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Parasites, politics and public science: the promotion of biological control in Western Australia, 1900–1910


Biological control of arthropods emerged as a scientific enterprise in the late nineteenth century and the orchard industry of California was an early centre of expertise. In 1900, as the Australian colonies prepared for federation, each had a government entomologist attached to its agriculture department. The hiring of George Compere from California by the Western Australian Department of Agriculture began a controversial chapter in the early history of biological control that was linked to a late, local popularization of acclimatization. Compere became known as the ‘travelling entomologist’ and for a decade brought ‘parasites’ of pest insects from overseas and released them in Perth. His antagonistic disciplinary rhetoric and inflated claims for the ‘parasite theory’ created conflict with his counterparts in the eastern states. The resulting inter-state entomological controversy was played out in the press, revealing the political use of science for institutional and even state identity. It is a story of transnational exchanges, chance discoveries and popular public science: popular because of the promise of a simple, natural solution to agricultural insect pests and because of the public nature of the disputes it generated between the experts. This microcosm contributes to the global historiography of acclimatization, biological control, scientific exposition and the professionalization of agricultural science.

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1 Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers' Advocate (Sydney), 1 August 1903, p. 8.

2 Sunday Times (Perth), 10 December 1905, p. 1.

3 Maynard G.V., Hamilton J.G. and Grimshaw J.F., ‘Quarantine – Phytosanitary, sanitary and incursion management: an Australian entomological perspective’, Australian Journal of Entomology (2004) 43, pp. 318328, 320. They refer to Aconophora compressa, a tree hopper species released in 1995 to control lantana, found damaging native trees in 2003; the Victorian, Ballarat, NSW and Qld Acclimatisation Societies introduced Ligurian honeybees in the 1860s, when ‘British’ bees were already naturalized.

4 Raymond Wright, ‘“Dispensed With” A.R. Wallis, first Secretary for Agriculture in Victoria 1872–1882’, Department of Agriculture of Victoria, Research Project Series No 150, December 1982, Melbourne, pp. 24–25. The first colonial biosecurity legislation was introduced in 1880 after grape phylloxera appeared in Victorian vineyards. Alexander Wallis's sacking hinged on political claims of misconduct during the phylloxera eradication campaign; Adelaide Observer, 1 April 1882, p. 11; 18 August 1888, p. 9. Concern in the 1880s centred around the consequences of the introduction of the hessian fly, most likely through straw packing in imported products. As a pest of wheat and other grains it would be a potentially serious pest and the fact that it would have no natural enemies was discussed by the South Australian Agriculture Bureau. As an example of the biosecurity risks posed by plant imports during the period, in 1897 WA recorded import of 55,000 cases of fruit, 20,000 vines and 20,000 pot plants. Producers' Gazette and Settlers Record Western Australia (1898) 5(1), p. 70.

5 Wille Sheila, ‘The ichneumon fly and the equilibration of British natural economies in the eighteenth century’, BJHS (2015) 48, pp. 639660. Wille explores the heyday of interest in the parasitic Hymenoptera ‘ichneumon fly’, from 1770 to 1860. Wille proposes an alternative view of the evil actions of eating caterpillar hosts ‘from the inside out’ for the fascination, identifying it instead as a metaphor for a combination of agricultural production, population and social-control issues. J.H. Perkins and R. Garcia, ‘Social and economic factors affecting research and implementation of biological control’, in T.S. Bellows and T.W. Fisher (eds.), Handbook of Biological Control, San Diego: Academic Press, 1999, pp. 993–1009. Like numerous scientific references on the discipline, the authors mention Linnaeus, Kirby and Spence and Darwin as presaging the potential of insect biological control.

6 Richard C. Sawyer, To Make a Spotless Orange: Biological Control in California, Ames: Iowa University Press, 1996, p. 19. A large contingent of Iowa townsfolk came to Riverside in the 1870s.

7 Daily News, 26 May 1909, p. 9.

8 G.M. Gurr, N.D. Barlow, J. Memmott, S.D. Wratten and D.J. Greathead, ‘A history of methodological, theoretical and empirical approaches to biological control’, in G.M. Gurr and S.D. Wratten (eds.), Biological Control: Measures of Success, Dordecht: Kleuwer, 2000, pp. 3–37, table at 7.

