Pest Control Throughout History

Photo credit: Sarasota Magazine 

Pests have been a burden on humanity since antiquity. Their impact on our lives has intensified as centuries went by. Yet, humanity has never stopped searching for ways to control and effectively reduce the damages and diseases pests brought along.


Pest Control Timeline:

2000 BC

Early pre-Romans used sulfur as pesticide to kill mites and other harmful insects. This is believed to be the first recorded use of pesticides in history.

1200 BC

Individuals in China started using plant driven insecticides to combat harmful fungus that affected vital crops.

300 AD

Chinese used predatory ants that prey on destructive insects, the first recorded use of biological pest control.

900 AD

The first recorded use of smoke as insect deterrent. Meanwhile, Chinese began using arsenic to control garden insects.


Rotenone, a crystalline ketonic chemical compound, was used by the indigenous people of South America to paralyze and catch. The compound was later adopted as pesticides throughout the world as it’s very effective against insects as well.


A vineyard producer accidentally discovered that the mixture of lime and copper deterred insects from the grapes in his farm. The man initially used the mixture to discourage people from stealing his grapes, an idea which actually worked. Since then, the mixture has been used for plant disease control in France.


DDT, a colorless odorless insecticide, was first synthesized by an Austrian chemist. It was later used by the U.S. military but become available to civilian in 1945.


Pressurized insect sprayer (widely known as bug spray) was invented by John Bean. The invention has proven very efficient in controlling pests in both, homes and crop fields.


The first recorded use of Hydrogen cyanide as a fumigant use in California citrus.


Steam engine and horse-driven pesticides spray equipment were developed.


The first recorded use of airplane for aerial pest application.


The first practical bug zapper was designed and patented by William F. Folmer and Harrison L. Chapin


Scientists begin discussing thoroughly about the importance of beneficial insects.


Massive industrial research, development as well as commercialization of several types and classes of pesticides.


Development of first photo-stable synthetic pyrethroid insecticide, permethrin.


EPA releases first list of restricted-use pesticides.


Integrated pest management (IPM)  techniques, adopted by several countries around the world, has become a successful approach in dealing with pests .


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