I'm trying to recall a science fiction novel probably written in the 1970s. The United States was aggressively using pesticides, damaging the ecology of the planet. For some reasons, plant and insect life woke up and began some form of asymmetric warfare in retaliation.

I think there was a family shaped out of insects and living undercover in America. They started to lose focus and became tempted by the pleasures of our consumer society.

There was also a couple captured in South America and transformed into symbiotic beings with plant cells in their skin providing food through photosynthesis.

I believe the story ended with some sort of truce between both sides. The collective plant and insect culture provided a path to allow humans to feed their population and maintain civilization.

But it was a long time ago, and I may have filled some gaps with my own imagination. Thanks in advance for your help.

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    Related (from another SE): worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/22729/… If you read through all the answers and comments there, you might get lucky and find someone referencing this novel!
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 14:45
  • @randal'thor That's an interesting question and clearly related. As I remember it, the insects didn't immediately attack in an overwhelming way and plant life was in some manner also involved. I'm going to join that stack, thanks! Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 14:49

1 Answer 1


Frank Herbert, The Green Brain, published 1966

Wikipedia describes the book:

The book is set in the not-so-distant future, where humankind has all but succeeded in controlling all life on the planet and almost completely wiping out all insect life. The earth is divided into a "Green Zone" which humans totally dominate (or so they believe) and a diminishing "Red Zone" that is not yet conquered.

The "Green Brain" of the title is an intelligent organism that embodies and arises from nature's resistance to human domination. It is able to command social insects to form humanoid-shaped collective organisms which it uses to infiltrate the "Green Zone".

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  • I followed your link and I think that's it. A bit earlier than I thought. Fast work! Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 14:53

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