9 Peter Coates, American Perceptions of Immigrant and Invasive Species: Strangers on the Land, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006, p. 8. Coates identifies the notion of ‘mobile nature’ as useful for the uncontrollable spread of invasive species in the USA. Chapter 3 deals with racial connotations of parallels with human and animal immigrations.

10 Warren C.R., ‘Perspectives on the “alien” versus “native” species debate: a critique of concepts, language and practice’, Progress in Human Geography (2007) 31, pp. 427436. Pest species were seen as negative on equivalent agricultural grounds to Charles Warren's proposed ‘damage criterion’ for biological conservation priorities.

11 Richardson D.M., Pysek P., Simberloff D., Rejmanek M. and Mader A.D., ‘Biological invasion as – the widening debate: a response to Charles Warren’, Progress in Human Geography (2008) 32, pp. 295298, gives a critique of Warren in the conservation context, which is applicable to agriculture; FAO, report of 28th Conference, ‘G’ International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures, at, accessed 18 August 2015; R.U. Ehlers (ed.), Regulation of Biological Control Agents, Dordecht: Springer, 2011. More stringent tests of possible negative consequences for non-target organisms were introduced from the 1920s.

12 John L. Long, Introduced Birds of the World: The Worldwide History, Distribution and Influence of Birds Introduced to New Environments, Terrey Hills, NSW: Reed, 1981, pp. 359–362.

13 Jenkins C.F.H.. ‘The starling’, Emu (1929) 29, pp. 4950; Andrew P. Woolnough, M.C. Massam, R.L. Payne and G.S. Pickles, ‘Out on the border: keeping starlings out of Western Australia’, Proceedings of the 13th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference, Te Papa Wellington, New Zealand, 2–6 May 2005, pp. 183–189. In the 1970s the Agriculture Protection Board and the department began a long-term programme to eradicate incursions from the east across the Nullarbor Plain and shooters still manned the border with South Australia into this century.

14 Froggatt W.W., ‘Economic Entomology in Australia’, Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales (1898) 9, pp. 131138. Froggatt detailed the progress of the new discipline. The first annual meeting of the Association of Economic Entomologists took place in Washington on 12 November 1889; Adelaide Observer, 1 April 1882, p. 11; South Australian Register, 4 September 1882, p. 6. The term ‘economic entomology’ had been in general use in Britain for more than a decade after publication of the book of the same name by Andrew Murray in 1877. In Adelaide, Frazer Crawford had recommended the creation of a museum of economic entomology in 1881, and referred to students of ‘economic entomology’ in an address to the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia.

15 Daily News, 23 November 1905, p. 5. George Compere was born in Davenport, Iowa. He moved to California and at age twenty and was in charge of a large orchard in Los Angeles in the 1890s. See, accessed 15 April 2013. He became an inspector for the County Board of Horticulture, then the California Board, and took a position in Hawaii in 1898. His son, Harold Compere (1896–1978), was an early aviator and followed George in the trade of biological control in 1919, gaining credit for the collection of a parasite of the mealybug in Australia in 1927. West Australian, 17 June 1933, p. 6. Compere was said to have been a French Canadian by his former assistant, L.J. Newman, in a lecture given at the Royal Society of Western Australia on ‘Scientific conflict with insects'.

16 Musgrave Thomas, ‘Western Australia's secessionist movement’, Macquarie Law Journal (2003) 3, pp. 95129.

17 The Sunday Times, whose proprietor James MacCallum Smith favoured secession, began publishing openly secessionist articles in 1907, which continued to the 1930s. The movement culminated in a referendum on secession in 1933 in which a majority of electorates and voters opted for withdrawal from the Commonwealth of Australia.

18 West Australian, 15 June 1897, p. 4. Committee members also included George Throssell, Justice E.A. Stone, Charles Lee Steere and W. Paterson.

19 Minard Peter, ‘Assembling acclimatisation: Frederick McCoy, European ideas, Australian circumstances’, Historical Records of Australian Science (2013) 24, pp. 114. The Acclimatisation Society of Victoria's active introductions were in decline by the 1870s. It was renamed the Zoological and Acclimatisation Society, which reflected its new preoccupation with the display of exotic animals.

20 Gillbank Linden, ‘The origins of the Acclimatisation Society of Victoria: practical science in the wake of the gold rush’, Historical Records of Australian Science (1986) 6, pp. 359374.

