Larson (2005) expresses his belief that the much used militaristic language in invasion biology has no place in scholarly articles. He states that even though the metaphors may draw attention to the articles, they are overall ineffective. Larson argues that the use of this language draws the reader towards a man vs. enemy viewpoint which in turn causes an inaccurate perspective of the problems regarding invasive species. Larson believes that this “us vs. them” way of thinking is an oversimplification of the problem and that it is leading a complete public misunderstanding. One example of this kind of language is found in a blog posted by Brianca King (10-09-2010). In her paper, Brianca discusses termites and their detrimental effects on building and infrastructure. She states that “When the troops…dumped their crates…the termites began their attack.” (Brianca 2010) In actuality, the termites did not attack anything, only started eating their natural food, but this militaristic language draws the reader into the article and helps the reader understand that there is a threat.
I agree with Larson’s argument in that militaristic language can lead the reader to have an inaccurate and ineffective viewpoint regarding the fight to control aquatic invasion however I believe that it still must be used. In today’s society, there are very few ways to get public attention and one is to pose a serious threat and treat the problem as if humans were at war with these aquatic invaders. Even if the public, in general, has a faulty perspective on the issue because of the use of militaristic language, I believe that the transaction costs would be much too high and nothing in the field of invasion biology could ever be accomplished if the language were not used. Larson’s arguments may be true, but militaristic language must be kept in invasion biology articles.
Larson, B. M. H. 2005. The war of the roses: demilitarizing invasion biology. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3: 495-500
King, Brianca. Termite Attack!. Aquatic Invasive Species Word Press. October 09, 2010. SW2. http://sites.duke.edu/writing20_12_f2010/2010/09/10/termite-attack/
In Brendon Larson’s paper “The war of the roses: demilitarizing invasion biology, Larson expresses his opinion on the diction used in recent journal articles on invasive species. Larson feels that the diction used is entirely too militaristic. The journal articles contains grasping metaphors that are intended to attract attention and cause people to want to take action immediately. Although this technique is effective, Larson feels that the use of militaristic metaphors is troublesome. This type of language causes the readers to misinterpret the invasive species problem and to oversimplify the problem. From this militaristic perspective, the language confuses the reader into thinking the problem that exists is a war-like situation involving the human population verses the invasive species with no other factors involved.
In my own blog post, I used the militaristic style and oversimplified an invasive species problem. While explaining the ongoing termite problem in New Orleans, I said, ”If more action is not conducted, the termites will eventually eat away at the building until it collapses causing the city of New Orleans to flood.” I created a man verses environment problem with this statement by saying that only human control could stop this problem from occurring, which could cause radical ideas and plans to be made, which could in effect cause even more problems. Based on the opinion of my own error, I personally agree with Larson’s opinion that militaristic language does not convey the entire picture of the invasive species problem. This linguistic style does oversimplify the problem and presents opportunities for immediate and impractical ideas to be formed and conducted. Larson goes on to say that instead of a militaristic analogy, a health analogy would be much more effective. I agree with Larson’s opinion that the health metaphor is more effective and allows the reader to gain a better understanding of the problem. With a health analogy, not only is the danger of the invasive species presented, but it is also expressed in a way that the human population is not the only cause of the problem and that the environment also has a large role in the situation.
Imagine this: it is a typical Thursday night and you find yourself trying to choose a movie to occupy your time. You are in the mood for a film that could both thrill and provoke thought. Sound familiar? Before you settle on the most recent blockbuster, consider a less conventional cinematic experience, one that offers excitement, stimulation, and raw truth. Although a documentary on invasive species was hardly what you had in mind, “Strange Days on Planet Earth” gives an experience well worth the time.
People generally do not become involved in a problem unless they are directly effected by its outcome. The film examines several areas of the world where the havoc invasive species have wreaked on the environment has directly effected humans. In New Orleans, an invasion of a termite has led to the destruction of the historic homes in the French Quarter. In Guam, children are being attacked by the foreign Brown Tree Snakes. Out of all the examples given, most alarming was the situation in Lake Victoria, Uganda, with water hyacinth. A beautiful and harmless looking plant has directly lead to countless crocodile bites and diseases inflicted on locals. The species had completely canopied the lake, clogging fishing lines and creating stagnant pools. Without the flow of water, diseases such as malaria, have begun to spread more quickly. They have also created waters ideal for crocodiles. As the crocodile population sky rockets, the fish population stays the same. With the lack of food, the crocodiles seek human flesh to satisfy their palate. By bringing light to how invasive species directly effect humanity, the movie uncovers a moral underside the issue. Many scientists may argue that the death of native species is in itself a moral issue, and should have been more heavily focused on in the film. In reality, the percent of the population who are emotionally moved into action over a lost species of plant is very minimal. By focusing on how invasive species pose a threat to humans and not just native species, the film-makers inspire viewers into action; a feat that would otherwise be very difficult to accomplish.
