraine?
As pro-Russian separatists continue to tighten their grip in eastern Ukraine, some angry Ukrainians have given them a nickname that sums up just how they feel about teeming swarms of unwanted pests: “koloradi.”
The term is short for Colorado potato beetles, the invasive, plant-eating insects that are the scourge of gardeners and farmers around the globe.
Koloradskiye zhuki, as the plump, six-legged bugs are known locally, are distinctive for their bright orange-and-black stripes.
In this, they bear a marked resemblance to the orange-and-black St. George ribbon, a symbol of Russian military valor that has become de rigueur lapel-wear for the separatists occupying administration buildings in cities like Donetsk and Slovyansk.
The ribbon, normally associated with Soviet World War II veterans, is enjoying a patriotic renaissance in the wake of Russia’s military annexation of Crimea and its continued standoff with Ukraine.
The Russian RIA Novosti news agency reported this week that close to 100 million St. George ribbons have been distributed “worldwide” ahead of the May 9 Victory Day holiday marking 69 years since the end of WWII.
Ukraine’s pro-Russia separatists, who wear unmarked military uniforms and deny any formal ties to the Russian government, have relied on the orange-and-black ribbons as a kind of makeshift marker of Kremlin loyalty.
When separatist troops first entered eastern Ukraine earlier this month, most did so with one or more St. George ribbons tied around their biceps or pinned to their jackets — a useful visual for the Kremlin, which has tried to portray the current unrest in Ukraine as a heroic, WWII-style battle against “fascist” influences in Kyiv and western Ukraine.
It’s not just the ribbons that have Ukrainian loyalists drawing parallels with Colorado beetles. For post-Soviet citizens, the unloved, destructive insects are also synonymous with imperialist plots and foreign invasions.
The bugs — which reportedly originated in the U.S. state of Nevada, not Colorado — first appeared on Soviet territory in the wake of World War II, when they were believed to have been unwittingly transported to Europe alongside American troops.
The Warsaw Pact countries, fearing a food shortage, decried the voracious outs >
Now, with a current crop of “koloradi” to worry about, many Ukrainians have created their own Soviet-style campaigns, producing online posters alerting viewers to the current “distribution” of Colorado beetles in Crimea, Kharkiv, and Donetsk, and depicting the bugs happily nibbling on a leafy plant and proudly defending themselves as potato “self-defense” forces.
A current insecticide ad running on Channel 5, the station owned by Ukrainian presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko, has even raised chuckles among some Ukrainians with its promise to kill Colorado beetles “on the spot” — although in this case, the enemy in question are the actual bugs, which remain an annual threat.
Other observers seem to be taking the “koloradi” nickname in their stride. Moscow-based analyst Grigory Trofimchuk chided Russian propagandists for using heavy-handed labels like “fascists.”
He urged them to try “light irony” instead, suggesting that Ukraine’s Right Sector nationalists, with their red-and-black insignia, bear more than a passing resemblance to another kind of a bug — klop-soldatki, or firebugs, which he noted mischievously, “tend toward cannibalism.”
Daisy Sindelar is the director of Current Time TV, the Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.
The great Cold War potato beetle battle
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In 1950 the East German government claimed the Americans were dropping potato beetles out of planes over GDR fields in an attempt to sabotage their crops. Was it true, or an example of Cold War propaganda?
On 23 May 1950, farmer Max Troeger noticed two American planes flying over his fields in the East German village of Schoenfels bei Zwickau.
The next morning – according to an East German government leaflet – he was shocked to discover that his fields were covered with Colorado potato beetles, an insect which can devastate potato crops.
First described in 1824, the beetle had presented a major threat to European crops when it had first arrived with potatoes imported from the US in the late 19th Century.
Was America deliberately dropping these beasties over the socialist East German state to sabotage its harvest and undermine its post-war reconstruction?
The East German press reported a number of other cases in which planes flying overhead had been followed by a plague of potato beetles. Politicians raged against the “six-legged ambassadors of the American invasion” and a government report described “a criminal attack by American imperialist warmongers on our people’s food supply”.