21 One other notable acclimatization zoo established around that time was Barcelona Zoo in 1892 under the directorship of Francesc Darder. Darder's vision of acclimatization for ecological socialism was presented by Oliver Hochadel at the 2014 BSHS conference.

22 Destructive birds’, Producers Gazette and Settlers Record Western Australia (1898) 5(1), pp. 2829; West Australian, 24 January 1898, p. 3; Western Mail, 28 January 1898, p. 15. Le Souëf was a strong advocate of starlings to solve all kinds of insect problems. Despeissis suggested the introduction of numerous other birds such as woodpeckers and nightingales.

23 Inquirer and Commercial News, 28 January 1898, p. 4. Helms was quoted as being ‘tooth and nail’ against the introduction of starlings.

24 West Australian Sunday Times, 12 June 1898, p. 7: ‘Expert Experts … I have often wondered why it is that our imported, highly-educated, experienced, well-paid experts often disagree … we lose confidence in experts generally when one of them makes a statement – as a fact – and he is directly contradicted by another Government expert or by scientists who are recognised as authorities on a subject.’

25 Jenkins Clee F.H., ‘Biological control in Western Australia’, presidential address, 1946, Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia (1947) 32, pp. 117, 2. Claude Fuller was born and educated in Sydney, and worked as an entomologist in Africa from 1899. His final, fatal appointment was as chief entomologist in Mozambique in 1928.

26 James E. McWilliams, ‘Biological control, transnational exchange and the construction of environmental thought in the United States, 1840–1920’, in E.M. Bsumek, A. Kinkela and M.A. Lawrence (eds.), Nation-States and the Global Environment: New Approaches to International Environmental History, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 163–180.

27 The terms ‘newlands’ and ‘new wests’ are used by James Belich to characterize settlement booms in the inland of both colonial and ex-colonial countries. See James Belich, Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo World, 1783–1939, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 85.

28 Sawyer, op. cit. (6), p. 15.

29 Lea and Fuller, and the biologist Richard Helms, all moved to WA from positions in the NSW Department of Agriculture. Daily News, 26 May 1909, p. 9. Harper (MLC) was joint proprietor with J.W. Hackett (MLC), who was also the editor.

30 Inquirer & Commercial News, 1 February 1901, p. 11. Harper inserted a letter describing Compere's work. Despeissis replied in the same issue, saying that such a man as Compere, a ‘specialist’ and ‘competent entomologist’, was trained for this painstaking work.

31 Among the places Compere visited on parasite business were Spain, Italy, France, Asia Minor, Palestine, India, Ceylon, the USA, Brazil, Timor, Japan, China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and England.

32 Western Mail, 18 July 1903, p. 5; Daily News, 7 November 1905, p. 12. Compere was in Perth for just ten days.

33 Western Mail, 6 June 1903, p. 5. Mauritian-born Despeissis was a graduate of Britain's Cirencester Agricultural College. He was also an early advocate of acclimatization and suggested a long list of birds in 1898.

34 Examples of the style of the particular ‘pressman’ include Western Mail, 3 June 1905, p. 70: ‘Bronzed and travel-weary with the dust of three continents and the spray of as many seas comparatively fresh upon him … Compere, grand chief insect hunter, returned’; Daily News, 14 July 1903, p. 1; Daily News, 26 May 1909, p. 9: ‘Mr Compere's face was a story without words’.

35 Daily News, 26 May 1905, p. 10. ‘Codlin moth’ was common usage for the insect now known as the codling moth.

36 Compere came from California at a time when Randolph Hearst's newspapers were transforming the US media from partisan political to sensational ‘yellow’ journalism. See William J. Bernstein, Masters of the Word: How Media Shaped History, New York: Grove/Atlantic Press, 2013, pp. 208–211.

37 Compere attributed the parasite theory to Alexander Craw of the Horticulture Board in the 1880s.

38 Daily News, 14 July 1904, p. 1.

39 The Australasian, 22 November 1902, p. 15. Froggatt differentiated the ‘eastern’ and Californian ‘schools’.

40 Froggatt W.W., ‘The limitations of parasites in the destruction of scale insects’, Agricultural Gazette of NSW (1902) 13(11), pp. 10871093, 1092.

41 Froggatt, op. cit. (40), p. 1092.

42 Western Mail, 15 August 1903, p. 10; West Australian, 10 August 1904, p. 7. Cooper also made the offer to New Zealand: Journal of Agriculture W.A. (1906) 13, pp. 457–458.