Some may criticize the film for over-dramatizing the problem of invasive species in order to draw viewers. In many ways, this can be distracting to viewers seeking the model unimaginative documentary. However, for the rest of America, the exhilarating methods National Graphic employs are exactly what scientists in the field of preventing the spread of invasive species need. The hype caused by the film will cause a domino effect of awareness. People may find themselves checking their shoes for New Zealand mud snails or avoiding planting foreign species to avoid their spread. While the documentary offers enjoyment over merit, perhaps hype is exactly what is necessary for this issue. So next time you find yourself in the position of not knowing which movie to watch, “Strange Days on Planet Earth” should be the obvious choice: for entertainment that will also inspire action.
Formosan subterranean termites have found a new home in New Orleans, Louisiana and the southern United States. It has been speculated that these termites reached America just after the end of World War II. When American troops were packing up to return home from Japan and China they used the local wood to make crates for transportation. No one had any clue that there were extra travelers on board the ships roaming within the crates. When the troops landed in Louisiana they dumped the crates there and the termites began their attack. Not all invasive species are able to survive in a new environment and are sometimes out competed by the native species. In this case the Formosan subterranean termites were able to survive in New Orleans because it is hot and sticky, resembling their home climate. Also the fact that New Orleans is practically made of wood also contributed to their ability to survive. They were able to compete with the local termite species because they live above and below the ground whereas the local termites only live underground. These termites have become so much of a problem that the question isn’t if you will get termites, it’s when will you get termites and how bad will it be. The people of New Orleans can no longer trust the stability of the houses they live in.
Entomologist Claudia Riegel, lead investigator, realized that taking on the task of exterminating these termites would be a bit much and instead decided to try and manage them. She uses the termites habits against them. These termites stick together and more importantly they eat together. Bait stations were set up underground all throughout the city. These bait stations are pieces of wood with tasty stuff on them which of course attracts termites. The purpose of these bait stations are to cut off the supply lines to the main nests.The strategy used by Dr. Riegel was very smart. I am curious to know how this strategy worked and if it has made a significant difference. I feel that if this approach is not effective the next step should be try and eliminate the termites on a larger scale.
The economy right now in the United States isn’t very stable and people are losing many things they own most noticeable their homes. However, in Louisiana it’s not because of money but because of an invasive species called the Formosan subterranean termite. It is believed that the termites stowed away in the wood boxes that were made in China to send home stuff from World War II. These insects live in enormous colonies and eat all wood. One major reason these certain termites out competed native termites is because they form nests above ground rather than underground so they aren’t affected by bug spraying. Formosan termites are an extremely destructive force due to their numbers and the amount of food (wood) they can consume and can cause significant structural damage to a house in months.
Regulating these alien species has been a difficult task. Their numbers are so vast and it is hard to locate exactly where they are. So far a biologist has placed tasty pieces of wood for termites underground for them to snack on. When termites are detected, they are removed and the wood is replaced with a poison then the termites are dumped back in. The termites will carry this poison back to the rest of the colony and ultimately destroy them.
This approach to rid of the termites appears effective. First, it is easy to do and wont cost a lot of money. Second, only the termite population will be affected since they are essentially killing themselves. Last, it’s the only way I can think of that would penetrate into the termites nests. The only problem I see is how we are going to be able to tell if this approach is actually working. Also, by the time this poison reaches every nest and colony it will probably be too late and most homes will either have damage or be destroyed. We need to think of something more swift in the attack of the termites because there isn’t much time and there is lots of ground to cover.
Though it may not be especially apparent at first glance, the city of New Orleans is under attack by a small, persistent pest. If left uncontested, it could seriously damage the homes and lives of the city’s residents. They were actually originally stow-aways from Japan, and with the surrender of WWII, and the need to package everything up and ship it back to the United States, lots of local asian wood was used, and along with this wood came the termites. They flourished as invaders because the climate of New Orleans is very similar to that of Japan, along with the fact they can reproduce quickly, and often go unnoticed until it is simply too late. Not to mention the fact New Orleans is basically all made of wood.