So the country began to mobilise against the enemy insects.
There was a huge propaganda campaign – leaflets, posters, stories in the press – depicting the potato beetles as tiny American soldiers in army boots or helmets. They were called Amikafer – Yankee beetles.
Children all over East Germany were sent out to collect the beetles after school.
Find out more
- Lucy Burns was reporting for Witness
- Witness airs weekdays on BBC World Service
- Tells history through the eyes of the people who lived it
“We were told that potato beetles were pests, and that they were eating our fields bare,” says Ingo Materna, who was 18 at the time.
“We would go down the rows of potatoes and everyone would try to pick up as many beetles as they could, maybe 20 or 25 in a day. And then we would put them in pots or little glass jars and they would be taken away and destroyed.
“The really dangerous ones were the larvae, because they eat the most,” says Materna.
“They were sort of fleshy and soft, and we had to pick them up with our fingers – we didn’t have tweezers or rubber gloves.
“The girls in particular didn’t like it… We didn’t want to touch them either, but what could we do?”
Colorado beetles had already been common in Germany before the war, says Erhard Geissler, an expert in biological warfare at the Max Delbruck Centre for Molecular Medicine, who has researched the history of the pests.
- The Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) is native to south-west North America and was first described by Thomas Say in 1824
- The beetle spread to Europe and Asia with potato imports in the late 19th and early 20th Century
- An adult beetle is around 10mm long and is orange or yellow with black or brown stripes
- The beetle’s main food is potato leaves – a single larva can eat 40 sq cm of leaf per day
- A single female beetle can lay up to 800 eggs in her lifetime
- Colorado potato beetles are very hard to get rid of as they are resistant to all major insecticide classes
- Colorado potato beetles are not established in the UK where they are a quarantine pest
And in 1950, there were indeed many more of them in the fields. But, there were plenty of other reasons why that might have been the case, says Geissler.
“There was not enough pesticide available because not enough was being produced, and what was produced was mainly sent straight to the Soviet Union.
“There was not enough technical advice on pesticides, and motivation among farm workers was also very low at that time – a lot of male workers who had been soldiers, were still in the Soviet Union.”
Many East Germans did believe that the Americans were to blame, however.
“I found that a majority of older people, particularly in rural areas, remembered it had been the US imperialist who spread the beetles from the aeroplanes,” says Geissler.
Eighteen-year-old Ingo Materna, had a different view. “We didn’t take it seriously at all,” he says.
Even though he and his friends were dutifully picking the beetles up, they weren’t convinced by the story of the capitalist plot.
“The idea that the Americans were dropping them – of course, that was nonsense.”
This was the period of the Cold War, a time of heightened mistrust between East and West.
For Materna – who shared his memories as part of an oral history project, Memory of the Nation – the government was seizing every opportunity to accuse the Americans of bad behaviour.
- The French considered importing beetles from the US and dropping them over Germany after World War I – but the plan was abandoned due to fears it might also damage French agriculture
- In World War II, both Britain and Germany were concerned that the enemy might use potato beetles against them. This would have been particularly damaging in Britain, where the potato beetle was still largely unknown
- German experts dismissed as “improbable” the idea that the Allies might have been planning to use beetles as a biological weapon – the British would have not have been able to breed sufficient supplies and the French would have struggled to smuggle them over the border undetected
“Some of the stories were probably true and some of them definitely weren’t,” he says. “This beetle story was one of the ones that wasn’t.”
Whatever the origin of the beetles, they did pose a serious threat to East German crops.
“Potatoes were the main thing we had to eat in East Germany at the time,” remembers Geissler, who grew up in Leipzig.
“My father and mother and I would all share a single potato for breakfast. We were shocked to hear that our food supply was under threat.”
Materna, too, recalls the importance of eliminating the beetles.
“We had just survived World War II. I had lived under all four occupying powers – we had been through a lot,” he says.
“So if there were potato beetles, we needed to get rid of them, so we had enough potatoes. It was as simple as that.”
