The Development of Western Siberia in the Context of Historical Entomology (17th – Early 20th Centuries)
Keywords:Western Siberia; traditional farming; traditional way of life; knowledge about nature; insects
It is impossible to study agricultural history without taking into account the experience of nature management, knowledge about the use of natural resources in traditional farming, and adaptation to local natural conditions. Another side of the issue concerns the impact of traditional agro-industrial farming on nature. When studying the formation and development of local farming, it is important to consider nature not as a background, but as a powerful and constantly evolving factor. Referring to the aforementioned interdisciplinary approach, the article shows how the traditional farming of Western Siberia adapted to local and synanthropic insects. Bedbugs and black cockroaches felt fine in a new climate, appearing in Western Siberia together with the settled lifestyle of the Russians. Russian-Chinese trade became a mediator for the red cockroach that later penetrated the European part of the country and eliminated its black enemy. Local insects caused Siberians much more trouble than synanthropic insects. Huge numbers of Siberian gnats (blackflies, mosquitoes, and gadflies) complicated their everyday life and caused serious problems in local cattle breeding. The gnat was especially rampant in the northern part of the region. Insect pests, especially locusts, were also a huge challenge for agriculture. The first attempt to deploy an anti-locust chemical treatment (with kerosene) was carried out in the Trans-Urals in 1902. However, the peasants lost their battle against the locusts. In moments of despair, public conscience might have developed the idea that the locusts were revenging themselves on peasants, so it would be better to stop the fight.