One of the ways that scientists are trying to take care of this problem is by setting up traps with tasty paper that attract termites, attached to a circuit. So when the termites eat the paper, the circuit is broken, and when they run over the spot with a metal detector, researchers will easily be able to tell if there have been termites there. Then, the tasty paper can be replaced with poisonous paper, and that particular nest can be killed. Though this will not by any means get rid of the termites as a whole, at least it is taking a step in the right direction.
It seems to me that this problem has gotten too out of control, and that New Orleans will have to take some incredibly drastic measures to keep these pests in check. Though what the researchers in film was interesting, it seems completely impractical on a large scale. All new homes will have to be built of non-wood materials, traps and monitoring systems put in place, and other prevention methods will have to be developed. I honestly had never heard of this issue though before this video, and though the city of New Orleans probably wouldn’t want everyone to know about their termite problem for tourism issues, it seems like they might be able to attract more activists and people who want to fix the problem if they made it more public perhaps? This might be a good idea, since sadly, the alternative is letting the city pretty much literally collapse before their eyes.
Photo from here.
New Orleans is being overrun. It has been for about 60 years, since the first Formosan subterranean termites are said to have come to the United States. Scientists believe the little invaders came over in World War II crates, hidden to the people transporting them. Troops coming home from Japan and China were unaware of the danger hidden inside the wooden crates they were packing to come home. In under 20 years, the termites had taken over the city, and by now they are everywhere. The majority of buildings in New Orleans now have at least some termite damage, and the city is forced to spend ridiculous amounts of money each year on termite control. It is estimated that the United States spends roughly one and a half billion dollars every year on termite control, and most of the damage is done by the subterranean termites.
Scientist Claudia Riegal spends her time finding these termites and keeping the city together despite their best efforts to stop her. She uses bait strategically placed to cut off supply lines to the main nests and does her best to keep the termite population as low as possible. Scientists like Miss Riegal know it would be all but impossible to completely get rid of the termite infestation, but many methods like hers are used to kill portions of the population and keep termites from destroying buildings all over the place. Often, a preemptive strike is the most effective way to keep the invaders away. Chemical soil barriers are put around the building to keep the termites out, but once they get in, bait stations like Claudia Riegal’s are often used. Once the colony is believed to be destroyed, modifications to the building can be made such as removing the wood in contact with soil and improving sub-floor ventilation.
To me, it seems as if an infestation like that present in New Orleans seems almost impossible to battle. The only way to keep termites from going place to place is to basically scan the wood to see what is inside, and let’s be honest that is just not going to happen. It is very difficult to tell if there are termites in a home or building until it becomes painfully obvious and once it is that obvious, there is nothing left to do. The methods used by scientists and exterminators are good and effective on a small scale, but it is a constant uphill battle that costs quite a bit of money and man-power.
In the late 1940’s, following World War II, weary Americans set about crating their supplies to ship from Tokyo Bay back to the United States. Inadvertently, they also shipped an invader home with them, the termite. After the crates were disposed of in the south, these silent killers began reproducing and expanding in numbers. Several years later, by the 1960’s, they swarmed homes in New Orleans. Unfortunately, they also had an added advantage over native termite populations. Whereas pesticides and other insecticides can control native populations underground, the Coptotermes formosanus has the ability to live aboveground in trees. In addition, the hot and sticky climate of the south was similar to their native China. Soon, all of New Orleans was infested. Now, up to ten different populations can live in a single city block.
Due to the extreme circumstances, population control is a delicate situation. First, researchers must locate the termites. Claudia Riegel, a researcher trying to eradicate the termite problem in New Orleans, is looking to control their populations by leaving bait stations. Basically, these bait stations are areas where she sticks wood into a tube and routinely checks to see if termites have begun eating this wood. If she finds termites, she removes the wood bait and covers the termites in a chemical they will bring back to the nest; a chemical that has the potential to kill entire communities within three months.
