SCIMAT / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIMAT / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Bacillus thuringiensis. Bacillus thuringiensis was discovered in Germany in 1911 as a pathogen of flour moths from the province of Thuringia. As a commercial insecticide it was used in France in 1938 and in the USA in the 1950s. Spraying or dusting plants with spores of this bacterium appear to be environmentally safe ways to attack such pests as the gypsy moth, the tent caterpillar, and the tobacco hornworm (which also attacks tomatoes). Bacillus thuringiensis is considered safe to humans. When Bacillus thuringiensis creates spores, it also creates toxic protein crystals. They kill larvae which ingest the bacterium and thus the toxin.
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