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Although people have long sought to shape nature for their own benefit, they have also introduced—intentionally and unintentionally—some of the most notorious “pests” of the 19th and 20th centuries. Global trade routes, the collecting of ornamental plants, the need for soil conservation and high-yield agriculture products, and the use of biological controls have all increased the spread of nonnative and often problematic species.  

In this exhibition, the word “pest” is used to describe plants and insects that the prevailing wisdom of the time deemed troublesome or that threatened to inflict economic and human harm.  This exhibit examines the war against pests as it played out in Georgia’s fields, forests, and front yards. Due to an often compulsive urge to eradicate insects and plants viewed as unfavorable, entomologists, chemists, agriculturalists, government officials, and everyday Georgians have had to confront  unanticipated ecological and public health consequences. When chemicals failed to live up to proponents’ promises, “quarantine” supplanted outright “eradication” as both the preferred approach and ultimate goal. This exhibition illuminates the use of science to battle nature, the consequences of that struggle, and the growing acceptance of different approaches to pest management and coexistence.  

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