43 Western Mail, 28 January 1905, p. 10. The department received a letter from the Queensland Department of Agriculture, expressing an interest in the findings of parasite introductions: Daily News, 2 February 1905, p. 1, reference to interest by Claude Fuller, then Natal entomologist; Daily News, 30 November 1905, second edn, p. 5. The cost of Compere's travels and programme were questioned in the WA parliament.

44 Western Mail, 15 August 1903, p. 9; 3 June 1905, p. 7. Compere calls Froggatt and others ‘kerosene entomologists’.

45 Daily News, 28 November 1904, p. 10; 28 May 1904, p. 9.

46 Daily News, 26 May 1905, p. 10; 16 June 1906, p. 4; Australian Town and Country Journal, 31 May 1905, p. 11; Western Mail, 15 August 1903, p. 10.

47 Western Mail, 21 February 1903, p. 10.

48 West Australian, 16 June 1905, p. 3. The windowless insectorium was built on the Public Park side of the Agriculture Department building in St Georges Terrace.

49 West Australian, 20 December 1905, p. 8.

50 Western Mail, 23 December 1905, p. 9.

51 Daily News, 26 May 1905, p. 10.

52 West Australian, 19 December 1905, p. 7.

53 West Australian, 20 December 1905, p. 8; Western Mail, 23 December 1905, p. 9. Lowe claimed that the two assistants who were to replace him were each paid more than he was.

54 Western Mail, 19 May 1906, p. 6. One of Compere's methods was to import whole trees infested with both unidentified pests and parasites but this, along with refrigeration, had been standard practice since Koebele's 1889 shipments.

55 Sunday Times, 16 September 1906, p. 4. An earlier example from the West Australian, 23 February 1906, p. 6: ‘When the Director of Agriculture institutes the inquiry he has promised into the vexed question of parasite v. sprays. etc. who will constitute the tribunal now that he has publicly expressed his views in favour of parasites and allowed the chief inspector to do likewise? It seems to me in withholding the contrary views, we are not getting both sides of the question, such as a jury requires. Expressing a verdict before the case is heard in open court is to say the least, indiscreetly unfair. Yours. etc., T. HEWETT-HOEY. Perth, February 17.’

56 Daily News, 25 May 1906, p. 4; 26 May 1906, p. 8; Western Mail, 24 February 1906, p. 8. Hooper was then in charge of the local part of the parasite programme, having swapped offices with Lowe in September 1905.

57 Bunbury Herald, 30 May 1906, p. 2.

58 Western Mail, 26 May 1906, p. 6.

59 K. Jordan and H. Eltringham, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Entomology, Oxford, August 1912, London: Entomological Society of London, 1914, p. 43.

60 Daily News, 16 July 1906, p. 4. The editorial article was repeated again on p. 8. The article was about the eastern states' blind refusal to buy the codlin moth parasite. Referring to the Melbourne press, ‘they would have it that WA is a mining camp, with a convict settlement in the background, and a few poppet heads in the foreground’. The term ‘socialistic visionary’ was common in the newspapers at the time to describe the conflicts in federal politics between Deakin's protectionist government and the ‘socialist’ Labor opposition and fears of the nationalization of some agricultural industries. I have not found any article in the Melbourne press critical of Compere's methods; op. cit. (27), p. 359, describes government overfunding of railways during booster development in Canada and Victoria as an example of bureaucratic ‘public-choice’ theory.

61 Walter Froggatt, Report on Parasitic and Injurious Insects: 1907–08, Sydney: NSW Department of Agriculture, 1909, p. 1. West Australian, 13 March 1907, p. 9. WA requests eastern states' financial contribution.

62 Sydney Morning Herald, 24 June 1907, p. 7. ‘Mr Froggatt has kept a level head all though the time during which the discoveries of the fruit fly, codlin moth and other parasites have been blared out in American and other publications.’

63 Queensland had insisted that Froggatt investigate the programme in WA at the end of his trip.

64 West Australian, 18 July 1908, p. 6; 27 July 1908, p. 4. On a stopover in Adelaide he was quoted as saying to the state minister, ‘I have no more faith in the value of parasites as an absolute solution of the orchard pest problems than before I undertook the trip’.