Despite the potential of Riegel’s work, even she admits she is dealing with a problem that is difficult to solve. Although it may take three to five years for a colony to reach the millions of termites that distinguish it from the several hundred thousand found in most native colonies, termites reproduce quickly enough that most preventive measures are useless. In fact, this species of termite has never been completely eradicated from an area. Although it seems that she is doing too little (too late) to make a severe impact on the populations, the fact that she is not introducing other alien species makes her work more appealing. As long as she continues to create bait stations and attract termite populations, her chemical warfare method might be effective in at least limiting the spread of this dangerous alien. At the moment, it seems like the best solution to a problem that has become an endemic for the already struggling New Orleans population. As houses and boats are getting eaten increasingly rapidly, I think this method of population control may be the last chance to save the city from total devastation.
Termites causing houses to topple, water hyacinth choking the shores of a prosperous fishing lake, and trees causing landslides are all issues discussed in the episode titled “Invaders” from the documentary series Strange Days on Planet Earth. The plants and animals mentioned in the episode are all invasive species, ones that have moved to a new area and begun to thrive there, often with detrimental effects to the native species in that region. This increasingly rapid spread of species is mostly the fault of humans, who provide easy rides for species on the move. The movement of species out of their native range is a process that occurs naturally, but it’s recent meteoric acceleration is directly related to the many ways that the world has become connected through trade. Edward Norton, narrator and host of the series, put it well when he said that, “globalization of trade drives globalization of species.”
“Invaders” gave a broad overview of invasive species, such as how and why some species have been able to adapt so well in new areas, and also focused in on some specific and particularly dramatic problem areas. One of these was the presence of foreign termites in New Orleans. These termites feel right at home in the warm, humid climate and are happily munching away on the many wood homes, causing huge amounts of property damage. The termites were introduced when troops coming home from Asia after World War II made crates from trees there, trees in which the termites were living. Another invader discussed in the episode was the Miconia tree, a native of Mexico that was introduced to Hawaii because of it’s ornamental appeal. This tree has spread and shaded out native trees, causing them to die and leaving only the shallow roots of Miconia in the soil. Because of this, there have been increasingly bad landslides and increased erosion, sending more sediment into the waters around the island. This sediment smothers coral reefs, killing the coral and many of its associated species.
Invasive species are damaging to property, human health, and native species in the areas that they invade. In fact, just behind loss of habitat, invasive species are a leading cause of extinction for native species. I think that the documentary portrayed the topic of invasive species very well, touching on everything from why some species have been so invasive to the far reaching effects that they can have on property and industry (the water hyacinth in Lake Victoria was a big issue for the local fishermen). “Invaders” is a well-made film that I would recommend to anyone interested in more information about invasive species.
In National Geographic documentary “Strange Days on Planet Earth,” the narrator, Edward Norton, passionately describes the foreign termite that has been eating away at the homes of Louisiana residents for the past 70 years. Follow the Japanese surrender of World War II, the soldiers in the Pacific built wooden crates out of wood native to China and Japan, in order to facilitate the shipment of supplies and goods back to the United States. Many of these crates, which were unknowingly infested with invasive termites ended up at Louisiana military bases, and ultimately in landfills, where the termites were able to escape and enter the warm, humid Louisiana climate where they thrive. And for the past 70 years, the termite population has grown to a staggering number. With a population so great, the termite is slowly but surely eating away at all the wooden Louisiana houses, churches, and buildings, leaving behind collapsed structures and the termites’ little white wings.
The person leading the fight against the invasive termite in New Orleans is Claudia Riegel. She understands that the fight to totally eliminate the termite has already been lost, but believes she can still win the battle to control the termite population. She knows that there are countless underground termite nests within the city limits, with each housing millions of termites; however, they are hard to find and time spent looking for them could be used more efficiently in other tasks. Instead, she is trying to control the population by poisoning the termites along their massive system of underground supply-lines. Ms. Riegel believes this is very effective because after the termites feed on the poison soaked rags, they will live long enough to make in back to the nest, still carrying the poison on them, and potentially kill a large number of termites within the colony.
I think Ms. Riegel’s strategy is currently working, but will not for much longer. Eventually as the problem gets greater, she and her colleagues will need more financial resources; however, legislators probably wont be willing to continue increasing the amount allocated to this issue.
Additionally, the movie made me wonder how the termite problem responded to Hurricane Katrina. I could imagine that the population skyrocketed because of all the destroyed houses that the termite was able to feed on. But also, I could imagine that the prolonged flood waters would have destroyed many underground nests.