The in­sect war­fare on ‘The Amer­i­cans’ isn’t all that out­landish

How re­al­is­tic is any of this? Well, it’s hardly plucked from thin air.

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360LIFE - By Stephanie Merry The Wash­ing­ton Post Amer­i­cans

This sea­son on the spy drama “The Amer­i­cans,” the Cold War hinges on a few in­sects.

Just as the shelves in Soviet gro­cery stores are be­com­ing bar­ren, Rus­sian agents El­iz­a­beth and Philip Jen­nings (Keri Rus­sell and Matthew Rhys) stum­ble onto a ter­ri­fy­ing Amer­i­can plot. It looks like the United States is breed­ing an in­sect ca­pa­ble of ei­ther de­stroy­ing Rus­sia’s wheat sup­ply or poi­son­ing the wheat the U.S. ex­ports to the Sovi­ets. Ei­ther way, it would be a dev­as­tat­ing blow to El­iz­a­beth and Philip’s moth­er­land, so the pair get to work thwart­ing lab ex­per­i­ments (and killing some in­no­cent by­standers along the way).

So how re­al­is­tic is any of this? It’s hardly plucked from thin air.

Univer­sity of Wyoming pro­fes­sor Jef­frey Lock­wood wrote a book about en­to­mo­log­i­cal war­fare, “Six-Legged Sol­diers: Us­ing In­sects as Weapons of War,” and he weighed in on where the story line might have come from.

The U.S. was in­deed ac­cused » of en­to­mo­log­i­cal war­fare dur­ing the Cold War — but not by Rus­sia.

“There were a num­ber of ac­cu­sa­tions made by the Cubans that we had used in­sects to spread dengue fever and a whole bunch of crop pests,” Lock­wood said. But the ac­cu­sa­tions, which were mainly lobbed dur­ing the 1960s ev­ery time Cuba had an is­sue with its crops, were never proved.

PA­TRICK HARBRON/FX PHOTO

Keri Rus­sell as Rus­sian spy El­iz­a­beth Jen­nings on the FX se­ries “The Amer­i­cans.”

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