65 Froggatt, op. cit. (61), pp. 56–57. Froggatt was adamant there had been no such offer, writing that he had offered to stay a further week if there might be anything to see and Despeissis had ‘distinctly answered that there was nothing more to show me, either in the office or the orchard’, and that Despeissis had said there would be nothing to see in winter.

66 Daily News, 11 July 1908, p. 2.

67 West Australian, 14 April 1895, p. 3.

68 The Daily News, 15 September 1908, p. 8, contained a full page of detailed columns on the Froggatt snub to WA. Much seemed to hinge on detailed recounts of conversations between Newman, Despeisses and Froggatt over who had ‘point blank’ refused whom. Sunday Times, 16 April 1905, p. 4; 19 November 1905, p. 7. When the WA Department had tried to get the eastern states to contribute to the ‘Westralian’ parasite programme, there were several supportive letters to the papers.

69 Froggatt, op. cit. (61), p. 69.

70 Sunday Times, 22 May 1910, p. 8.

71 West Australian, 28 August 1926, p. 12.

72 Bruno Latour, The Pasteurization of France (trans. A. Sheridan and J. Law), Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988, p. 12. Bruno Latour's analysis of the way that different ‘control groups’ were unified through ‘networks of association’ around the central scientific figure of Louis Pasteur during the French microbiological ‘revolution’ set the example for agnostic, ethnographic reading of a documentary historiography from scientific journals. See also Nimmo Richie, ‘Actor-network theory and methodology: social research in a more-than-human world’, Methodological Innovations Online (2011) 6(3), pp. 108119. Nimmo has shown how the methods could be applied to an agricultural setting in examining the commodification of milk in Britain.

73 Latour, op. cit. (72), p. 56: ‘hybridisation of the Pasteurians and the hygienists multiplied the power of both’.

74 Michel Callon, ‘Some elements of a sociology of translation: domestication of the scallops and the fishermen of St Brieuc Bay’, in J. Law (ed.), Power, Action and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge?, London: Routledge, 1986, pp. 196–223, 206. Enrolment is defined as the successful result of ‘enterresement’ in building alliances.

75 Compere and Despeissis often cited the defeat of scale insects, in particular black scale, which they said had previously covered trees in Perth. But even this claim was contested by correspondent ‘Evergreen’ in the West Australian, 22 April 1909, p. 6, who directed Compere to various trees close to where the parasites were housed to find black scale.

76 Examples are given here of reference to scientific control of a potential pest, of the anthropomorphized descriptions of the insects' activities, and of the actual situation in the insectorium: West Australian, 26 May 1905, p. 7, ‘at present some 10,000 odd flies [imported fruit flies] are thriving under State management and control’; Daily News, 14 July 1904, p. 1, ‘on all sides were mysterious jars teeming with insects of every type … the fruit fly parasite, captured and brought home safely’; West Australian, 16 June 1905, p. 3, ‘Mr. Compere carefully lifts a rotten orange and discloses an ugly black centipede-beetle thing with a shiny back. “There's a beauty,” enthuses the learned breeder; “Isn't he doing well? See the grubs he's been at! What is he? Why, he's Staphylinidae – predaceous beetle on the fruit fly. There are thousands of him already – you'll find him in nearly every piece of fruit. Ah! that chap you're looking at now is the fruit fly proper. Have a look at him through this glass”’; Daily News, 26 May 1905, p. 10, ‘On the floor, on the tables, on the shelves – on everything that could hold it, was piled decomposing fruit. The air was heavy with the stench of the fruit, and with insects. To breathe through the mouth was to inspire countless flies. And the heat was insufferable. “See that one! He's got a maggot. Here, come and have a look at him.” The representative of “The Daily News” climbed over a case of aged fruit, and peered underneath a shelf into a conglomeration of insects, maggots, dirt, and fruit.’

77 West Australian, 22 July 1908, p. 3.

78 Windsor and Richmond Gazette, 16 February 1907, p. 7.

79 Froggatt, op. cit. (61), p. 68.

80 Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers' Advocate, 9 September 1905, p. 7; Daily News, 27 August 1908, p. 10; West Australian, 27 January 1908.

81 One of the few illustrations used in WA journals was a rough sketch of a chalcid fly parasite of fruit fly from India by E.H. Bailey in L.J. Newman, ‘The fruit fly parasite’, Journal of Agriculture W.A. (July 1908) 17, pp. 561–563.

