A Short History of Pest Management
(Outline from M. Frazier; IPM in the Classroom 1997)
The field of Integrated Pest Management developed during a particular time in history. The ecological approach to pest management (rather than simple and repeated attempts at eradication using chemical pesticides) had been championed by scientists for years (see quote below). However, during this century, it took many years and the development of public agencies with oversight of pesticide issues and public monies to fund such research.
Some of the key events in pest management over the years are outlined below.
"The agriculture journals have from year to year, presented through
their columns, various recipes, as preventive of the attacks, or
destructive to the life, of the "curculio," the "apple-moth," the
"squash-bug," etc. The proposed decoctions and washes we are well
satisfied, in the majority of instances, are as useless in application
as they are ridiculous in composition, and if the work of destroying
insects is to be accomplished satisfactorily, we feel confident that it
will have to be the result of no chemical preparations, but of simple
means, directed by a knowledge of the history and habits of the
The Practical Entomologist (October 30 1856)
did not so much "control" as allow for pests
(plant enough for themselves and the pests, such as deer, rabbits, insects, etc.)
Ancient Sumerians used sulfur compounds to kill insects
- earliest record of insect pest control
Egyptians and Chinese use herbs & oils to control insect pests
Chinese recognize phenology (connection between climate and periodic biological phenomena) as a science- led to timing the planting of a crop to avoid pest attacks
Chinese use natural enemies to control pests
- ants on citrus to reduce pest infestations
The Chinese discover soap as a pesticide
Tobacco infusions (nicotine), herbs and arsenic become the major materials used for insect pest control
Reaumur publishes on the importance of temperature summation in determining insect phenology
plant resistance to insects discovered
imperial expansion --- introduced pests
San Jose scale
Colorado potato beetle
-major losses - leads to inspections, quarantine procedures, increased interest in pest control
Paris green (mixture of arsenic and copper sulfate )used for the control of Colorado potato beetle
late 1800's - early 1900's
boom in development of insecticide application equipment
pesticides were largely ineffective, expensive, hazardous and somewhat phytotoxic
Synthetic Pesticide Era--1939 to ?????
Prior to this time, insecticides were formulated from petroleum, coal tar distillates, plants or inorganic compounds
trend toward synthesizing new compounds
- synthesized by a German graduate student 1873
- Paul Muller, (Swiss) discovers insecticidal activity
- saves many soldiers' lives during WWII (body lice - typhus)
- such an impact on human health -- Muller wins 1948 Nobel prize in medicine
During WWII both the Germans and the Allies working on the development of organophosphates as nerve gases. They discover the insecticidal properties of these chemicals
After WWII development of other chlorinated hydrocarbons and organophosphates as pesticides
1950's early 60's
"The Green Revolution"
- synthetic pesticides and fertilizers the answer to world hunger!!?? (Was that the question?)
- trend away from understanding pest phenology, density or damage potential and toward pure chemical approach
Rachel Carson publishes the book "Silent Spring"
Brings the issue of pesticide safety to the attention of the public:
-Adverse effects on wildlife, water quality, human health?
- DDT found in milk and foods (biomagnification)
- Resistance of pests to pesticides ("super bugs" & weeds)
Response to book leads eventually to public policy changes in 1970's
Serious beginning of research on IPM approaches to pest control
USDA creates nationwide IPM Program in Land Grant Universities
EPA created & given jurisdiction over pesticide registration & regulation
institutes Pesticide Education Programs in Land Grant Universities
Increase in IPM research
Beginning of genetic engineering applications in agriculture
New genetically engineered Bt crops (corn, potatoes) come into use
How will these fit into IPM programs?
Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) brings changes to pesticide laws in US
New emphasis on softer, and/or more specifically targeted, low-volume chemicals
Issues of children's health emphasized
2000 and beyond??
Pest management is always changing and we cannot predict the future. In fact, even in the same time period, people have different ideas about how pest management should be carried out.
In the next section, we will go into more depth about what constitutes IPM in the Here and Now.