The History of Integrated Pest Management

Phase Date Discovery or Event
Setting the stage
400 million B.C. First terrestrial plants
350 million B.C. First Insects
250,000 B.C. Appearance of Homo sapiens
8,000 B.C. Beginnings of agriculture
4,700 B.C. Silkworm culture in China
2,500 B.C. First records of insecticides (the Sumerians use sulphur compounds to control insects and mites)
1,500 B.C. First descriptions of cultural controls, especially manipulation of planting dates
1,200 B.C. Botanical insecticides are used for seed treatments and as fungicides in China. The Chinese also use mercury and arsenical compounds to control body lice
1,000 B.C. Homer refers to the use of sulfur in fumigation and other forms of pest control
470 B.C. Democritus, cited by Pliny, controls a blight by sprinkling plants with amurca (liquid waste remaining after olive oil is produced). Frequently sited thereafter into the 16th century.
370-286 B.C. The Greek philosopher Theophrastus studies and writes about plant diseases of trees, cereals, and legumes.
Early interactions with pests
324 B.C. Chinese introduce ants (Acephali amaragina) in citrus trees to manage caterpillars and large boring insects.
200 B.C. Cato the Censor, a Roman, advocates oil sprays for pest control.
13 B.C. First rat-proof granary is constructed by Marcus Pollio, a Roman architect.
300 A.D. First recorded use of biological controls in citrus orchards to control caterpillar and beetle pests in China. Colonies of the predatory ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) are set up in citrus groves with bamboo bridges, so they could move between trees.
400 A.D. Ko Hung a Chinese alchemist, recommends a root application of white arsenic when transplanting rice to protect against insect pests.
449 A.D. Fall of Rome marks period of very few advances in pest control in western Europe.
Dark ages in western Europe/ Golden age of Islam
1000-1300 Date growers in Arabia seasonally transport predatory ants from nearby mountains to oases to control phytophagous ants that attack date palm. Also at this time, weeds controllled by mechanical removal with a hoe, crop rotations, and cultivation.
1100-1200 Ibn Al-Awam produces his classic book on agriculture, containing a wealth of information on pest management
1457 Fall of Constantinople; end of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine)
Beginning of the European rennaisance in Italy
1476 In Berne, Switzerland cutworms are taken to court, pronounced guilty, excommunicated by the Archbishop, then banished.
1485 The High Vicar of Valence commands caterpillars to appear before him. He gives them a defense council and finally condemns them to leave the area.
1650-1780 Burgeoning of insect descriptions (after Linnaeus) and biological discoveries in Renaissance
The age of enlightenment
1732 Farmers first begin to grow crops in rows to facilitate weed removal
1763 Linnaeus publishes a prize-winning essay that suggests using mechanical and biological control to manage orchard caterpillars.
1750-1880 Agricultural revolution in Europe. Crop protection becomes more extensive and international trade promotes the discovery of the botanical insecticides pyrethrum and derris
Early 1800s Appearance of first books and papers devoted entirely to pest control
1840s Potato blight (Phytophthora infestans) outbreak in Ireland, England, and Belgium, leading to widespread famine in Ireland (where British policies had forced the Irish to rely on one crop).
  • 1870-1890 Grape phylloxera and powdery mildew controlled in French wine country through the introduction of Bordeaux mixture, Paris Green, use of resistant root stocks, and grafting.
  • 1861 Disproval of spontaneous generation theory by Louis Pasteur:
  • 1876 Koch demonstrates the germ theory using Bacillus anthracis, the causal agent of anthrax, by transferring blood contaminated with B. anthracis from infected animals to healthy animals and causing anthrax symptoms:
  • 1880 First commercial pesticide spraying machine
    Age of diverse discoveries
    1888 First major biological importation success (vedalia beetle for control of cottony cushion scale)
    1890s Introduction of lead arsenate for insect control
    1896 Recognition of arthropods as vectors of human disease
    1896 First selective herbicide (iron sulfate)
  • 1901 First successful biological control of a weed (lantana in Hawaii)
    1899-1909 Development of strains of cotton, cowpeas, and watermelon resistant to Fusarium wilt (first breeding program)
  • 1908 First case of resistance to a pesticide (San Jose scale resistance to lime sulfur)
  • 1912 U.S. Plant Quarantine Act
    1915 Control of disease-vectoring mosquitoes enabled the completion of Panama canal
    1921 First aircraft spray (in Ohio for catalpa sphinx)
    1929 First area-wide eradication of an insect pest (Mediterranean fruit fly in Florida)
    1930s Introduction of synthetic organic compounds for plant pathogen control
    1939 Recognition of insecticidal properties of DDT
  • 1940 Use of milky disease to control Japanese beetle (first successful direct use of an insect pathogen for control)
    1940s Organophosphates developed in Germany, carbamates in Switzerland
    1942 First successful breeding program for insect pest resistance in crop plants (release of wheat strain resistant to Hessian fly)
    The chemical age
    1944 First hormone-based herbicide (2,4-D)
    1946 First report of insect resistance to DDT (housefly in Sweden)
    1948 Muller wins Nobel prize for discovery of DDT
    1950s-1970s Widespread development of resistance to DDT and other pesticides
    1950s First applications of systems analysis to crop pest control
    1958 Delaney Clause of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (set zero tolerance for carcinogens)
    1959 Introduction of concepts of economic thresholds, economic injury levels, and integrated control
    1960 First insect sex pheromone isolated, identified, and synthesized (gypsy moth)
    1960 First Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) product registered
    The environmental age
    1962 Rachel Carson's Silent Spring
    1969 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
    1972 Banning of DDT in the United States
    Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) (sets standards for pesticide labeling)
    1973 Endangered Species Act
    1974 Establishment of the EPA
    1977 First registration of a pheromone
    1979 The bacterium, Agrobacterium radiobacter, is registered to control crown gall disease.
    1983 First successful transfer of a gene from one species to another
    1993 The fungus Gliocladium virens registered to control Pythium and Rhizoctonia.
    1994 Regulatory approval of transgenic virus-tolerant squash, herbicide-tolerant soyabeans and cotton.
    1996 Food Quality Protection Act (replaces "zero tolerance" of Delaney clause with "reasonable certainty" clause)
    First transgenic Bt toxin-producing crops in the USA.

    Sources: G.B. Orlob (1973) Ancient and medieval plant pathology, Pflanzenschutz-Nachrichten 26: 65-294.,
    Cornell IPM CSS 4440/ ENTOM 4440 course materials.