82 Ian R. Tyrrell, True Gardens of the Gods: California–Australia Environmental Reform 1860–1930, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. They were despatched by different newspapers.

83 J.M. Powell, ‘Enterprise and dependency: water management in Australia’, in T. Griffiths and L. Robin (eds.), Ecology and Empire: Environmental History of Settler Societies, Carlton South, Victoria: Melbourne University Press, 1997, pp. 102–121, 112.

84 Western Perspectives on a Nation, Library Information Service of Western Australia, The Land, at, accessed 24 July 2015. Trial shipments of apples were made to London and Bremen in 1906: Journal of Agriculture W.A. (1906) 13, p. 3.

85 Sawyer, op. cit. (6), p. 16.

86 A.L. Olmstead and P.W. Rhode, Creating Abundance: Biological Innovation and American Agricultural Development, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008, pp. 246–248; Sawyer, op. cit. (6), p. 14; McWilliams, op. cit. (26), p. 175; J.E. McWilliams, American Pests: The Losing War on Insects from Colonial Times to DDT, New York: Columbia University Press, 2008, p. 90.

87 At meetings of the Horticultural and Agricultural Society, the Gardener's Society established in the 1850s, and the Agricultural Bureau in the 1860s, there were discussions and publication of information on injurious insects and of invasive threats posed by such insects as the hessian fly from Europe. Adelaide Observer, 18 August 1888, p. 9. For discussion of the learned societies established in early the utopian settlement of the South Australian colony see Deveson E.D., ‘The Adelaide Philosophical Society and the early accommodation of the Darwin–Wallace theory of natural selection’, Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia (2013) 137, pp. 151167.

88 South Australian Register, 4 September 1882, p. 7. At a Gardener's Society meeting Crawford mentioned that it had been introduced from NSW.

89 South Australian Register, 5 October 1889, p. 7. Crawford was born in Scotland and spent time in Sydney and Melbourne before moving to Adelaide in 1861. Crawford was a member of the South Australian Bureau of Agriculture, the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia and the Farmer's Club. He was also a professional photographer and wrote several booklets on fungoid and insect pests of orchards in the early 1880s, which included the first use of photographs of plant diseases.

90 Adelaide Observer, 6 October 1888, p. 12.

91 Australian Town & Country Journal, 17 November 1888, p. 21.

92 University of California, Riverside, ‘Biological control of arthropods, weeds and molluscs', at, accessed 24 July 2015. Sydney Town Hall itself was unlikely to have been be a site for either Icerya or Rodolia in 1890, as the building did not have a garden. However, acacias were also a host of Icerya, so the adjacent cathedral garden could have harboured them. See , accessed 3 August 2015.

93 Edward O. Essig, History of Entomology, New York: Hafner, 1965 (facsimile of 1931 edn), p. 373. Compere's acceptance of the WA position may have been influenced by his recall to Sacramento in 1900 because of budget constraints on the bureau's ‘explorations’.

94 South Australian Register, 5 October 1889, p. 7.

95 Although from the same family, that species, the seven-spotted ladybird, appears distinct from Rodolia; other Coccinella spp., such as C. tranversalis, might be mistaken for R. cardinalis.

96 South Australian Register, 5 October 1889, p. 7.

97 Sawyer, op. cit. (6), p. 45.

98 Sawyer, op. cit. (6), p. 27.

99 ‘Saving California's fruit crops', Journal of Agriculture W.A. (1906) 13, pp. 333–338, 338.

100 Rosenberg Charles, ‘Science, technology and economic growth: the case of the agricultural experiment station scientist, 1875–1914’, Agricultural History (1971) 45(1), pp. 120. Rosenberg discusses how the politics of dealing with multiple constituent interests required directors to become ‘research entrepreneurs’. Palladino Paolo, ‘Wizards and devotees: on the Mendelian theory of inheritance and the professionalisation of agricultural science in Great Britain and the United States, 1880–1930’, History of Science (1994) 32(3), pp. 409444.

101 Palladino, op. cit. (100), pp. 416–417.

102 WA appointments Fuller graduated from Melbourne University, Despeissis from Britain's Cirencester Agricultural College, and Newman from Burnleigh Horticultural College in Victoria. Victoria established agricultural colleges in the 1890s and had numerous graduates by 1901.

