Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean: Remembering Chinese Scientist Pu Zhelong's Work for Sustainable Farming

by Sigrid Schmalzer and Melanie Linden Chan

A fictional narrator recounts real-life scientist Pu Zhelong’s pest-control... read more

A fictional narrator recounts real-life scientist Pu Zhelong’s pest-control efforts with Chinese farmers in the province of Guangdong. Known in the 1960s and 1970s for their lychees and rice, village farmers struggled to eradicate the stinkbugs and leafroller moths that wreaked havoc on their crops. When they began using chemical pesticides, the problem seemed to be solved—until the pests returned even stronger the next year, forcing the farmers to up their pesticide use in what quickly became an increasingly poisonous and futile cycle. Pu Zhelong, who lived in the city of Guangzhou and had studied in the United States, traveled to the village to help the farmers implement a natural form of pest control: wasps that lay their eggs inside moth eggs, destroying the moth larvae before they have a chance to hatch. Cooperation between the initially reluctant village farmers and Pu Zhelong represents the merging of the concepts of soil (“local, rural, humble, and Chinese”) and ocean (“foreign, modern, elite, and Western”), with the goal of achieving environmentally sustainable—and effective—pest control. (Ages 6–10)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2019

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