Entomology in the Service of the State: Queensland Scientists and the Campaign against Cane Beetles, 1895–1950
Historical Records of Australian Science
16(1) 1 - 29
Published: 30 May 2005
The Queensland sugar industry between 1880 and 1950 faced a major agricultural crisis. The annual cane crops were attacked periodically by white grubs, the larvae of different species of native beetles found along the Queensland coast. Both canegrower and miller suffered considerable financial losses during these outbreaks. Entomologists engaged by the Queensland Government sought strategies to reduce this damage. This paper begins by discussing the biology of the beetles that troubled the Queensland sugar industry. The organizations and personalities involved in the research to combat the depredation by the white grubs are outlined in the second part of this paper. The extent of the canegrowers' adoption of the entomologists' advice on ways to reduce the impact of white grubs is reviewed in the third section of this paper. In the final section, the solution to the canegrowers' woes is discussed, although it will be highlighted that the widespread adoption of benzene hexachloride in the 1950s only provided protection until the Queensland Government banned the use of this insecticide in 1987.
Full text doi:10.1071/HR05004
© Australian Academy of Science 2005