103 Sawyer, op. cit. (6), pp. 29–31.

104 Sawyer, op. cit. (6), p. 50; Rosenberg, op. cit. (100), p. 12. Eugene Hilgard at the University of California established an experiment station in the 1880s. C.P. Clausen, ‘Biological control of citrus insects', in W. Reuther, E.C. Calavan and G.E. Carman (eds.), The Citrus Industry, vol. 4, Berkeley: UCANR, 1967 (revised 1978), pp. 276–317, 278.

105 Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers' Advocate, 1 August 1903, p. 8.

106 Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers' Advocate, 25 May 1907, p. 11. Liberal candidate H.E. Pratten said, ‘there is something in the “parasite theory” and should be followed up’.

107 In the 1900–1910 period there were over 160 newspaper titles in NSW and twenty-five in WA; one for every 10,000 and 8,000 persons respectively. See Trove, at, accessed 10 February 2015. This does not include some short-lived titles that have not survived for digitization.

108 Pandora Katherine, ‘Knowledge held in common’, ISIS (2001) 92, pp. 484516.

109 Western Mail, 18 July 1903, p. 5.

110 Froggatt, op. cit. (14).

111 West Australian, 28 December 1907, p. 9. French commented that the eradication of fruit fly by parasites was unlikely and that in only a few instances had parasites been successful.

112 Tryon Henry, ‘Insect friends and foes’, Queensland Agricultural Journal (1897) 1, pp. 465472, 471.

113 The Australasian, 30 September 1899, p. 9. Froggatt and French investigate native fungoid disease of the caterpillar pest. Brisbane Courier, 20 April 1898, p. 5. Tryon investigates a brachonid wasp parasite of the Queensland fruit fly.

114 Western Mail, 5 January 1933, p. 33.

115 Jenkins Clee F.H., ‘Biological control in Western Australia’, presidential address, 1946, Journal of the Royal Society W.A. (1947) 32, pp. 117, 2.

116 Libby Robin, How a Continent Created a Nation, Sydney: UNSW Press, 2007. Robin traces the history of agricultural and environmental sciences, including the wool industry, which was seen as a patriotic project of economic nation building, and multiple attempts at the agricultural development of northern Australia.

117 Secord James A., ‘Knowledge in transit’, Isis (2004) 94(4), pp. 654972, 670–671.

118 Michel Biesunski, ‘Popularisation and scientific controversy: the case of the theory of relativity in France’, in T. Shin and R.P. Whitley (eds.), Expository Science: Forms and Functions of Popularisation, Sociology of the Sciences, no 9, Yearbook 1985, Dordecht: D. Reidel Publishing, 1985, pp. 183–194, 185.

119 D. McAlpine, Agricultural Journal of Victoria (1904) 3, p. 469.

120 Ludwig Fleck, Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact (ed. T.J. Tren and R.K. Merton), Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979; first published in German 1935, p. 82. Scientific ideas and evidence that is removed from everyday experience is one characteristic of Fleck's specialized esoteric scientific knowledge.

121 Pandora, op. cit. (108), p. 492.

122 W.W. Froggatt, presidential address 1912, Proceedings of the Linnaean Society of NSW (1913) 37, pp. 1–43, 10. Froggatt described ‘the alliance of Government with science’ in relation to development of the Northern Territory.

123 Richard Yeo exemplified these tensions in his analysis of the popularity, anonymity and criticism of Robert Chambers's Vestiges. See Yeo Richard, ‘Science and intellectual authority in mid-nineteenth-century Britain: Robert Chambers and “Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation”’, Victorian Studies (1984) 28(1), pp. 531. The early practitioners of progressive agriculture also filled their journals with articles on the necessity of cultivating a ‘scientific culture’. See e.g. Fowler J.M., ‘Scientific culture’, Producers Gazette and Settlers Record Western Australia (1898) 5(1), pp. 272275.

124 Dunlap Thomas, ‘Remaking the land: the acclimatisation movement and Anglo ideas of nature’, Journal of World History (1997) 8, pp. 307319. Dunlap focuses on the nostalgic attempts to re-create and repopulate European nature; Harriet Ritvo, ‘Migration, assimilation and invasion in the nineteenth century’, in J. Frawley and I. McCalman (eds.), Rethinking Invasion Ecologies from the Environmental Humanities, Oxford: Routledge, 2014, pp. 17–30. Ritvo focuses on the odd motivations behind the acclimatization of several animals.

