For many ages insects have drastically affected the life of mankind. In bygone centuries these tiny creatures spread frightful epidemics of plague, of typhus and of malaria among the peoples of Europe. They have sometimes determined the course of history and decided the destiny of nations.
During this time humanity has scarcely been aware of the deadly influence that insects have exerted upon their health and well-being. The parasitic insects of man were considered as an unavoidable nuisance and did not arouse much disgust. Lice, for instance, were found on individuals of all social classes and many anecdotes tell of their presence even in royal palaces. By and large, men were passively resigned to suffering from the effects of obnoxious insects.
It was only when scientific investigations revealed that some parasitic insects transmit disease-spreading germs, and when the means of insect-control were also discovered, that the presence of parasitic insects began to be seen as an alarming menace requiring positive counter-measures.
Chief of Laboratory of Malariology, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Margherita 299, Rome, Italy.