Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 68.djvu/435

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431
NATIONAL CONTROL OF INSECT PESTS

NATIONAL CONTROL OF INTRODUCED INSECT PESTS
By Professor E. DWIGHT SANDERSON

NEW HAMPSHIRE COLLEGE

THE boll weevil in Texas and the gypsy and brown-tail moths in New England are raising some points in the relations between the states and the federal government in insect control which seem to involve new principles, whose discussion may not be untimely.

Here we have insects which the infested states fail to control, either through inability or neglect, and they spread beyond their boundaries. Quarantines against them are comparatively useless, unless the insects are controlled in the badly infested regions. But why should one state tax itself to subdue a pest which is causing it loss and others gain from increased prices, as in the case with the cotton boll weevil, to prevent it from spreading to them? On the other hand, if it is possible for the state to do so, is the national government justified in assuming the task if it had the authority? Congress makes appropriations to aid in the study of insect pests for the information of the inhabitants of uninfested states, but can it legislate so that a federal official may have authority to proceed in preventing the introduction, or exterminating or controlling any pest which threatens to invade other states and to seriously threaten their welfare? These are new entomological questions of a broad nature which circumstances have forced upon us and which must be solved in the near future.

The writer's first impression, which seems to be the prevailing one, was that the federal government has no authority to make any regulations toward exterminating or controlling an insect pest within a state, except under the laws of that state. Further study of the subject, in relation to the federal control of similar matters of public health and welfare, has forced the conclusion that this view is essentially incorrect and that the national government may have full authority conferred upon it by congress under the constitution for handling the whole situation.

A few points concerning the history of legislation against insect pests in this country may be mentioned to show its present status. Legislation against insect pests in the east was undoubtedly brought about by the introduction and dissemination of the San Jose scale on nursery stock in the early nineties. State after state passed laws concerning nursery inspection and the importation of nursery stock and some concerning inspection of orchards, etc. Some were good; others