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The history of pest control: a basic timeline

Since the beginning of time, pest control for commercial property owners has been vital to the health and longevity of businesses. Records of natural pest control date back to 2500 BC, thousands of years after the beginning of agriculture. Today’s pest control companies employ improved natural techniques to bring you Integrated Pest Management (IPM), the most advanced and earth-friendly form of pest control available. 

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The history of pest control

8000 BC: Agriculture begins.

2500 BC: Individuals begin using sulfur compounds to control mites and insects.

1500 BC: Individuals practice with different cultural control techniques, like manipulating planting dates, to control pests.

1200 BC: Individuals in China use botanical insecticides as fungicides for seed treatments.

950 BC: People experiment with burning as a pest control method.

200 BC: Individuals use an oil spray to control pests.

AD 300: Chinese farmers use predatory mites in their citrus orchards.

AD 400: Farmers apply arsenic to the roots of rice paddies to prevent insect infestations.

1750: Scientists discover that derris and pyrethrum work as botanical insecticides.

1800s: Individuals start documenting their pest control methods in books and papers.

1848: The French use Viteus vitifoliae, an insect from the Americas, to combat the Tyroglyphus phylloxera (grape phylloxera).

1880: The first commercial spraying machine is made.

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1888: Americans experience the first major successes with imported biological control agents from Australia for citrus crops.

1890: Lead arsenic becomes popular for insect control. It takes about a decade for officials to start recognizing the dangers of this control method.

1892: Canada creates a law that makes spraying blooming trees with chemicals that are harmful to bees illegal.

1901: Hawaiians successfully control weeds with biological control methods.

1921: The first aerial insecticide applications begin in Ohio.

1930: Farmers start using synthetic organic compounds to control plant pathogens.

1940s: Scientists discover the insecticidal properties of DDT and benzene hexachloride.

1948: Scientists begin talking more about the importance of beneficial insects.

1959: Scientists R.F. Smith, S.M. Stern, R. van den Bosch and K.S. Hagen introduce the concept of “integrated pest management”; the term is coined in 1967.

1969: The U.S. passes the National Environmental Policy Act, and the National Academy of Sciences formalizes the term “integrated pest management.”

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1972: The Federal Environmental Pesticides Control Act passes. The USDA funds IPM research.

1980s: Countries around the world experience success with IPM techniques.

1996: The first transgenic (genetically modified) crops are commercialized.

2006: Worldwide concerns grow about engineered transgenic crops, which slow down the adoption of some IPM technologies.

New technologies

In more recent years, new technologies have been developed to further enhance the way we do pest control. 


  • PestConnect - A system that utilizes infrared sensors on rodent traps to monitor mouse activity on site. PestConnect actively detects and contains rodents on the interior and exterior of a facility. This system blends IPM with digital pest control technology to provide up-to-the-minute data, delivering faster problem resolution, increased efficacy, and ultimately, reduced disruption to a business.
  • Lumnia - An indoor insect light trap to monitor and control flying insects. The Lumnia range uses our parent company, Rentokil’s, unique glue boards to capture and kill flying insects quickly and efficiently. These traps can be utilized in internal commercial environments where flies are not welcome, reducing the risk of contamination from these pesky insects.


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As you can see, pest control has a long and fascinating history – and we’re excited to see what other new developments lay on the horizon. To learn how IPM and natural pest control methods can benefit your commercial enterprise, contact Western Exterminator online or call 888-444-6138.

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