The idea of planes dropping potato beetles over enemy fields was not entirely far-fetched.
For one thing, US planes were often flying low over some parts of East Germany at the time – delivering supplies to West Berlin.
And, says Erhard Geissler, several governments had already considered the possibilities of the potato beetle as a weapon – although he has found no evidence that they were ever actually used in practice.
The British considered dropping them over Germany during World War I, for example. And although Hitler had prohibited active research into biological weapons, a small group of German scientists performed a number of tests dropping specially-bred potato beetles out of planes in 1943. The idea was soon abandoned.
In East Germany in 1950, the Ministry of Agriculture commissioned a report to back up its allegations that the Americans were dropping beetles out of aircraft, including interviews with eyewitnesses and experts.
But the “experts” quoted in the research had never published previously on potato beetles or any other invasive species, Geissler says, and the committee was mainly made up of politicians, not scientists.
And so, he concludes, the story was aimed at covering the government’s own inability to fight the beetles, and provided a handy extra accusation to hurl at the Americans.
He believes that the East German government did not believe the story themselves. “They were not stupid. They had political convictions and they were concerned by the increasing danger of the developing Cold War, but I do not think they were stupid enough to believe their own propaganda.
“There is no factual basis for the story about the Yankee beetles at all.”
Lucy Burns was reporting for Witness – which airs weekdays on BBC World Service radio. You can hear her report on the potato beetles here.
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How the USSR created a myth about Americans intentionally infecting Europe with the Colorado potato beetle
The historian Tamara Aidelman in her book How Propaganda Works, which is published by Individually, describes how the mechanism of spreading deliberately false information works, and also examines in detail several well-known examples. One of them is the myth of the Colorado potato beetle as a biological weapon created by the Americans.
Pioneers from the GDR collect the Colorado potato beetles, 1952 year. Photo: Biscan / Bundesarchiv / Wikimedia Commons
With the permission of the publisherMedusa»We publish an excerpt from a book devoted to the Colorado potato beetle – and how the Americans allegedly spread it in Eastern Europe.
. But the worst pests are, of course, external enemies. And if the pre-revolutionary Russia was mostly an “Englishman shit,” then in the late Soviet propaganda, the championship was, of course, America.
The massive influx of the Colorado potato beetle
The Americans in the view of Soviet propaganda and the Soviet people crammed horrible things. One of the most sophisticated of their inventions was the distribution of the Colorado potato beetle. This striped yellow-black pest was discovered at the beginning of the 19th century in the Rocky Mountains of America. But then no one could have imagined what kind of future he was facing.
The Colorado potato beetle is a very unpleasant pest who, after descending from the Rocky Mountains, suddenly discovered potato fields and since then has been feeding mainly on this product. Today it is distributed in the United States in almost all states except Alaska, California, Hawaii and Nevada, and in Asia and Europe it is found on an area of more than 16 million square kilometers. Back in 1871, one American entomologist warned Europeans about the danger of the Colorado potato beetle, and in 1875, France, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland banned the import of American potatoes, fearing a pest.
He may have fallen into Europe before, but in the 19th century they ate little potatoes – it was considered food of the “poor and convicts”. But when the potatoes began to turn into one of the most favorite dishes around the world, the Colorado potato beetle began to meet more and more. It is difficult to fight him – in Great Britain alone he was “destroyed” 163 times, and he came back again.
The appearance of beetles on European territory was also facilitated by wars — as soon as American troops appeared, they found beetles near their military bases. It can be assumed that the soldiers were fed potatoes brought from America, and the beetles from the warehouses were chosen “at will”. After the Second World War, they easily mastered the ravaged Europe, in particular in those places where there were already Soviet troops. And then it began.
“Report of the Minister of Agriculture of the USSR I. A. Benediktov to the Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) M. A. Suslov on the danger of the spread of the Colorado potato beetle
The Colorado potato beetle is one of the most dangerous pests of potato culture. In addition, it damages tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. By the beginning of World War II, the Colorado potato beetle was ubiquitous in the USA, Canada, France, Belgium, the western part of Germany, some parts of Italy, Holland and Switzerland, and during the war years it was introduced to the territory of Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and Yugoslavia. The Colorado potato beetle was especially widely distributed during the war years in Germany.