125 Chris Tiffen, ‘Five emus to the king of Siam: acclimatisation and colonialism’, in Helen Tiffen (ed.), Five Emus and the King of Siam: Environment and Empire, Cross/Cultures 92, Amsterdam: Rodopi B.V., 2007, pp. 165–176,166. Tiffen gives the example of the Queensland Society. Adelaide Observer, 13 February 1864, p. 2. Mr Lindsay argues in the House of Assembly for funding the South Australian Acclimatisation Society on the grounds of developing agricultural produce to supplement wheat, particularly in bad seasons, to stock the country with ‘productions which would, in the economical point of view, promote its material interest’.

126 Sydney Morning Herald, 27 June 1865, p. 5; The Queenslander, 3 October 1874, p. 5.

127 Clements R.J. and Henzell E.F., ‘Pasture research and development in northern Australia: an ongoing scientific adventure’, Tropical Grasslands (2010) 44, pp. 221230, 223.

128 From the 1950s to the 1980s they were assisted by scientists in the selection and improvement of species through the Tropical Pastures Society, in what could be construed as another late flowering of the movement. See Clements and Henzell, op. cit. (127), p. 225. During the 1970s and 1980s a number of cultivars were bred by CSIRO scientists. See R.J. Williams and R.J. Clements, ‘The future role of plant introduction in the development of tropical pastures in Australia’, Proc. 3rd Australian Conference of Tropical Pastures 8–12 July 1985, pp. 20–28, 26.

129 Nigel Turvey, Cane Toads: A Tale of Sugar, Politics and Flawed Science, Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2013, pp. 144–147.

130 Western Mail, 6 June 1903, p. 5. For the application of the spatial and knowledge domains of disciplinary space in the context of ecological science see Bocking Steven, ‘Science and spaces in the northern environment’, Environmental History (2007) 12, pp. 867894.

131 Western Mail, 6 June 1903, p. 5.

132 Western Mail, 3 June 1905, p. 7.

133 Western Mail, 4 January 1908, p. 6; Sawyer, op. cit. (6), p. 51.

134 Sawyer, op. cit. (6), p. 48.

135 Daily News, 23 July 1904, p. 1. In an interview Compere commented about one insect that ‘if a few years ago he had had that branch of parasites, he could have got half-a-million dollars for it’; Western Mail, 12 May 1906, p. 4.

136 Froggatt, op. cit. (61), pp. 66–67.

137 Olmstead and Rhode, op. cit. (86), p. 249, table pp. 254–256.

138 Libby Robin, ‘Ecology: a science of empire?’, in Griffiths and Robin, op. cit. (83), pp. 63–75, 67. Robin cites Michael Worboys in characterizing British foreign policy in the interwar period as ‘defensive imperialism’, but motivations may have been as much inclusive and economic as an attempt to secure the colonies through development.

139 Brisbane Courier, 10 September 1927, p. 26.

140 C.B. Schedvin, Shaping Science and Industry: A History of Australia's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, 1926–49, Sydney: Allen and Unwin in Association with CSIRO, 1987, p. 87.

141 Mirror (Perth), 21 September 1928, p. 14. Tillyard spoke at a Royal Society meeting and was reminded by Charles Catton Grasby.

142 Western Mail, 3 January 1929, p. 43. The EMB offered to provide the division £25,000 for capital expenditure and £37,000 over five years for maintenance, subject to the Commonwealth making similar contributions. Robin, op. cit. (138), p. 67.

143 D.F. Waterhouse and D.P.A. Sands, Classical Biological Control of Arthropods in Australia, Canberra: CSIRO & Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, 2001; Zalucki M.P., ‘From natural history to continental scale perspectives: an overview of contributions by Australian entomologists to applied ecology – a play in three acts’, Austral Entomology (2015) 54, pp. 231245, 235, Figure 4.

144 Jenkins, op. cit. (115). Total numbers were calculated from references and tables given.

The foresight of the National Library of Australia and the various state libraries in the digitization of Australian newspapers (the ‘Trove’ project) enabled many of the hidden details of this chapter of scientific history to be recovered. My employer, the Australian Plague Locust Commission, has supported my research on aspects of the history of Australian entomological science, which are part of PhD studies in environmental history at the ANU. Marc Poole of the WA Department of Agriculture and Food provided early references by Claude Fuller. I thank Charlotte Sleigh, Pip Deveson, Libby Robin and two anonymous referees for their valuable comments.

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