In 1946 – 1949 The Soviet military administration carried out extensive measures to combat the Colorado potato beetle in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany, achieved a situation in which the pockets of the Colorado potato beetle were minimized and almost completely eliminated in the lands adjacent to Poland.
At the same time, the American, British and French occupying authorities almost did not carry out any extermination measures against the Colorado potato beetle, thus creating extremely favorable conditions for the mass reproduction and spread of the beetle and the constant contamination of the areas of the German Democratic Republic adjacent to the western zones of occupation of Germany. From these border areas, the beetle constantly flies into many other areas of the German Democratic Republic, nullifying the results of the extremely intense and costly work on the extermination of the beetle, carried out by the population in the republic. ”
* * *
I wonder why the Soviet military administration fought the beetle, and the American, British and French occupation authorities overlooked this danger, especially since the Americans really should have known about the Colorado beetle.
The answer is given further:
“Creating favorable conditions for the mass reproduction of the Colorado potato beetle, the Americans simultaneously carry out atrocious acts of dropping the beetle in mass quantities from planes over several areas of the German Democratic Republic and in the Baltic Sea region in order to infect the beetle and the Polish Republic. The Ministry of Agriculture of the USSR daily receives information about the massive influx of the Colorado potato beetle from the Baltic Sea to the shores of the Polish Republic. This is undoubtedly the result of Anglo-American sabotage work. ”
So, it turns out, the Americans dump beetles from airplanes and specifically infect those states in which Soviet power was established. I would like, of course, to know how many American planes could afford in the 1950 year to fly over the territory of the GDR and Poland. And besides, obviously, very low, like the fly “maize” pollinating the field.
Even more interesting, how far can the Colorado beetles swim, if we are already talking about a “mass influx”? Are they amphibians? And finally, if the beetles get into the territory of the GDR, who will prevent them from then moving to the Federal Republic of Germany, to the territory controlled by the Americans, and from there to all the NATO countries?
Probably, these thoughts came to someone already then, but it was unlikely that they were decided to speak out loud. And the stories about the terrible Colorado beetles, which the Americans throw up to us, constantly multiplied. In the same note, the Minister of Agriculture proposed remarkable measures to combat the beetle. There was not a word about the possible methods of its destruction, about those chemicals that need to be applied.
No, the fight against the Colorado potato beetle turned out to be exclusively ideological:
- “To publish in the newspapers Pravda, Izvestia and Socialist Agriculture the articles covering the dangers arising from the Colorado potato beetle, and especially the facts of the villainous spread of the beetle by Americans;
- Publish articles of this kind through the Press Bureau for all republican, regional and district newspapers;
- Publish in large quantities a brochure and a colorful poster about the Colorado potato beetle, highlighting the facts about the spread of the pest in the light of materials published in the Soviet central press. ”
It is enough to look at these measures, which the Minister of Agriculture suggests, I remind you, to understand that it is not an agricultural, but an ideological campaign.
Colorado beetles, of course, were. They certainly did a lot of damage to the fields. They certainly came to Europe from America. And these facts turned out to be enough to develop absolutely fantastic propaganda, showing beetles as a real detachment of American saboteurs. In German, Polish, Soviet caricatures, beetles march with guns, get assignments in the White House personally from US President Truman and from Western European politicians, and even find themselves on the American flag instead of stars.
They were credited with the same destructive force as the atomic bomb:
“American candidates for atomic war criminals today showed a sample of what they are preparing for humanity. Only murderers can resort to such horror as the deliberate destruction of peaceful human labor, the destruction of the crop by the Colorado potato beetle. ”
Endless articles and cartoons tightly linked fantastic harm from the Colorado potato beetle to the United States. They have already forgotten about the beetle, but a bunch of “USA – danger” has fixed well.
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